Tips for Safe Travel

Cyclists in Cambridge

Obey Traffic Laws

  • Ride with traffic, not against it. 

  • Obey all traffic signs and signals. When you are on the street, you are a vehicle and must follow the same traffic rules as people driving.

  • Never pass a bus on the right. You could collide with a pedestrian or get squeezed against the curb.

  • Do not ride on the sidewalk in business districts. It is legal to ride on the sidewalk outside of business districts, but you must yield to pedestrians and ride at the speed of the people walking around you.

  • Always yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

  • Never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down for a pedestrian.

  • The law requires using a white light in front that is visible for at least 500 feet, pedal reflectors, and a rear red reflector and/or rear red light that is visible for at least 600 feet after dark.

Image showing how to watch for people when driving in Cambridge

Look Out for Car Doors

  • Ride at least three feet from parked cars.

  • Never swerve between parked cars; use the outside of the next car as your guide.

  • Avoid riding on the right side of any stopped car, especially if it is near the curb. View a printable flyer.

Image showing how to bike near car doors

Watch For Bike Lane Obstructions

  • Watch for motorists crossing bicycle lanes to turn or park.

  • If there is an obstacle in the bicycle lane, slow down, signal, and make sure you have a clear space or the attention of the driver behind you before you move left into the general travel lane.

  • If you encounter an illegally parked car, you may call the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department (617-349-4700) or the Police Department (617-349-3300) to report it. Details such as the license plate number and exact location by street address will help enforcement officers. View a printable flyer.

Image depicting how to be careful around buses

Be Bright, Use a Light

  • The more illuminated you are, the better. Supplementary visibility measures such as blinking lights, reflective straps and reflective tires are particularly helpful.

  • Remember that motorists and pedestrians need to see you. Many cyclists believe that lights in the city are not necessary, as the streets are relatively well lit. The point is not so much what you as a rider see; it is that you are seen by others.

  • Nearly half of all cycling deaths in the US involve cyclists riding at night without lights, although only 3% of biking is done after dark. Link to printable flyer. 

Image showing how to drive safely through intersections

Other Helpful Tips

  • Be predictable. Do not weave in and out of traffic or parked cars.

  • Be especially alert when going straight through an intersection -- look for motorists in all directions and merge behind a right-turning motorist when possible.

  • Signal your intentions - use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.

  • Left turns: There are two possibilities: Signal, move into the left lane, and turn left. OR Ride straight to the far side of the intersection, then stop, turn left, wait for the light to turn green, and ride across. If you use the crosswalk, walk your bicycle across. A mirror is helpful, enabling you to be aware of traffic approaching from behind. Make eye contact with people driving and communicate your intent to turn. 

Image showing how to do a two stage left turn on bike

Safety Tips from the Cambridge Police Department

The Cambridge Police Department provides additional information about bike safety and registration. Also be sure to check out this great brochure and Public Service Announcement from the Police Department.

Image showing how to act near a large turning truck

For More Information

For more information about bicycling in Cambridge, please contact Cara Seiderman, cseiderman@cambridgema.gov, at 617/349-4629.