Ask MassBike: Where Are Cyclists Allowed To Ride Their Bicycles?

42-21548197We get a lot of questions here at MassBike, and we like to think we also give some pretty good answers. We realized that sharing these questions and answers on our website would be a valuable resource to others looking for the same information.

We got this question from Pascal about what streets are ok to ride your bicycle on.

I am a student from the Netherlands and I will be doing an internship at MIT. I have a question about cycling in Boston. Is it allowed to cycle on all boston streets (except interstates)? For example, is one allowed to cycle the boston university bridge? This bridge has no dedicated bicycle lane, so I’m wondering.

Thanks in advance for your response!

Kind regards,

Hello Pascal

Yes you can cycle on all streets in the entire state except for, limited access highways or express state highways where it is posted off limits for bicycles. You can most certainly cycle the BU Bridge, but as you mentioned it doesn’t have bike lanes, but will after the current construction project is completed.

Hope this helps

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7 Responses to Ask MassBike: Where Are Cyclists Allowed To Ride Their Bicycles?

  1. Ken Cheeseman January 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm #


    Welcome to Boston and happy riding! I hope you’ll keep in touch with Massbike and keep us updated on your biking experience in Boston. I worked and lived in Rotterdam for a month and did quite a bit of riding around the Netherlands while I was there and loved it. It would be advantageous to those of us interested in infrastructure improvements to hear feedback from riders who come from a different kind of cycling environment.

    You may find it useful to carefully choose your routes. Though, as has been pointed out, most roads are legally accessible to cyclists some may be more preferred as routes to get from point A to point
    B on a bicycle.

    best of luck and hope to see you out riding!

  2. Matt January 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    What exactly constitutes a limited-access highway? Interstates of course, but how about Routes 2, 9, or 1? I’d swear I saw a sharrow on Route 1 in Dedham.

    My best guess is that the deciding factor is whether the road has intersections vs. exits/entrances, but i’m not sure…

  3. Tom Revay January 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    You didn’t see a sharrow in Dedham, but you did see a sign directing cyclists to stop at the stop line to trigger the traffic lights, and you’ve also seen bicycle symbols on the road intended to indicate the same.

    A limited access highway has no direct crossings of either other public roads, or private ways — car parks, driveways, and so on. The Providence Highway in Dedham is not such a thing — there are lots of entrances and exits from shops, and lots of intersections and traffic controls from other public roads. There are sections of US 1 that are limited access — where it is part of I-93/Rt. 128, for example — and the on-ramps to these roads are marked with signs prohibiting bicycles.

    It’s interesting that the inquirer, Pascal, wondered if riding a bicycle on a roadway that has no bike lane is legal. His confusion is shared by many, cyclists and non-cyclists alike. The fact is, *every lane of every surface road in the Commonwealth IS a bike lane* — just as much as it is a “car lane.” Bike lanes are claimed to dispel confusion about where cyclists “should” ride, but clearly, they don’t do that. Instead, for many people, they create just that kind of confusion. Given that they have never been shown to increase the safety of cyclists along them, one has to wonder why cyclists champion these mostly unnecessary devices.

  4. matt January 24, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Thanks Tom for clarifying the sign I saw. Quite a surprise to hear that I could ride on Route 1 in Dedham if I wanted to…though I’m not sure I would want to.

    Re: bike lanes, speaking as someone who is relatively new to bike commuting, my observation is that cars are less likely to honk or yell “get off the road” when there’s a bike lane. I find cars surprisingly respectful of bike lanes, at least on Belgrade and Washington in Roslindale where I ride.

    Sharrows don’t seem to have the same effect, I think both because it’s not as clear what they mean and because it’s easier for a driver to miss them while speeding along. I’m sure there are more scientific studies, but speaking only for myself I feel more confident riding in a bike lane than otherwise. Maybe more experienced cyclists feel differently.

  5. Laura April 7, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Look out when you are riding on the BU bridge. Although there are signs posted 3 or 4 times across the bridge notifying drivers that cyclists can take the lane, I am often honked at, yelled/cursed at, etc when I do so.

  6. grouchycyclist May 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Is there a master list of which towns in Mass. restrict bicycles from sidewalks?

  7. john December 2, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    For example, can one ride one’s bike from Providence to Boston on Route 1 the entire way, except that limited access stretch where it merges with 128/93