Law Officer Training

NOTE: The material on this page is out-of-date, and does not include the most current laws covering bicycles and motorist interactions with bicyclists.

The Law Officer’s Guide to Bicycle Safety

Welcome and Overview
Welcome to the Law Officer’s Guide to Bicycle Safety. In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded a grant to MassBike to develop a national program to educate police departments about laws relating to bicyclists. Initial seed money for the project was provided by the Charles River Wheelmen. The program is intended to be taught by law enforcement officers to law enforcement officers as a stand-alone resource. The major objective of the program is to give law enforcement officers of all backgrounds the tools they need to properly enforce the laws that affect bicyclists. The program focuses on all police officers, including those who may not be interested in bicycling or who are not able to attend in-depth trainings. The program will also be useful to police departments who wish to do outreach to the bicycle community or other organizations.

NHTSA is currently restructuring the program so that police can receive continuing education credit for completing it. The materials MassBike developed are available here for free downloading by interested citizens, officers, and advocacy groups.

Program Materials
Right click or ctrl click (mac) and select “save target as” or “save link as” to download any of these files.
Presentation (27 mb PowerPoint, without links to videos)
Reference Guide (pdf) including data on car-bike crashes and traffic laws
Instructor materials

Video Clips
Note: The mp4 files are 2 to 7 mb per clip and require a recent version of QuickTime (free download). The mpg format files are much bigger (6 to 20 mb per clip) and much worse quality, but can be viewed with any media player.
How bicyclists should ride
Don’t ride the wrong way mp4 mpg YouTube
Don’t ride on sidewalks mp4 mpg YouTube
Don’t go through on red mp4 mpg YouTube
Stay away from the “door zone” mp4 mpg YouTube
Merging to the middle of the road mp4 mpg YouTube
Riding in bike lanes mp4 mpg YouTube
Bicycling in a narrow lane mp4 mpg YouTube
Motorist errors that often cause car-bike collisions
Motorist turns left, into bicyclist mp4 avi YouTube
Motorist right turn across bicyclist’s path mp4 mpg YouTube
Motorist runs a stop sign mp4 mpg YouTube
Bicycling at night
Visibility from the front mp4 mpg YouTube
Visibility from the rear mp4 mpg YouTube
Role of police
Why enforce? mp4 mpg YouTube
Enforcement example, Cambridge, Mass. mp4 mpg YouTube

Here’s what a few police officers have to say about the program:

“Just taking the class will increase my awareness of bicycles on the roadways. I believe I will be more inclined to take enforcement actions now than I was in the past.” – police officer, Homewood, Ill.

“The course will be helpful in increasing public safety because it helps train officers how to effectively ride, handle, and use the bike to patrol the community they work in.” – police officer, University of Illinois.

“I will make an effort to do more enforcement towards bikers who disregard traffic devices and towards motorists who exhibit dangerous behavior towards bikers.” – police officer – Ann Arbor, Mich.

“With this knowledge, I will be more inclined to confront the problem and do my part to reduce injuries and deaths.” – police officer, Wheeling, West Va.

Format and Length

The program is self-administration in an electronic (PowerPoint) multi-media presentation (incorporated videos). The training can be offered in a number of ways:

1) One training- as part of an annual training day, in service training, or basic training – provided by the training officer- total training time two hours; 2) Multiple segments as part of multiple roll-call briefings;
3) Self study guide done at law officers’ individual workstation. The course includes reference material and handouts for police departments including safety tips for cyclists and motorists.

The course describes bicycle-related traffic laws in detail, explains why they should be enforced, and covers crash investigation. It includes statistics and bicycling facts, segments such as “Ticketing Motorists,” “Bicyclists are Drivers,” “Position on Roadway,” and clarification of the limited applicability and redundancy of the “Far Right Rule.” The presentation incorporates video clips illustrating such topics as door zone and sidewalk dangers is included, as well as video showing Cambridge (Mass.) police officers enforcing the law in real-life situations. To allow for the varied laws from state to state, this program has provided sections within the PowerPoint presentation that are to be customized by the instructor.

Target Audience: Taught by Law Enforcement Officers to Law Enforcement Officers.
This is bicycling 101 for law enforcement; it is intended to embrace a non-cycling audience, those who are not directly part of a Cops-on-Bike program, or those with an interest but who are not able to attend in-depth trainings. The program will also be useful to police departments who wish to do outreach to the bicycle community or other organizations.

The program was designed and drafted by the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition with the assistance of a Technical Working Group as part of NHTSA’s National Strategies to Advancing Bicycle Safety. The Technical Working Group gave input as to how to prioritize different skills and priorities were chosen based on statistics showing that by riding on the right side of the street and obeying traffic control devices, cyclists could help prevent accidents. Special appreciation goes to the following individuals and organizations for their help in creating the program materials:

Steve McCauley, USA Cycling
Laura Hallam, Florida Bicycle Association
Robbie Webber, Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin
Lieutenant Joe Wolff, NYPD Traffic Control Division
Peter Flucke, WE Bike
Jared Katz, Law Enforcement Bicycle Association
Mike Klasmeier, League of American Bicyclists
Maureen Becker, International Police Mountain Bike Association
Kirby Beck, Coon Rapids PD
John Allen, MassBike
Paul Schimek, MassBike
Turil Cronburg, MassBike
Don Dupray, Hamilton (Mass.) PD
Ross Panacopoulous, Mass. State Police
Joanne Pruitt-Thunder, Wisconsin DOT
Josh Lehman, Massachusetts Highway Department
Kathy Vonk, Ann Arbor (Mich.) PD
Kathy Murphy, Cambridge (Mass.) PD
Bernie Hogancamp, Homewood PD (Ill.)
Perry Ahlfinger, Thornton PD (Colo.)
Christopher Hawk, UIUC Police Department (Ill.)
Monte May, IPMBA Instructor (Wis.)
Tracy Lee and Keith Cook, Broken Arrow Police Department (Okla.)
Phil Redford, Wheeling Police Department (West Va.)
Becka Roolf, Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition
Jeff Miller, Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Tim Baldwin, MassBike
Paula Bawer, NHTSA
Marietta Bowen, NHTSA


June 2005: Major Victory! Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee Adopts MassBike Curriculum; Will Train All Officers in Bike Laws.
Click here for press release (.doc)