Our View: Look Both Ways


It's summer, according to both the calendar and the traffic. While there may not be quite as many visitors here as in past years, there are certainly more people out and about — on foot and on bicycles — than usual, a holdover from the long shutdown during which taking a walk or a bike ride were among the few escapes from quarantine.

Lately we've noticed drivers, walkers, runners and bikers not being as careful as they should be or failing to follow simple rules of the road. Now is a good time for a reminder of those rules, since vehicular, bike and pedestrian traffic will only be increasing in the days and weeks to come.

Pedestrians should always walk or run on sidewalks, when they are available. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic. Bicyclists, on the other hand, should follow the rules for vehicles — ride on the right, with traffic, stop at stop signs and obey traffic signals — and should also use hand signals when turning, and riders under 16 are required by law to wear helmets (although everyone should wear one for their own safety). Bikes can use sidewalks, except in business districts; in Chatham, riding on the sidewalk along Main Street from the rotary to the Lighthouse Beach parking lot is strictly prohibited by town bylaw.

Drivers need to be aware that they are often sharing our narrow roads with bikers, walkers and runners, who have just as much right to use the roadways as do vehicles. Motorists need to be patient when trying to pass folks on bikes or foot, waiting until it is safe to do so. Forcing bikers or pedestrians off the road, or squeezing them by passing less than three feet away, is a violation of the law. Look before opening your door. You can be fined $100 if you open your door into an oncoming bike. Look both ways at all intersections, even when you are turning right. A walker or runner may be approaching from that side.

Details of these and other rules and regulations governing bicycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles are available at www.mass.gov/doc/laws-for-bicyclists-and-motorists-in-the-presence-of-bicyclists/download. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce also has bike safety information at www.capecodchamber.org/bike-safety-cape-cod/. Local bike shops and police departments are another source for bike and road safety information.

It's summer on Cape Cod. Enjoy your walk, bike ride, run or drive. And take a moment to refresh your knowledge of the rules, for everyone's sake.