Bike Lane Parking

One of the last bills adopted at the end of the 2015-2016 legislative session was H.3072, An Act protecting bicyclists in bicycle lanes, sponsored by Rep. Dave Rogers.  When a vehicle is parked in a bike lane it expose cyclists to danger by forcing them to swerve into the flow of traffic, around the obstruction.

The first section of the bill defines the offense: “The operator of a motor vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon an on-street path or lane designated by an official sign or marking for the exclusive use of bicycles.

The second and third sections of the bill set the fine at $50.

The fourth section of the bill specifies that this new offense will not lead to an insurance surcharge.

We have had some questions about how this law will be enforced, particularly with respect to picking up and dropping off passengers.

“Stand” or “Standing” is generally defined as “The halting of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, other than for the purpose of, and while actually engaged in, receiving or discharging passengers.”  Similar definitions are found in multiple sections [1], [2], [3] of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, and the Boston and Cambridge Traffic Regulations.

If a driver needs to pull over briefly to drop someone off or pick someone up, they should not receive a ticket.  Only a more prolonged stop, should result in enforcement.

Andrew Bettinelli
Chief of Staff
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

Note from WB: Governor signed this legislation — it is law

Thanks to Governor Baker for signing this legislation. Thanks also to MassDOT and the State Police for helping us work out the kinks in the bill.


23 replies on “Bike Lane Parking”

    1. If you are turning right in a car, you should stay in the motor-vehicle lane until the light turns green. After the light turns green, then make the right turn at the intersection. Please don’t turn into the bike lane early, since you will block it.

      1. Jeff, If a car is in the motor-vehicle lane stopped at a light with its blinkers on to make a right turn, what is the rule for a person on a bike that is going straight ahead?

  1. This is an important step forward. But does this legislation or any proposed bill require side guards on trucks? This would probably save more lives than any other single thing we can do. I know that there are limitations relating to interstate commerce, but Massachusetts should be leading the way on this. (They did it in China years ago!)

  2. A new law like this sounds good, but without an effective implementation plan to actually change driver behaviors, it will have little impact. I was driving tonight on Tremont St. across from police HQ. I went 25 mph in accordance with the new law. Cars passed me left and right. Did they not know? Did they not care? Did they think they wouldn’t get caught? The city has no implementation plan for 25 mph. I suspect they have none for using this new law to protect bike lanes either. Police enforcement is only one part of a good plan, and a small part because this is not a high priority for the police. People know they are very unlikely to get nabbed.

  3. It’s hard to disagree with this in theory, but in reality it is a little more muddled.

    Is there already a law/fine for “standing” in a traffic lane i.e. double parking?

    IF SO then anyone standing in a bike lane would also be standing in a car lane and this is already covered yet not enforced.

    IF NOT why are we only focused on the bike lane? It’s just as dangerous/problematic to have cars parked in traffic lanes. Beyond that – the car lane IS the bike lane where it is not uniquely defined. Therefore this would be more comprehensive.

  4. The regulation does not require the driver to use their hazard warning flashers while they are stopped. Is this an oversight or is there another regulation about when to use Hazard Warning Lights?

  5. I commute to work by bike and experience vehicles “standing” and/or parked in the bike lane daily. This legislation could do wonders for my safety and that of my fellow bikers IF it were enforced. The same with the new 25 mph speed limit. Rob’s point (above) is also very good. I often experience delivery trucks that are parked in the car lane and leave the bike lane open. I’m very hesitant to pull through the narrow opening between the parked cars and the parked truck (if one happens to open their door, I have no where to go), so I usually go around the truck and take the only remaining car lane. It would be great if the legislation could be broader and address this issue and the ones Rob raises. Enforcement with this bill and the new 25 mph speed are critical.

    Related to the bike lane and the need to move into the car lane, I’m quite disappointed that many bike lanes are not plowed. Typically, in my experience, the car lanes are plowed adequately but the bike lane, because of its proximity to parked cars, is not. This means that there are chunks and piles of snow and ice that I can’t ride through on my bike for fear of spilling. I know through the cycle track discussion along Comm Ave at BU, the City proposes a special vehicle that will plow the track. Why can’t this vehicle be used to plow the bike lanes? [I realize that this may not be the appropriate forum to bring this up, but since it’s related to this bill, I wanted to broach the issue.]

    Thank you for all of your hard work!

  6. The bike rider should stop if there is a car (dropping off someone ) in the bike lane, instead of swerving in the car lane.
    What about the safety of pedestrians crossing the streets when bike riders go right thru a red light. Are bike riders fined when they ride right thru a red light, or ride on the sidewalk, or almost run over a pedestrian ? Don’t think so!

  7. I share the skepticism of those who think this law, while apparently a good idea, is highly unlikely to be enforced. We have long had a fine law imposing a $100 fine for parking in a bus stop. Nevertheless, as anyone who regularly rides the 73 and boards at Beech Street can testify, cars regularly park in the bus stop space. Often drivers leave the engines on while they go in to shop in the corner store (another offense). Bus passengers and bus drivers agree that they have never seen any offender get a ticket. Indeed, police officers passing in cars and even policemen on foot coming out of Dunkin Donuts ignore these parked cars. The large white letters, BUS, now inscribed on the pavement do seen to have discouraged a few would-be parkers, but for the most part, the practice continues in the absence of any sanction.

    1. You are so right. I see cars parked in our bus stops on a daily basis. No enforcement. It would help if the police would issue warnings, if they don’t don’t want to summons.

  8. This bill is important. The bike lane is not a parking space. Cars stopped in the bike lane are one of the reasons that I don’t ride a bike to work.

  9. Thanks Will. This is essential and long overdue. Will drivers who drive in the bike lane also be subject to a violation?

    1. Good question, what is the penalty? Cars regularly travel in the bike lane under the Bowker overpass on Beacon Street and use it as a runway to enter Bay State Road. The current construction project at the BU dorm at this location may help some in another year, but law enforcement seems to care less. This intersection also has a high volume of drivers who run the red light to get onto Beacon Street towards Kenmore Square. The detail cops for the aforementioned project just watch it happen. Only a matter of time before another tragic accident happens at this location.

  10. What are the odds the governor doesn’t sign it?

    If I’m understanding Massachusetts state government properly he only has until Friday to sign it, otherwise it counts as a pocket veto.

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