Sharing the road responsibly|
Posted 8/21/2013 Updated 8/21/2013
Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. David Hassan
66th Medical Squadron
8/21/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Operating a motor vehicle on winding and narrow roads in Massachusetts can be a challenge, especially if you are not from this area. Many local roadways have blind spots that require drivers to pay close attention and avoid distractions.
One particular group that has every right to be on the road with motorists is the bicyclist. Especially during this time of year, warm weather is a great time to dust off their bikes and take fitness to a higher level.
In order for everyone to stay safe, however, both motor vehicle operators and bicyclists should be aware of the laws and courtesies of traveling on the road together.
Air Force Instruction 31-204, 66 ABW Supplement 1, Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, currently governs the rules of operating a bicycle on base. Even though the roads on base are relatively easy to navigate and the speed limits are lower than those in the local community, a potential for an accident always exists.
Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicle operators. They must ride in single file when in groups of two or more and must travel on the far right side of the roadway. Helmets are mandatory on base. Headphones are not authorized on base.
Massachusetts law is similar to the installation guidance regarding bicyclist's requirement to follow all traffic laws. However, there are some differences. For example, a helmet is only required for those 16 years of age or younger. In addition, the law states that bicyclists riding in a group of two or more cannot ride more than two abreast. When intending to stop or turn, hand signals are required unless a rider needs both hands to operate the bike safely.
Both on base and off, the use of reflective material is required starting a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.
As the fall season approaches and daylight is lost, we must be aware of our role in maintaining the safety for bicyclist as well as the motor vehicle operator. The base guidance and state laws are there to protect everyone. Just as motor vehicles are required to give bicyclists space and time, bicyclists are responsible to follow the rules of the road. Although some roads in Massachusetts can be difficult to share, the time you take to slow down and be aware of your surroundings could possibly prevent an unnecessary tragedy.
For further information, contact Security Forces at 781-225-5610 or the Safety Office at 781-225-5584. For Massachusetts state laws, visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles at http://www.massrmv.com/.
The 66th Air Base Group Manual 31-116, Hanscom Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision is currently being routed for approval and will supersede AFI 31-204, 66 ABW Supplement 1.