[*BCM*] Headlights are essential after dark!

Tom Revay trevay at massbike.org
Mon Oct 25 09:56:05 EDT 2004

On 10/25/2004 at 12:59 AM Ian Westcott wrote:
>As for lights, it's technically the law in MA to have a white headlight 
>and red taillight after dark.  However, it's also technically only legal 
>to ride single file...  so again, the choice is really up to you.

Yes, there are lots of frivolous laws on the books that people don't obey.  Boston Magazine had an article a couple years ago about some folks who decided to go out and break some of the stupider ones.  You can read about their experiences at
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/ArticleDisplay.php?id=136 .

The riding single file law is a stupid law.  Massachusetts ought to come into conformance with the Uniform Vehicle Code and most other states' laws, and get rid of it.

But like the UVC and most other states' laws, Massachusetts requires a white headlight and a red *reflector OR tail lamp*.  That's not a stupid law.  The largest cause of bicycle / motor vehicle collisions after dark results from cyclists breaking this law.

So you're right, the choice ultimately is up to the rider.  Do he or she want to live?  Or become a hood ornament?  (The answer is left as an exercise to the reader.)

The existence of dumb laws, such as those prohibiting only partial singing of the Star Spangled Banner, keeping a mule on the second floor of your building, or telling you that you can't ride next to someone else on your bike doesn't change the correctness of the good ones.  The headlight law is a good one, and you ought to obey it for your good, and for the good of other cyclists and pedestrians who can't see you coming without it.


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