The simple answer to safe riding is ride it like you drive it.
In Massachusetts, the law says that bikes are vehicles and have a right to be on the road. This also means that bike riders have a responsibility to use the same rules of the road as car drivers. Ride in the same direction as traffic. Stop for lights and stop signs. Signal for turns. Use lights at night.
Beyond those rules of the road, riders need to be aware of their unique safety needs. Ride outside the door opening zone of parked cars. Beware of cars trying to turn right in front of you. How to make a left turn.
The City of Somerville has a great resource on their web site which gives information on riding rules, responsibilities, and rules of the road for safe riding. The PDF file also has a map of Somerville bike routes on the other side.
Besides this resource, there are classes which give hands on instruction and practice. MassBike Pioneer Valley sponsors rider education classes with a certified instructor. My friend Ruthy Woodring of the Pedal People Collective offers classes where you can:
Learn how to navigate traffic confidently, use a bicycle for practical transportation year-round, dress comfortably, and carry things effectively; learn basic repair skills: fixing flats, adjustments, what tools to carry, etc.
Ruthy knows what she’s doing, and she’ll soon have you knowing too. Contact information for her is on her web page.
If you just want to practice these skills or go for a ride, drop a note in the comments and I’ll go out with you. Sometimes picking a route different from the way you would take your car can make a big difference. Not all roads are equal. Let’s look at the map together. I want people to ride bikes safely, and with joy. You can do it.