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Safe and Legal Bicycle Riding

Operation Safe Cycle In late 2010, New York City cyclists began receiving summonses for failure to stop at red lights, reckless operation of a bicycle, and other offenses. The operation has made it’s way from the more dense park slope to our streets.

Avoid an expensive summons follow these laws.

Bicycles are defined as vehicles under the New York State law. Cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all of the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.

Cyclists in New York City must

  1. Ride on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).
  2. Ride with traffic, not against it.
  3. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. Cyclists must come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs. Cyclists are required by law to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  4. Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so, etc. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City even when no designated route exists.
  5. Not ride on expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes and thruways unless authorized by signs.
  6. Not wear more than one earphone attached to an aud io device (e.g. radio, ipod, walkman)
  7. Use the following safety and visibility equipment:
    • White headlight and red taillight must be used from dusk to dawn
    • Bell or horn (not whistle)
    • Working brakes
    • Reflective tires or reflectors
    • Helmets must be worn by children age 13 or younger, and helmets are strongly recommended for all others.
  8. Have at least one hand on handle bars
  9. NOT carrying more passengers than a bicycle is designed for.
  10. NOT have a motor assisted bicycle

Download a complete listing of New York City bicycle rules:

17 comments to Safe and Legal Bicycle Riding

  • James N. Fetter

    Well now there is one issue that will/can never be enforced in the “Old Section”.

  • snoreasaurusrex

    I have noticed a disturbing trend among bicyclists. They are riding while talking on their cell phones. This means swerving around and almost hitting people. Now there’s a few people that NEED a ticket. They are riding using ear buds (see above) which makes it hard to hear anything. Would you believe that I was cursed out because I stopped at a red light on the Bikeway in Manhattan? A few seconds later the same biker was almost hit by a cab. Now that was almost poetic justice!

  • Trainman

    Question number three:
    ”Cyclists are required by law to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.”
    Mmmm, I’d have to think about if I should or should not adhere to that rule. LOL
    Perhaps the brain-child who thought of that rule could also explain why Defensive Driving Courses (sanctioned by the Motor Vehicles Department) offer no guidance/instructions to coexisting with cyclists on the road?
    As a long-time driver and bicycle rider I am painfully aware of the lack of attentiveness drivers display while sharing the road (with bicycle lanes) with cyclists.

  • anonymous

    You should all know what is coming next….The City will raise MILLIONS by forcing you to get an operators license for bicycle riding…Read between the lines that is why all the bicycle lanes have been painted.. And finally the P.D. is enforcing the traffic rules on riders. The rules have always been there just not enforced…Thank You Fathead Midget Mayor !!!!!

  • Mat van Guilder

    When a person drives a car, in practice, he or she seems immune to all laws that can be avoided by some pathetic excuse, including proper courtesy to other car drivers, considering the safety of passengers in the vehicle, proper respect for someone else’s parked car, driving while distracted into your tree, your fence, your yard, presuming precedence over someone crossing the street, pushing a shopping cart, whatever. And they are the first to jump up and down, pump their fist at someone who presumes to be on a bicycle. Yes there are knuckleheads on bikes. All of the “Rules of the Road” need to be reconsidered and reinforced. But when you drive a two ton vehicle at speeds that can kill and maim, you should be required to assume primary responsibility and awareness of the amount of damage your inattention can cause. Period.

    • Trainman

      Beautifully said, period.

    • anonymous

      So bikers should be allowed to just cut in front of you with no consequences other than getting run over?

      • Trainman

        Lets see:
        4,000 lbs versus 200 lbs?
        Who should act like an adult?

        • anonymous

          There is a big difference between driving or riding responsibly and assuming that the car driver is responsible for any accident because his vehicle is bigger. That’s just assinine.

          • Trainman

            Whenever I have a conversation with someone who drives in the city about the problems with bicycle riders, it’s usually with someone that doesn’t also ride a bicycle. I ride a bicycle for relational use most days in the summer and believe me I could list dozens of inconsiderate things drivers do to people on bicycles. The most dangerous situation I find myself in is when approaching an intersection (in a bicycle lane) and cars making right turns in front of me without signaling. Experience tells me to keep an eye on the front wheel of an automobile because that will give me the first indication someone will be making a right turn and cutting me off. Other times when I’m approaching an intersection and traveling about 12 miles an hour, a driver will actually speed up to make a right turn in front of me instead of letting me clear the intersection first, just to avoid a few extra seconds of driving time. Countless times during the day someone would be double park in a bicycle lane (clearly a violation) forcing me to go into the traffic lanes or even worse, a sidewalk.

            With all the people out there that use their cars as alter ego’s (meaning someone who would use their car in a inconsiderate manner towards another person that they would never do if they were face-to-face with that same person) it’s easy to understand why there’s so much controversy between drivers and cyclists. As a driver and a cyclists I find it difficult to understand what the big deal is when a lone cyclists is only peddling down the street and a motorist driving a 4000 pound hunk of metal, can find a bicycle rider a menace on the road.

            Give us a break, please!

      • Mat van Guilder

        A competent driver knows how to estimate speed, space and judge location. How responsive is the vehicle to acceleration and braking, how is the weather likely to affect the surface traction today, can you turn without flipping. Can you eyeball a parking space or an open lane and know you will fit, or not? Where are your blind spots? A competent driver knows when there is limited visibility and can anticipate what might be unseen in a given area – is there a lot of commercial, truck traffic, are there kids on skateboards near a park, a school, is there a shopping center, a restaurant? Someone has to be the “adult”. A vehicle driver is not automatically guilty, but does/should assume a level of responsibility attached to the superior power and force of a motor vehicle over a smaller or non-motor vehicle. A person without these skills is not prepared to drive.

  • Anon

    Cyclists should be made to get insurance if they are going to be riding all over the city in these annoying bike lanes. I know of two people who because of
    Cyclists had damage once to there car and the other to themselves , hit as they were crossing the street because the idiot on the bike was not obeying the traffic light, the person was hurt. They had medical bills because of this and could not recover any thing from the person who hit them…best we can hope for is to get rid of that jerk Bloomberg who believes he,s God and should never been able to run for mayor last time !

    • anonymous

      Great comment… Now you can see why I think you will need an operators license for your bicycle..If I am forced to carry insurance for damage and liability. So should the bicycle vehicle operator..Also in order to make a right turn you are forced into crossing a bicycle lane and possibly getting hit by an operator..If we are forced to share the street, then we should also share responsibility’s.

      • Trainman

        Anon and anonymous,
        Both of you have said that Bloomberg’s ever controlling godlike power over the city is too much to bear. Now your solution, because of a few people who ride bicycles badly, is to start a whole new agency to regulate, register and charge fees to ALL bicycle owners!
        Just what we need… more money going into the city coffers so Bloomberg can distribute it to the wealthy. Well, we have all those controls on automobiles. How is that working for drivers?
        Just thinking of that Cadillac who ran into the back of a bus. Licensing, drivers test, registration and insurance and we still got a guy who was so preoccupied he didn’t know a huge bus was in front of him until it was too late.
        The difference between drivers behaving badly and bicyclists behaving badly is when drivers behave badly, people get killed so let’s put this in perspective.

        Like I said previously, defensive driving courses offer no instructions on how to coexist with bicyclists on the road. If they did, drivers would know proper safety procedures when approaching an intersection with cyclists on the right. As a bicyclist I have learned to ride defensively because motorists are not familiar with the limitations of the rider.

        • anonymous

          Trainman : It is not my solution to give more power to the Fathead Midget Mayor..Just ask yourself why would the City spend millions of dollars on painting bicycle lanes all over the city ? To be nice to us ? I don’t think so. There is a plan behind all of this..The last time I saw a money making scheme like this was when they forced you to pay a boat registration fee. And get numbers for your boat..Not to eliminate accidents but to get money..While I agree that defensive driving,if on a bicycle or a car,is crucial to safe operation..Bicyclists should be made to carry insurance if they operate on the same roads as cars.Who are mandated to carry insurance..Accidents will always happen. You seem to feel that it is always the motor vehicle operators fault. I on the other hand think that bicyclists should be more careful and aware of the laws already governing their road behavior and be held responsible if they cause an accident to occur

  • Anonymous

    I once hit a person on my bicycle because he decided to take a short cut by crossing in the middle of a busy avenue.

    I once broke a car door because the person who just parked decided it would be a great idea to just kick the door open and into my lane.

    I once dented a quarter panel with my handle bar because the idiot decided he could cut into the bike lane because the vehicle in front of him was making a left turn.

    I once got ticketed for standing on my bike under a stop light on the sidewalk at a busy intersection because the nice Officer said I wasn’t suppose to be “riding” on the sidewalk ( Pleaded not guilty and showed up to court but the nice Officer never sent the ticket in. Wasted an entire work day )

    Every now and then its much safer to ride against traffic because at least you know the drivers WILL see you coming.

    Always wear a helmet and be courteous to all pedestrians. Ride with vigilance on the roadways and watch out for lousy drivers and that dim light of an cell phone indicator.

    It takes just one idiot to put you in a wheel chair for the rest of your life but just a few seconds of your time and ego to avoid the situation.

    Be smart and be safe people!