Five Biking Laws Every Cyclist In New York Should Know

Given the gridlock experienced throughout most of New York City, many have turned biking as a way to get around the city. With biking now more popular than ever, it is a good time for cyclists to review some of the important laws that protect their safety and outline their rights on the road.

  1. Do bicycle riders have the same rights to the road as vehicles?
    Yes, cyclists have the same rights to the road as vehicle drivers. Specifically, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1231 states, "Every person riding a bicycle [...] upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights [...] applicable to the driver of a vehicle."
  2. So if cyclists have a right to the road, can they take up the whole road?
    It is not as simple as that. Even though cyclists have a right to the road, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1234 says the cyclists must use bike lanes, when available. If there is no usable bike lane, they should ride on the right shoulder, near the right curb or close to the right edge of the roadway — although they can move to the left when reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions, but they must do everything possible to avoid undue interference with flow of traffic.
  3. Do traffic laws apply to bicycle riders? If so, which ones?
    In most cases, with some obvious exceptions, the same New York traffic laws that apply to vehicle drivers also apply to cyclists. In fact, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1231 expressly states that "traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles."
  4. Can bicycle riders get traffic tickets?
    Yes, they can.
  5. Are bicycle riders required to wear helmets?
    While helmets are always a good idea no matter the age of the cyclist, New York law only requires helmets for younger riders. For example, cyclists aged five years or more, but less than fourteen, must wear certified bike helmets. In addition, children aged one to four must wear a certified bike helmet and ride in a child safety seat. Children under the age of one cannot be transported on a bike. It is important to mention, however, that some local communities have chosen to pass their own, stricter bike helmet laws, which cyclists must follow.

Even Cyclists Who Follow The Rules Get Into Accidents

Sadly, even if you know every single biking law and follow every rule to the letter, there is no guarantee that you will always be safe on the road. After all, you have no control over motorists or road conditions. For example, you cannot stop a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel any more than you can control how the city designs its streets and bike lanes.

If you have been injured in a serious biking accident — whether due to negligent street design or careless drivers — contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Edelman & Edelman, P.C. You can reach us online or by phone at 212-235-1197. Call us today and let our knowledgeable lawyers explain what legal options may be available.

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