Bicycle safety in NYC

Summer is here and almost 60,000 bicyclists will take to the streets, bike paths and parks of New York City. Maybe you are one of those throngs of two-wheeled enthusiasts.  But as fun as cycling might be, you need to be aware at all times. Accidents do happen.

Although accidents have been declining the last past few years, the threat is still very real. The last full set of DMV statistics from 2013 show over 3,000 bicyclists were injured and 22 killed. Brooklyn had the most collisions of any borough with 285 crashes. The majority of accidents involved cyclists and motor vehicles. This shows cyclists need to be vigilant when out on the road.

Many cyclists aren’t aware they have to obey the same basic road rules as cars. They think, “Oh it’s just a bike.” Not anymore. Bicycles have grown up and are now considered on a par with cars as a form of transportation. Along with motor vehicles and pedestrians, bicyclists have to obey the rules of the road.

Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles… Every person riding a bicycle… upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle…”

Some of the rules posted by the NYC Department of Transportation (NYDOT) include:

Ride in 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).

  • Ride with traffic, not against it
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you 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.
  • Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.

NYDOT has a pdf of bicycle rules you can download here.

They also offer a handbook called Bike Smart: The Official Guide to Cycling in New York City which provides information “on making your cycling safer and easier, including tips on using newer bike facilities such as protected lanes and bike boxes.” The handbook is also available in Haitian Creole,ItalianChinese, SpanishRussian and Korean

Using a bicycle to runs errands, go to and from work, and just for pleasure is a fun, healthy way to get around. Keep it fun and healthy. If you are unfortunate and are involved in an accident, get the driver’s information and do call the police and make a report.