Biking can be an excellent way to get around New York City. It's an efficient and affordable mode of transportation and friendly to the environment besides. If you ride a bike regularly or plan to, you should familiarize yourself with NYC bike laws. Just as New York City enforces traffic laws for motorists and pedestrians, the city government also expects bicyclists to do their part to ensure public safety.
This guide covers the NYC bike rules all residents should know.
New Yorkers who choose to ride a bike as a mode of transportation must follow the same traffic laws as motorists. These include:
New York State requires all bicyclists ages 13 and younger to wear a bike helmet whether they are steering the bike or riding as a passenger. The helmet should have passed safety inspection before giving it to your child to wear.
When selecting a bike helmet, make sure that it covers the top of your forehead and fits securely on the top of your head. The helmet shouldn't slide up or down or side to side if you have secured it correctly. If you do get into a crash as a bicyclist, be sure to replace your helmet even if it doesn't appear damaged. The Department of Transportation (DOT) occasionally hosts free bike helmet events to encourage more New Yorkers to protect their head and brain. If you take advantage of the offer, you must sign a waiver and demonstrate that you know how to put the bike helmet on correctly.
Children from one to four years old should only ride in a child safety seat in a pull-behind attachment. State law currently prohibits transporting an infant under 12 months of age on a bicycle. You could be fined $50 if stopped by New York City police for this violation.
Since bicycles don't come with built-in turn signals or brake lights like motor vehicles do, it's up to you to use manual signals to let other bikers, motorists, and pedestrians know what you are about to do.
To indicate you are about to make a left turn:
We recommend that you exercise additional caution when riding near a semi-truck, bus, or other oversized vehicles. The visibility on these vehicles can be poor, making it difficult for the driver to see you. This is especially true when you need to pass or change lanes.
New York City allows residents to ride their bike on most public roads. However, you cannot ride on an expressway, interstate highway, or sidewalk. Keep in mind that you could receive a traffic ticket for violating this law or any of the other NYC bike laws we have listed. Additionally, bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians just as motorists must do.
When a bicyclist crashes with a motor vehicle, it is often but not always the fault of the car driver. The motorist may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or choose to drive aggressively around bikes because motor vehicles are so much larger and heavier. Other common negligent actions by motorists include:
In our experience, crashes between cars and bikes happen because motor vehicle drivers forget that they must share the road with people riding a non-motorized bicycle. They fail to look for them, often with tragic consequences. Of course, bike riders are sometimes at fault too.
The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that you always follow NYC bike laws to avoid crashes with motorists, other bicyclists, and pedestrians
Sadly, we have also handled many wrongful death claims where a bicyclist was killed after a collision with a motor vehicle. You may file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date that a close family member passed away due to injuries sustained in a bicycle accident.
Even when you're careful and follow all bike laws in New York City, you can't control the actions of drivers or even other bicyclists. For example, someone exiting their vehicle could strike you with their door or run into you in a crosswalk even when you have the right of way. If you have sustained serious injuries in a bike accident, the law in New York State gives you three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
Raphaelson & Levine is a law firm in Midtown Manhattan that has been the voice of the injured since 1992. If you’re facing large medical expenses, wage loss, and other costs involved with your bike accident, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with our law firm by calling 212-268-3222. Your bike accident attorney will review your case and explain the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to recover compensation for your injuries.
An accident as serious as you suffered can change your life overnight. If you feel that another party caused your injuries through negligence, we urge you to contact our Midtown Manhattan law firm at 212-268-3222 as soon as possible. Our free consultation gives you the chance to share how your accident happened and how it affects your day to day life.