- - The Ultimate Guild to Bicycle Safety NYC

The Ultimate Guild to Bicycle Safety NYC


In fact, did you know that between 2007 and 2011 the number of New Yorkers who used bicycles as their primary mode of commute doubled, and the amount of bicyclists is expected to triple by 2017.

According to data provided by the New York City government, in the span of merely three months, between October 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, there were 754 motor vehicle-bicycle crashes citywide, resulting in three bicyclist fatalities. Nearly half of all NYC motor vehicle fatalities are pedestrians, and seven percent involve bicycles. The New York City Bicycle Coalition and Department of Transportation is working overtime to reduce these rates.

We have provided a comprehensive guide that will 
help you stay safe while riding.


Bicyclists are free to enjoy the road nearly everywhere! The state of New York encourages motor vehicles to share the road and to respect cyclist safety. Riding is permitted on main streets, local side streets and, of course, in designated bicycling areas. It should be noted that designated route is not required, although bicyclists are typically safer if they choose to cycle in a bike lane, bike path or shared lane. New York City offers more than 800 miles of classified bike ride routes.

Cyclists are prohibited from riding in the following circumstances:

  • On expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes and thruways unless otherwise authorized by posted signs.
  • Against the flow of traffic.
  • On the sidewalk, unless the cyclist is under 14 years old and the bicycle has wheels that are less than 26 inches in diameter.

Tips For Riding in Traffic 

  • Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.
  • Bicycles are treated as vehicles; therefore cyclists are required to stop at all red lights and stop signs.
  • Cyclists are encouraged to keep right and to refrain from traveling in the center lanes, however riding in the middle lanes is permitted when necessary for the bicyclist’s safety. Bicyclists have the right to ride all the way to the left of a 40-foot-wide one-way street.
  • Riders should refrain from staying too close to the parked vehicles lane – they are urged to keep at least three feet between their bicycle and parked cars. Exiting passengers who swing their car doors open to unsuspecting bicyclists pose a serious risk on the road.
  • Use a white headlight and red taillight when riding at night.
  • Use a bell to signal presence when necessary.
  • Never wear more than one headphone at a time when riding. This will allow you to hear horns, voices and sirens more effectively.
  • Use hand signals when making turns. Always look over the shoulder before making turns or lane changes.

Remember that a left arm extended outward signals a left turn; a left arm in the “L” position signals a right turn; one hand down signals a stop.


New York State Law requires helmets for cyclists who are 13 years old and younger, however every rider is always encouraged to wear a helmet. After all, 74% of cyclist fatalities result from head injuries. Helmet usage reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 80 percent.

When shopping for a helmet, bicyclists should be sure that the helmet fits snugly and doesn’t rock from side to side when moving the head around. When wearing a helmet, cyclists should always buckle the chinstrap, be sure that the helmet doesn’t tilt either forward or backward and should beware of any cracks or damage in the helmet.



Remain visible on the road. When riding at night, cyclists are advised to wear light-colored clothing with reflective materials. From dusk till dawn, bicyclists are required to use a white headlight and red taillight.


Be seen and heard. A horn or bell can alert pedestrians and motorists and let them know when you are present. Due to the limited visibility of bicycles, many drivers cut them off or back into them without even realizing it. In certain scenarios, stopping a bicycle accident from occurring can be solely attributed to the use of bells and horns.

Handlebars should be tight and in line with the wheel height below a rider’s shoulder level. Grip ends should be replaced when they become worn out.


The spokes of wheels should always retain good tension and none should ever be missing. Tires must always remain adequately inflated and with good tread and no sidewall damage. Either the tires or spokes should be reflective.



The first thing to stress to a child is the importance of preventing a head or brain injury. By this time, parents understand that a helmet can save their little bicyclist’s life – but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Sometimes kids don’t feel cool when wearing protective headgear, or they don’t like how tight and clunky it feels on their head. The good news is that today’s child bike helmets are lightweight while remaining protective. They also come in cool colors and designs that kids love. This accomplishes two things – brighter colors will appease your child, while also ensuring that motorists are more likely to see them when on the road.

Check Equipment

Before letting your child take off, mom or dad should check the components of the bicycle. The seat, handlebars, chain and wheels should all fit tightly. Check the brakes to be sure they aren’t sticking, and feel the tires to test the amount of tire pressure.

Make Sure They Are Visible

No matter what time of day your child is riding, there are precautions that you can take to be sure that other vehicles on the road can see them. Dress your little cyclist in neon, fluorescent or other bright colors at all times when riding. Also be sure their bike is equipped with reflectors, as well as lights if they plan to ride at night. Flashing lights can provide extra safety.

Choose Safe Areas To Ride

Public bike paths, parks and low-traffic neighborhoods are always good places for children to ride. Roads with numerous potholes, puddles, loose gravel and regular traffic should be avoided.

Night Riding

Parents should refrain from allowing their young children from riding at night, when it is more difficult for others to see them. Even with bright clothing, reflectors and lights, kids are in harm’s way when they bicycle after dark – it is not only hard for others to see them, but it is more difficult for your child to see others, as well as hazards in the road.


Bicycle accidents happen every day. They can involve other bicycles or pedestrians; can be caused by the loss of control, the negligence of a motorist, or due to hazardous weather or road conditions. Being involved in an accident, especially a bicycle accident in which protection is minimal, can be frightening and jarring.

The following is a list of important steps to take in the event that you are involved in a bicycle accident:

Remove yourself from any potential additional danger. Get yourself out of the road, and then when it is safe, get your bicycle out of harm’s way to prevent your bike from getting maimed, and to put a stop to any other accidents from occurring.

Notify the police. If anyone has been injured, or if there has been any property damage, you and/or any motorist, pedestrian or cyclist involved in the collision are obligated to remain at the scene until the police arrive.

Gather information. Swap data with anyone else who was involved in the accident. This includes license plate number, driver’s license information, home address, phone number and insurance information. Obtain witness statements and/or contact information if anyone was around to see the crash. Take note of your surroundings and take pictures of evidence, such as the damage done to your bicycle and traffic signs.

Choose your words wisely and never negotiate with another party involved. Anything you say can be used against you as an admission of fault, so never utter the words “I’m sorry!” Also, with your adrenaline running high, your body may mask the extent of your injuries directly after a collision, and you could potentially have incurred more bodily damage than you originally think. Never negotiate with a motorist when it comes to the state of your body.

If insurance companies are involved, be careful what you say. Insurance companies are well trained to sound as though they are on your side, and that they understand the pain you are going through. In reality, most are looking for you to admit fault to avoid paying fair value for your injuries or property damage. Consider having an attorney speak with the insurance company on your behalf if you have been seriously injured. Insurance companies often pay much greater settlements if they are dealing with an experienced attorney.

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