Being safe when biking in New York City
There are rules and laws regarding bicycling. Some are widely known, and some may surprise you.
- The bicyclist is subject to all of the rules of the road and traffic that pertain to motor vehicle operators.
- Bikes are not be ridden on sidewalks unless the wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and the rider is less than 12. The illegally used bike can be confiscated, and the rider can be subject to a fine.
- A rider involved in an accident resulting in death or injury or property damage has an obligation to report it to the police.
- A bike must carry only the number of persons for which it was designed and equipped.
- A child aged 1 to 5 must wear an approved helmet and be carried in a properly affixed child carrier. A child under 1 is prohibited from riding a bike.
- A child 5 or more but less than 14 must wear an approved helmet. It is interesting that there is no helmet requirement for people over 14 although the general consensus is that all riders should wear helmets. However, a business which uses bicycles (e.g., food deliveries) must provide its employees with helmets.
- A rider cannot have more than one earphone attached.
Ignorance of the rules can be a trap for the unwary. For example, one of our friends, an avid bicyclist, was given a ticket by the NYPD for coasting with his bike on a walkway in Central Park. He was not pumping the pedals. There is a provision that there shall be no bike riding in City parks except for designated areas, such as bicycle lanes.
It is interesting that City’s rules are silent about the use of the new bike lanes. It is common sense that the bicyclist must travel in the same direction as the traffic (such as north on First Avenue) and along with the arrows painted on the roadway. Nonetheless, I have seen bikers travel the wrong way on the First Avenue bicycle lane.
New York City’s Department of Transportation provides a summary of the bike laws entitled “Safe Bicycling in New York City”. It is worth checking on the DOT’s website at www.nyc.gov/dot.
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