Since Labor Day, the city has experienced an uptick in bicycle-related accidents. In mid-September, a female cyclist was fatally struck by a box truck in Tribeca. Several days prior, a Citibike rider was run over in Midtown and suffered injuries to her leg. Earlier this month, a cyclist struck a child near Central Park West. The child was taken to Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s in serious condition.
On November 5th, daylight savings will end, meaning twilight will descend upon the city earlier in the day, and the potential for biking accidents will increase. These accidents don’t just put cyclists at risk; reduced visibility is a hazard for pedestrians, as well. For these reasons, it’s wise for all travelers to review the laws and best practices for biking in the city.
A key point to remember is that bicyclists have the same rights as the drivers of motor vehicles. However, they also bear the same responsibilities. If a cycling collision results in the injury or death of a person, or in damage to property, the cyclist must stop and exchange their name and insurance information with the other party. They must also report the accident to the Police Department.
Every bicycle on the road must be maintained and have working accessories for safety, including a white headlight and red taillight that must be used from dusk until dawn, working brakes, a bell or other audible signal, as well as reflective tires or other reflective devices.
Like motor vehicle drivers, cyclists must obey traffic signs and signals, as well as pavement markings. While many streets lack designated bike lanes or routes, cyclists are allowed to bike on arterial and local streets throughout the city. However, if a bike lane is provided, then cyclists must use it, except in instances of access, turns, safety, etc. Cyclists may use either side of a 40-foot wide, one-way roadway. They are prohibited to ride on the roadways of certain bridges, highways, and expressways, though in these cases there is typically an alternate route for bicycles provided.
One important rule impacting pedestrian safety is that bike riding is not allowed on sidewalks unless there is a sign that specifically allows it, or the rider is a child on a small bicycle. Bicycles ridden on sidewalks are at risk of being confiscated, and riders may face legal sanctions.
Finally, here are a few important, but oft-ignored rules regarding cyclists themselves. Cyclists are required to use hand signals when making both right and left turns, as well as for stopping. Additionally, they must always have a hand on the handlebars/ steering device, and their feet on the pedals. Lastly, cyclists can only wear one earphone connected to an audio device.
Being aware of the rules for biking in the City can be vital to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists alike. Prepare for the end of daylight savings time by brushing up on the rules, and ensuring your bike is well-equipped with reflective devices and other safety accessories to keep yourself and those around you safe as the seasons change.
Evelly, Jeanmarie and Ben Fractenberg. “Boy Struck By Cyclist on Central Park West, Officials Say.” DNAinfo 6 October 2017.
Heins, Scott. “Box Truck Driver Fatally Runs Over Cyclist In Tribeca.” Gothamist 15 September 2017.
New York City Department of Transportation. “Safe Bicycling In New York City.” NYC.gov.