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The Biker’s Rules of the Road

Though it may not feel like it yet, winter is here. We’re all familiar with the shorter days, freezing temperatures and occasional snowfall that winter brings, but what about the added dangers for pedestrians and cyclists?

Colder weather means many cyclists are bundling up, limiting their range of vision and mobility. Ice on the road and sidewalk poses a threat to pedestrians and cyclists alike.

As darkness falls earlier each night, most New Yorkers are now forced to commute after nightfall. The greatest number of auto collisions occurs in the late afternoon and evening, and accidents during this time tend to be more deadly. Driving after dark carries a three times higher fatality rate than during the day.

Cyclists make up many of the city’s auto accident victims. At least 4,463 New York bikers have been injured or killed in crashes over the last year alone.

Whether you’ve been biking in New York for years, or you’re as new to the sport as Citi Bike, it’s a good idea to review the rules of the road to make you a safer rider this winter.

Did you know that cyclists are required by law to use hand signals to turn and brake? Or that cyclists over the age of 12 are not allowed to ride on sidewalks, at the risk of having their bikes confiscated?

Bluetooth users need to remember that bikers are required to keep at least one ear free from earbuds at all times.

All bikes need to be equipped with a working bell, reflective tires, and working head and taillights from dusk to dawn. It’s also a good idea to wear reflective clothing when riding at night.

Unless otherwise specified, cyclists have to follow all the same laws as other motorists, such as stopping at stop signs and waiting for green lights.

To check out the full list of biking rules from the Department of Transportation, click here.

New York has already suffered far too many tragic, preventable collisions this year. Pay attention to the rules of the road, and stay safe this winter. Happy holidays!

Sources: Elliott, Hannah, “The Most Dangerous Time to Drive,” Forbes, 21 January 2009.

Furfarro, Danielle, “Proposed bill allows bikers to blow through red lights,” New York Post, 24 November 2015.

“Safe Bicycling in New York City,” New York City Department of Transportation.

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