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What Are New York’s Bicycle Laws?

Posted on 11/05/22

If you want to ride your bicycle around New York, that’s fantastic. Riders are able to save some gas money, and they won’t have to worry about the same types of parking issues. However, we do want to make sure you understand some of the more important bicycle laws before you head out. These laws can help keep you and others around you safe.

Bicyclists Must Follow Roadway Laws

Under New York law and the law in New York City, bicyclists are granted all of the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the roadway. In other words, bicycles should be treated as vehicles. This is important information for bicyclists because they need to follow the same traffic laws that they do when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Additionally, motorists must treat bicycles just like they would any other motor vehicle on the roadway. This includes yielding the right of way when appropriate. Motorists are also not allowed to park or stop within bike lanes, and no vehicle is allowed to cross a bike lane unless required to do so to make a turn.

Required Equipment for Bikes

Every bicycle in New York must have the required equipment in order to remain legal on the roadway. This includes having a white headlight and a red tail light, and reflectors that should be used between dusk and dawn.

At night, the white headlight must be visible from at least 500 feet away in front of the bicycle. The red light on the rear of the bike must be visible from at least 300 feet away from the rear of the bicycle. At least one of these lights must be visible from at least 200 feet from the side of the bicycle.

Additionally, bicycles must have a bell or some other type of audible signal that can be deployed when needed. Every bicycle must have working brakes that will skid the tire on dry, flat, and clean surfaces.

Helmet Requirements

In the state of New York, any child under the age of 14 must wear a bicycle helmet when they are riding on the roadways.

Any bicycle rider 14 years of age or older is not required by law to wear a helmet. However, safety experts strongly recommend that every individual, adult and child alike, wear a helmet when operating a bicycle. Bicyclists are incredibly vulnerable to severe injuries when a collision occurs, particularly head, face, and brain injuries. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries.

Rules for Kids on Bikes in NY

There are not too many additional rules related to children and bicycles in New York. We mentioned the helmet rule for riders under the age of 14, and that is imperative. Additionally, children under one year of age will not be permitted to ride on a bicycle, even if they are with a parent. A child that is at least one year old but less than five years old must wear an approved helmet and be carried inside of a properly affixed child carrier on the bicycle.