Howto:Bike safely

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Courtesy of the NYC Department of Transportation

New York City has constructed two hundred miles of new bike lanes in the last three years and is taking several other steps to expand New York City’s bicycle network. With these new additions, it becomes even more important for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists to be aware of each other and take precautions to be safe.


What you’ll need

  • Bicycle
  • Helmet
  • Bell or horn
  • Reflective clothing


Follow the basic rules of the road for bicyclists

  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. Cyclists must come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs. Cyclists are required by law to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so, etc. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City even when no designated route exists.
  • Do not ride on expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes and thruways unless authorized by signs.
  • Do not wear more than one earphone attached to an audio device while riding (e.g. radio, Ipod, walkman)
  • Use the following safety and visibility equipment:
    • White headlight and red taillight must be used from dusk to dawn
    • Bell or horn (not whistle)
    • Working brakes
    • Reflective tires or reflectors
    • Helmets must be worn by children age 13 or younger, and helmets are strongly recommended for all others.

Remember these safety tips

  • Ride predictably, act like a good driver. Drivers are used to the patterns of other drivers. Ride in a straight line, obey traffic signs and signals, and do not weave in and out of traffic. Riding predictably reduces your chances of a crash with a motor vehicle.
  • Look, signal and look again before changing lanes or making a turn. Establish eye contact with drivers. Seeing a driver is often not enough. Make sure drivers see you before executing a turn or riding in front of a turning car.
  • Watch out for opening car doors. Be prepared for the possibility that a car door may be opened in your path. When possible, leave room between yourself and parked cars (3 feet is generally recommended) so that you can avoid a door that opens unexpectedly.
  • Stay visible. Wear brightly colored clothing for daytime riding. At night, use reflective materials and lights.
  • Use your bell. Your bell alerts drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists to your presence. And it is required by law.
  • Wear a helmet. Required by law for children age 13 or younger and working cyclists, helmets are a good idea for cyclists of all ages. While supplies last, the official New York City bicycle helmet will be fitted and distributed free of charge at DOT Safety City. Visit the Safe City website at: Call 311 to schedule a fitting. In order to receive a helmet you must: be present to get a helmet; learn how to properly fit and wear a helmet before you receive it; have a parent or legal guardian present to sign a waiver for children under age 18; for adults over age 18 receiving a helmet you must sign a waiver.


For additional information, the Department of Transportation (DOT) publishes a “Bike Smart” brochure:, which, according to the DOT website, explains rules for cyclists and how to use new bike facilities such as protected lanes and bike boxes. Additional bicycle safety tips can be found here:

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