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When sharing New York City roads with taxicabs, cars, buses and trains, commercial trucks, bicycles, and motorcycles, everyone who is controlling one of these vehicles is responsible for driving carefully and ensuring the safety of others. The duty of care for which each vehicle is responsible depends largely on the type of vehicle, whether the vehicle is privately or publicly owned, and the type and amount of damage that can be caused.
Bicycles and motorcycles are on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to responsibility to others while being operated on New York City streets. Though their duty to others is lower than that of cars, buses, trains, and trucks, New York City still has significant traffic rules and regulations that bicyclists and motorcyclists must obey in order for them to operate safely. 

Number of Bicyclist Fatalities

In 2012, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles estimated that there were a total of 6,137 crashes involving bicycles and motor vehicles. Of these crashes, 50 of them involved a combination of bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles. Of the 45 fatal crashes that occurred between bicycles and motor vehicles, all 45 occurred among bicyclists; in other words, not a single fatality was a passenger or a driver in the motor vehicle. It is obvious that the laws and regulations for bicyclists and motorcyclists were set out primarily to ensure the safety of those users more so than for the drivers and passengers of motor vehicles.

Summary of the Rules of the Road for Bicyclists in NYC

Some of the integral laws with regards to bikes and motorcycles are outlined in New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law and include the following:

  • Bikes are restricted from using sidewalks unless otherwise authorized (like bike paths) or the rider is 12 years or younger;

  • Bikes are restricted from being used on highways, interstate routes, bridges, or expressways, unless otherwise permitted by signs;

  • A bicyclist while on his/her bike may not use more than one earphone that is connected to a radio, cell phone, or other audio device;

  • At least one hand must be on the handlebars at all times, including when the bicyclist is carrying a package;

  • Bicyclists must use hand signals before they can turn left or right;

  • Bicyclists must wear a headlight and red taillight from sunset until sunrise, and their bikes must be equipped with bells, working breaks, and reflective devices on or around the tires;

  • Helmets are required for children until they are 14 years old and commercial bicyclists are required to wear a helmet provided for them by their company; and

  • All bicyclists are required to report to the New York Police Department any accident that has occurred if death or injury to a person or damage to property resulted.

Any bicyclist found in violation of any of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Laws may be subject to fines and citations, as well as possible personal injury suits brought against them as a result of any negligence or disobedience of the traffic rules and regulations. The traffic rules and regulations were created primarily to protect bicyclists as they are in a more precarious situation than motor vehicles; however, bicyclists owe a duty of care to anyone with whom they share the road, whether pedestrians, motor vehicles, buses, or other vehicles.

NYC Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a bicyclist or any other vehicle in New York City, feel free to consult with our personal injury lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C. Our legal professionals will be able to assess your claim and determine if you are able to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of another's negligent use of the road. You can reach us today at 212- 818-0600 or by sending us a message online.

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Keogh Crispi

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