N.Y.C Bicycle Laws, Safety and Etiquette
There are, in fact, in New York, including some that could wind up costing you money. If you get caught running a red light, for instance, you’re looking at a $270 ticket—the same fine given to drivers. It may not happen as often as one would think, but don't let your guard down and remember the law.
Some of the most important laws to remember:
1. Cyclists are legally required to use a headlight and taillight.
2. Cyclists must have a bell, and some kind of reflective tape.
3. Cyclist may not ride with both headphones in your ears, or on the sidewalk at all.
4. Cyclists must adhere to motor traffic light rules. Stop at the red light!
5. Ride with traffic, not against it.
Of course, there are laws and then there are “laws.” While you can’t technically bike on the sidewalk, you should feel free to use it as a kind of on-ramp when arriving at your destination, depending on where you are. An empty industrial sidewalk in Brooklyn? Go for it. A packed tourist street in Midtown? Maybe not. You’ll also encounter many people salmoning, or riding against the flow of traffic, which is also illegal.
In order to keep the peace amongst navigating the drivers and pedestrians on the N.Y.C streets, it's best for bicyclists to follow an established etiquette. A selection of some important unwritten "rules":
1. Always pass decisively.
2. Never lock your bike to a tree or bus stop sign.
3. Remember that it's not a race.
4. Know when it makes sense to obey the law.
5. Always observe proper red light etiquette.
6. Pedestrians always come first.
Watch out for drivers. New York City drivers have a reputation for a reason, be extra careful and alert of all vehicles sharing the road. The most important thing to remember is to ride like you belong on the street, which you do. Timidity and second-guessing yourself is a quicker path to getting hurt than asserting your right to the road. You still might get doored at some point, or watch drivers blast through red lights, and you will stop short as someone almost hooks you. Stay alert, learn to anticipate what drivers will do, and don’t engage in any risky behavior until you’ve gotten used to the way people move around here.