What Are The “Rights To The Road” For New York Cyclists? Syracuse Bike Accident Lawyer Explains

I’ve recently been blogging about New York bicycle law and how to investigate and prove bike accident cases in New York. Today I am going to answer a common question I get from other cyclists.

Because I am both a New York personal injury lawyer and an avid bicyclist, my biking buddies often ask me about bicycle laws in New York. One thing they often want to know is whether it legal for them to “take the lane” rather than stay to the far right.

The answer is “sometimes”. Section 1234(a) of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law (not applicable in New York City) provides that, “upon all roadways, any bicycle . . . shall be driven either on a usable bicycle . . . lane or, if a usable bicycle . . . lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.”

So there you have it. You should “take the lane” to turn left. Be sure to signal left! Otherwise, stay right, unless you need to avoid some danger there.

Other important New York bicycle rules to remember:

You may ride side by side, but only two abreast, and must switch to single file when being overtaken by other vehicles. Sec 1234(b).

Keep at least one hand on the handlebar at all times Sec. 1235.

Never wear more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device Sec 375(24-a).

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central & Syracuse NY Bike Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.


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