Central New York Bike Accident Lawyer’s Springtime Bicycle Safety Reminders

This guy’s helmet is over the top!  Don’t worry; I don’t recommend it.

Fellow veteran bikers and newbies alike, it’s a new biking season.  Excited?  Good.  Now don’t get so excited that you forget safety.  Here’s a quick set of reminders (or for newbies, a primer):

Check your bike.  Sure, it’s a simple machine (compared to, for example, a car), but still, things can go wrong if you don’t take care of maintenance.  Bikes — compared with cars — require little maintenance. Are the breaks working? That’s the most important thing.  But for smooth and fun riding, you want all the parts to work together in harmony, like a symphony.  It might be worthwhile taking your bike in for an annual tune-up at the local bike shop.  If you are in the Finger Lakes region, I strongly recommend the Geneva Bicycle Center.  You’ll never find a more talented, fair and friendly gang . . .

Bike good to go?  Wait!  Don’t mount yet!  Protect your most important organ.  That’s right, your brain.  Before you even get on your bike, make sure you are wearing a good helmet.  Although New York biking law doesn’t require a helmet if you are over 14 years old, it’s the way to go.  Really.  What makes for a good helmet?  Go to this bicycle helmet guide site to find out.  The most important thing is to make sure it fits right.  Studies show that helmets do reduce the risk of serious head injuries by about 85%.

Ok, helmet on?  Check.  Bike tuned?  Check.  Ready to mount? No wait! Before you do, let’s go over some important New York bicycling laws.

Here are the the most important ones to know:

  • Generally, you must follow the same rules of the road that a car follows (e.g., stop at red lights and stop signs). See, NY Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1231.
  • If there is a usable bicycle lane available, you must use it.  If not, you must ride as close as safely possible to the right-hand side curb or edge of the roadway, or on the shoulder (if usable), except when preparing a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid a risk or danger.   In other words, stay as far right as you safely can, except if you are going to turn left, or it’s not safe to stay right, in which case you can “take the lane”.  § 1234.
  • You must signal your turns. For left turns, stick your left arm and hand straight out to left.  For right turns, you have two options:  Either extend right arm and hand straight out to right, or else left arm at right angle with hand and forearm up.  § 1237.
  • You can ride next to your buddy, but no more than two of you.  And even so, you have to switch to single file when a vehicle is overtaking you.  § 1234.
  • Many towns, villages, and cities in New York have local laws against riding on sidewalks (reason:  You could hurt a pedestrian and people backing out of driveways won’t be looking for you).
  • Although New York (foolishly in my opinion) allows cyclists to use one earbud § 375 24-a, you should use exactly NONE. The more you hear from the outside, the less distracted you are, the safer you are.
  • You need to use lights on your bike starting one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise.  White light on front, red on back. § 1236 (P.S.  Safety conscious bikers use blinking lights front and back all day long!).

Check out this link for a complete list of “rules of the road” for bicycles in New York State. Good luck!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

Email me at:  bersani@mbk-law.com     I’d love to hear from you!

Michael G. Bersani, Esq.

Syracuse NY Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels Bersani Kalabanka


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