Make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road and New York City and State laws on traffic and biking. Check out this page on NYC Bike Resources from Transporation Alternatives.

Riding Tips

  • Always wear a helmet. This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself. The majority of crashes involve some type of head trauma.
  • Equip your bike with front and rear lights and a bell. Lights greatly improve your visibility especially at dawn, dusk, and night. And a bell can help you alert traffic to your presence and those blocking the bike lane. These three things are also required by law to be on your bike.
  • Always look both ways, even when crossing one-way streets. Delivery bikes and emergency vehicles often drive in the opposite direction of traffic.
  • Green does not always mean go. It is not uncommon for cars to run red lights, and if they didn’t see the red light, they probably won’t see you either. Use your eyes to scan the intersection for oncoming traffic every time. You never know when a quick glance can help you avoid a collision.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Although many cyclists do not abide by this, it is against the law to run a red light or stop sign as a cyclist. It is also safer to stop. Fines for running red lights are upwards of $150.
  • When stopping, line up prominently at the light and keep the crosswalk clear. If you pull ahead of the crosswalk to wait for the light, make sure your rear wheel is not in the way of pedestrians.
  • No bike lane? Drive your bike like you would a car. If a bike lane is absent or obstructed on the block, claim a lane of traffic. It’s your right as a vehicle in New York City to take a full lane of traffic while riding and it ensures that cars can see you and respect your space. If you ride in the margins you risk getting doored or a car not seeing you and swiping you as it passes.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic. You’ll get to your destination more quickly than riding upstream against oncoming cars.
  • Ride on the driver’s side when on one-way side streets. It will increase your visibility to drivers and give them a better sense of how much room they need to pass safely.
  • Avoid car doors. When riding along parked cars, keep a distance of four feet. You’ll also avoid pedestrians.
  • Ride predictably and keep a presence. Don’t weave in and out of traffic or slalom around stopped cars. Take a straight line and stay visible. When changing lanes or merging, check your blind spot behind you and throw out a hand signal to let drivers know your intentions.
  • Stay alert around pedestrians. Pedestrians adjacent to the lane sometimes step into bike traffic without looking and cause both rider and walker headaches.
  • How to perform the safest left turn: Proceed through the light to the opposite corner of the intersection and wait for the green light going the other way. (If heading north, wait at the northeast corner for the westbound light.) This is called a “Copenhagen left.”
  • If confused, just ride your bike like you would drive a car. Remembering all the details can be tough and overwhelming. When in doubt, think about what you’d do if you were “driving” your bike. It all comes down to being as predictable, courteous, and present in mind and body as possible.

Understand The Risks Of Riding

Although the risk of severe injury has decreased 76% in the past 20 years in New York City, there are still risks to be aware of.

  • The top three crash types resulting in a cyclist fatality were: traveling adjacent to a motor vehicle (29%), traveling at a right angle to a motor vehicle (27%), and motor vehicle turn crashes (21%).
  • Be careful in intersections. The majority of cyclist fatalities (65%) and an even greater percentage of cyclist severe injuries (89%) occur at intersections.
  • Avoid streets without any bicycle facilities, the vast majority of cyclist fatalities occur on streets without bicycle facilities.
  • A high percentage of cyclist fatalities (27%) involved trucks, when compared to cyclist KSI (5%).

Stats from NYC Safer Cycling 2017 report.

Addtional resources: