What Rules are applicable to Bicyclists in New York City?

In New York City injuries resulting from bicycles and pedestrians colliding is a growing trend. A recent New York Daily News Article warned of the dangers of speeding bicycles in Central Park.  The article reported that bicyclists regularly exceed the Central Park speed limit resulting in injuries to both pedestrians and bicyclists.   The bicyclists complained that collisions are caused by the pedestrians walking and crossing in the middle of the street. The article in the Daily News stated that police officers do surprise speed checks and give bicyclists tickets for infractions, including speeding.  But are bicyclists subject to the same rules as cars and other motor vehicles? What rules apply to bicyclists in the City of New York? New York City Traffic Rules apply in New York City.  The New York City Traffic rules apply to all motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in New York City.  The definition of a  "vehicle" under the NYC Traffic Rules excludes devices moved by human power, thus a bicycle is not a "vehicle" under the NYC Traffic Rules.  Relevant rules regarding bicycles found in the NYC Traffic Rules include the following: Section 4-07(c) states that bikes with wheels of less than 26 inches in diameter or driven by riders 13 years of age or older, should not be ridden on the sidewalk, unless signs direct otherwise. Section 4-12(o) prohibits bicycles on certain expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes, bridges and thruways.  Section 4-12(p)  states that whenever provided a bicyclist should use a bike path , except when necessary to turn or to avoid conditions to make it unsafe to continue within such bike path or lane. There are no other relevant rules regarding bicycle movement in the New York City Traffic Rules, and notably rules regarding Speed Restrictions and Traffic Signals refer to "Vehicles" and discuss "Pedestrians" but make no mention to bicyclists. The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws (VTL) will apply in the City of New York when there is no applicable New York City Traffic Regulation. Section 1231 of the VTL states that "Every person riding a bicycle ...upon a roadway shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application." Thus bicyclists are required to follow New York State Laws, including those that apply to vehicles, and govern speeding, traffic lights, and yielding to pedestrians.  Likewise, bicyclists are protected by the traffic laws that govern the drivers of vehicles in the State of New York. If you are a bicyclist, vehicle driver, or pedestrian involved in an accident in the New York, you should contact an attorney to help advise you of your rights.  Zalman Schnurman & Miner are New York personal injury attorneys who handle accident cases involving vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.  Call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) for a free consultation.

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