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What to Do if You’re Injured on a Bicycle in NYC

It is a beautiful day in New York City, and you want to take your bike around the city instead of fighting the traffic.  You hit the road, and are joined by hundreds of others who are taking advantage of the biking lanes and getting some exercise. Riding a bicycle has become one of the best methods of getting around the City and has been becoming more popular thanks to ride share programs.  According to DOT’s 2010 Sustainable Streets Index, people who began using their bicycles to commute has increased by a staggering 262% in New York City from 2000 to 2010.  Many people have found that riding their bicycle to and from work, or to the market is both enjoyable and efficient.  However, riding a bicycle can lead to some problems. Bicycle accidents happen and because bicycles are smaller and lighter than vehicles when there is an accident, they can be severe.  With all the bicycles and cars zipping around New York City, what happens if you are injured in an accident? What are your rights? What should you do?

The attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw can fight for compensation for those who have been seriously injured in a bicycling accident.

What Are an NYC Cyclists’ Rights and Responsibilities

When you think of a bicycle rider in New York City, you may imagine the messenger with a backpack nimbly darting in and out of traffic.  The rider seems to weave through the maze of cars and blazes through cross sections with impunity.  However, bicycle riders in New York City are obligated to follow all of the rules of the road that apply to motor vehicles.  New York State has rules that are applicable to bicycle riders in their Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). Additionally, New York City has implemented its own set of rules for bicycle riders, which can be found in the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY).

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Under the VTL section, 1231 Bicyclists are granted all of the rights and are subject to all of the same duties as a driver of a motor vehicle.  New York City has incorporated this section of the Vehicle and Traffic Law in Section 4-02 (a) of the RCNY, which makes the provisions of N.Y.C. Traffic Rules applicable to bicycles and their operators.

The RCNY has designed several sections to protect cyclists riding in New York City.  Some of the most important section for cyclists to be aware of are:

  • It is against the law to park, stand or stop within or otherwise obstruct bike lanes.
  • Other vehicles are not permitted to drive on or across bike lanes.
  • It is illegal to get out of a vehicle in a manner, which endangers cyclists (this is often referred to as “dooring”).

While there are many other sections that are designed to protect cyclist the VTL and RCNY also impose requirements on cyclists to protect everyone. Under the VTL:

  • Bicycles must have a white headlight, a red taillight, and reflectors between dusk and dawn.
  • Bicycles must have a bell or other audible signal.
  • Bicycles must have working brakes.
  • Bicycles must have reflectors, reflective tires and/or other reflective devices.
  • Children under 14 but older than 5 must wear an approved helmet.
  • A child under the age of one is not permitted to ride on a bicycle.
  • A child who is between the ages of one and five must wear an approved helmet and be carried in a properly affixed child carrier.
  • Cyclists may not wear more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device while riding.

There are some specific rules for riding a bicycle in New York City. These include:

  • Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide.
  • Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.
  • Bicycles ridden on sidewalks may be confiscated and riders may be subject to legal sanctions.
  • No driving bikes on sidewalks unless sign allows or wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and ride is twelve years or younger (see also: AC § 19-176).
  • No person shall ride a bicycle in any park, except in places designated for bike riding; but persons may push bikes in single file to and from such places, except on beaches and boardwalks.

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You can find a complete list of these rules on New York City rules on their website.

What Do I Do if I am in a Bicycle Accident in New York City?

If you are riding your bicycle in New York City and suddenly find that a car or pedestrian has hit you, there are several important things you need to be aware of. Under the RCNY Section 4-12 (h) cyclists who are involved in an accident that results in death or injury to person or damage to property must stop and give:

  • Their names and addresses to the other person and vice-versa.
  • The cyclist must give any information they have concerning their liability insurance to the person who was injured or whose property was damaged.
  • They must report the accident to the nearest police station if there has been damage or death. Or they must give this information to the police officer who is at the scene.
  • Accidents involving motor vehicles must be reported as required by the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Unfortunately while riding a bicycle in New York City injuries are possible and can be severe. While wearing proper safety gear can reduce the likelihood of suffering severe injuries, it cannot fully eliminate the risk. As more and more New Yorkers take advantage of travel by bicycle through programs like the Citi Bike bike-share program, injuries to bicyclist can, unfortunately, only be expected to increase.

Contact a Queens Personal Injury Attorney That Will Fight for You

If you have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident due to a careless driver, pedestrian, or other reason call the bicycle accident attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw. We fight to obtain compensation for your severe injuries. To schedule your confidential consultation call 1-718-843-0300 or contact us online.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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