Safety Tips for Western New York Cyclists

Posted: April 7, 2022

Safety tips for WNY Cyclists

New Yorkers enjoy bicycling on roads for fitness, environmental causes, or just enjoyment. While bicycling offers a host of positive health benefits, it also comes with challenges. For example, if a car and a bicycle collide, the cyclist could sustain serious injuries that may not have been sustained had they been a passenger in a car. 

Notably, Section 1231 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that every person riding a bicycle “shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulation in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature have no application.”

To make the most of your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist on public roadways, read on for some safety tips to consider before riding.  

1. Choose the Right Bike Size

If a bicycle is not correctly sized, that could make it much more difficult to pedal and maneuver. An experienced bicycle technician can help you identify the correct bike type and size for your needs.

2. Make a Plan

It may be a good idea to prepare a cycling schedule. Every situation is unique, but some people may find that riding during the daytime may be preferred because of enhanced visibility. If you have to ride at night or in poor lighting conditions, use reflectors and lights to increase visibility. 


New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1236(a) provides that “Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting the standards established by rules and regulations…”

3. Inspect Your Bike

It’s a good idea to check your bike out before you ride it.

For example, bicycle riders may want to consider, among other things, whether:

  • The seat is at the correct height and is securely locked in place;
  • Nuts and bolts are tightened; 
  • Tires are properly inflated; 
  • Brakes are functioning properly; and
  • The chain is adequately lubricated. 

Bicyclists must ensure that brakes are fully functioning and responsive. For example, Vehicle and Traffic Law 1236(c) provides that “[e]very bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” 

4. Wear a Helmet 

Vehicle and Traffic Law 1238 requires bicycle passengers and operators under age 14 to wear protective headgear. Of course, regardless of age, it is always a good idea to wear a helmet because it may protect your head or reduce the severity of injury in the event of a collision or fall.

Some localities have laws that require all bicyclists to wear a helmet. For example, an Erie County ordinance requires the use of “a protective safety helmet while operating [a] bicycle.”  

5. Stay Focused

Regardless of where you’re riding, bicyclists must always use reasonable care and keep a lookout for potential hazards, including: 

  • Uneven, rough surfaces; 
  • Debris; 
  • Potholes and grates on the road; 
  • Slippery surfaces; 
  • Stopped or parked vehicles, as an unseen passenger may exit unexpectedly; and
  • Drivers turning (sometimes without a turn signal). 

It is essential to use your senses while bicycling on a public roadway. Section 375(24-a) of the Vehicle and Traffic provides that bicyclists cannot use “more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device.” 

Make Safe Decisions and Obey the Law

Bicyclists on the road must abide by the Vehicle and Traffic Law and any local laws or codes that apply to the locality. For this reason, bicyclists should make themselves familiar with their rights and responsibilities on public roadways, including those laws which relate to right of way, maximum speed, and turning. 

Hurt By a Car While Riding Your Bicycle? Call William Mattar

No matter how many precautions you take before embarking on a bicycle ride, there is always a risk that a motorist will negligently cause you to sustain a serious injury.

If you were injured by a car while riding your bike and are looking for legal assistance, don’t hesitate to call our New York bicycle accident attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. We would be honored to explain your legal options and discuss whether you are entitled to claim compensation.

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