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Legal rights of cyclists: Road protections explained

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Personal Injury |

In New York, the law grants cyclists specific rights to ensure their safety and equitable treatment on public roads. Understanding these rights forms a fundamental part of being a responsible cyclist. 

Legal protections for bicyclists

Cyclists enjoy several legal protections designed to make their journeys safer on shared roads:

  • Right to the road: Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers and can ride on the road, with few exceptions. In areas where specific bans apply, like freeways and pedestrian-only paths.
  • Signaling and right of way: Cyclists must use hand signals to indicate turns and stops, they have the right of way conditions as motor vehicles. Left arm out for left turn, and out and up for right. 
  • Safety gear and visibility: Cyclists add to their safety measures by wearing helmets and using reflective clothing and lights, particularly under low-light conditions. 
  • Passing safety: Motor vehicle drivers are required to keep a safe distance, typically at least three feet.
  • Use of bike lanes: Where designated bike lanes exist, cyclists should use them, though they retain the right to join the main roads when obstacles or other considerations necessitate it.
  • Intersection rights: At intersections, cyclists have the right to occupy a whole lane, positioning themselves in front of or behind vehicles to maximize visibility and reduce the risk of collisions. 

Various state laws and local ordinances support these rights to protect cyclists from common hazards.

Staying safe on the road

Cyclists should not only understand their rights but also take practical steps if those rights are violated. Knowing your personal injury rights and how to protect them can affect your safety and legal recourse following an incident. 

This proactive approach ensures that your rights are fully protected and respected, letting you focus on what you love—cycling. 

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