Bicycling is a popular activity in New York state, even more so in recent years as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to cars. Nevertheless, it is not without its dangers. New York State was the fourth-deadliest state for bicyclists in 2018-2019, and thousands of people are injured across the state in bicycle accidents every year.
While motor vehicle drivers are often at fault for accidents involving bicyclists, this is not always the case. Bicyclists can also be at fault in these collisions. If you are injured in a cycling accident in NY, contact an attorney for legal counsel.
Many bicycle accidents are caused by the negligent behavior of a motor vehicle driver, such as failing to act with reasonable care when overtaking a cyclist or opening a car door when street parked without checking for oncoming bicycle traffic.
Where a driver is found to have acted negligently, the bicyclist may be in a position to recover medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. If the bicyclist is tragically killed in a collision with a car, their family may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Bicyclists may also sometimes be at fault for their injuries because the same road rules apply to them as drivers. For example, a bicyclist may run a red light, or veer out in front of another vehicle without warning, making the bicyclist negligent.
In some cases, both the driver and the bicyclist may have been at fault in an accident. In this case, bicyclists can be found guilty of contributory negligence, which is when a court or jury allocates a percentage of the fault for the accident to the bicyclist.
What Traffic Laws Apply to Bicyclists in New York State?
According to the NY Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) §1231, anyone riding a bicycle is granted the same rights and is subject to the same laws as a vehicle driver. In addition, the following traffic laws apply to bicyclists:
- Bicycles Passing on the Right: Cyclists may only overtake a car when the car is making or is about to make a left turn, when on the street with free pavement unoccupied by parked cars, or when riding on a one-way street with sufficient width.
- Bicycle Lanes: Cyclists must use bicycle lanes wherever they are available.
- Riding Single File: Cyclists must ride single file or at most two abreast in lanes or where there is sufficient space for them to be separated by 1.5 meters. They must ride single file when overtaking a vehicle.
- Riding on Sidewalks: While the state of New York does not have any statutes prohibiting bicycling on the sidewalk, each municipality may have its own bylaws. In Syracuse, for example, you are not permitted to cycle on the sidewalk.
- Entering a Roadway: Cyclists must come to a full stop before entering a roadway from a driveway, private road, alley, or over a curb.
- Equipment: Bicycles must be equipped with lamps on the front and a red or amber light on the back that is visible when it gets dark. All bikes must be fitted with a bell.
- Brakes: All bicycles must be equipped with brakes that demonstrably function on dry, level pavement.
- Handlebars: At least one of the bicyclist’s hands must be on the handlebar at all times.
- Earphones: The use of two earphones when operating a bicycle is unlawful. At least one ear must be free at all times.
If these laws are broken, bicyclists can be held accountable for negligence or contributory negligence in an accident.
Tips to Improve Bicyclist Safety
The New York Department of Transportation provides a list of useful tips to improve cyclist safety. Some top practices to adopt include the following:
- Bicyclists should using hand signals to inform drivers and pedestrians what you will do next
- Bicyclists should never ride against traffic
- Drivers should use extra care when turning right across a bicycle lane
Legal Counsel for Cyclists Injured in an Accident
The Syracuse bicycle accident lawyers at Catalano Law have represented many injured bicyclists and can assist you in filing a claim against an at-fault driver. Our support means you can concentrate on healing and recovery rather than struggling with legal bills and insurance companies.
Catalano Law works on a contingency fee basis, so we receive no fee unless we obtain a settlement for your injury. This gives our clients the ability to pursue compensation without worrying about upfront legal fees.
If you have been in a bicycle accident in Central New York and the Southern Tier and you are considering your legal options, contact Catalano Law to set up an initial consultation.