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Bicycle Traffic Laws in New York City

Many people advocate for using fewer automobiles and more bicycles, especially in our cities. Bicycles are "green," first of all, and use no energy other than good old pedal power. They'd make us healthier if we rode one back and forth to work every day. One of the biggest arguments is that for every person you put on a bicycle, your traffic problems should decrease by about one automobile.

Troubling Trends

As great as that sounds, apparently New York City is encountering some problems with its bicycle-riding citizens. It seems that the freedom experienced by riding on two wheels often includes breaking a few traffic laws. The New York Times recently discussed a few of these, one of which even has an environmentally friendly name. Many cyclists ignore one-way signs and head the wrong way up one-way streets. The clever name for this? "Salmoning." Just picture a cyclist swerving from the front of one taxicab to another as he swims upstream on 17th Street. Running red lights and riding on sidewalks also were listed as some of cyclists more common violations.

Laws and Regulations

The New York City Department of Transportation actually posts a summary of bicycle laws and regulations. Some of these would probably shock most city cyclists. For example, bicyclists are required to use hand signals when turning and stopping or decreasing speed. Riders are not allowed to wear more than one earphone attached to an audio device while riding. And they are required to comply with all New York City Traffic Rules.

Many pedestrians, who are one of the major sources of complaints about bicycles, would be surprised by the existence of these laws and their applicability to bicyclists as well. And therein lies New York City's growing problem. According to census data, approximately three percent of us walk or ride a bicycle to and from work. However, in New York City, that percentage is 11 percent. More bicycles and more pedestrians mean more potential injuries.

Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists all need to find a way to coexist in the Big Apple. Traffic laws apply to bicyclists as well as motor vehicles. If you are injured by a bicyclist consult an attorney who is familiar with vehicle and traffic law.