side-by-sideOnly three states allow bicyclists to ride side by side but require them to ride single file when being overtaken by a vehicle. New York is one of those states.

This fine point of bicycling on the roads came up recently when I read an interesting post, Two by Two by JeanneEmery via Road Rights. The post, sent to me because of my Google Alert preferences (I mentioned I’m an avid bicyclist, right?!) featured great information originally included in the articl “How and when to ride side by side, legally” by Bob Mionske.

Bob, an attorney and former Olympic cyclist, broke down states’ legal attitude about side-by-side riding into three categories. I’m going to focus on New York and Pennsylvania, where I frequently ride (and practice law!).

Explicitly allowed: In 39 states, the law specifically allows cyclists to ride two abreast. But there are nuances to this. Pennsylvania is a state that allows side-by-side riding without any conditions against impeding traffic.

In New York, however, bicyclists are required to ride single file when being overtaken by a passing vehicle.

There are nuances to the law

There are two important ideas to take away from this information: 1. Single file it in New York state when a your riding with a friend or friends and a vehicle passes you. 2. Even if your state allows riding two abreast, be aware that there may be subtleties to the law, and that local and state laws might be different. You could find yourself riding through an area that prohibits side-by-side riding altogether.

Which brings me to the rules for the other 11 states:

In 3 states, side-by-side riding is generally prohibited – that means it’s a no-no, unless there are certain circumstances, such as an extra-wide bike path.

In 8 states, it is implicitly allowed. That means that there are no rules prohibiting it, and as long as you are reasonably safe about it, it is unlikely that you would be cited by law enforcement.

As with riding solo, riding two-by-two safely relies a lot on common sense and courtesy. No matter what state you live in, share the road wisely.

Thanks for reading and RIDE SAFELY,


James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
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