Bicycle handlebars

The New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee makes a great point about bicycles on their website, – because most people receive bikes as kids, there is an ongoing perception that bicycles are toys.

When you ride a bike on the road, however, it’s not a plaything. It’s a mode of transportation, subject to rules just like other vehicles. Under N.Y. law, bicyclists have the same rights and obligations of someone driving a car. That means, a bike has the right to use the entire road but it also means that the bicyclist has the same obligations of obeying the traffic laws of the state of New York.

Despite the fact that bike riders have the legal right to use the road, cyclists must be especially careful because they are very vulnerable in traffic. SUV vs. SUV could be a fender-bender, but what happens in the case of SUV vs. bicycle? The most likely result would be serious injury to the bicyclist.

As a NY and PA personal injury attorney and an avid bicyclist, I’m very aware of the issues and dangers surrounding bicycling on the roads in our region. And, since summer will soon be here, I thought a refresher about bicycle safety was in order:

  • Wear a helmet. No duh, I know, and if you’re over 14, it’s not required by law. It’s tempting to give it a pass on a ride in a low traffic area, a hot day or anytime you’d rather not arrive at a destination with sweaty hair. OK, but even if you aren’t worried about your own brain, think about kids – any kid that sees you sans headgear is going to store that image away as proof that adults don’t think it’s necessary to follow the safest advice – why should he or she?
  • Don’t let familiarity breed carelessness. You’ve heard that saying, most accidents occur within 5 miles of the victims’ homes? I haven’t seen statistics lately to prove it, but it makes sense. If your body knows the route, your mind can start to wander and that’s going to cut down your reaction time if something does go wrong.
  • Give your bike a safety tune up. The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law has a list of requirements for a road-worthy bike in New York. It includes braking ability, a horn or other warning sound maker, and specifics about reflectors and lights. When you are getting your bike ready to hit the road, check the safety features as well as the tire pressure.

Thanks for reading,

James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529