Cycling Safely in New York City

by  Mike Barish | May 10, 2012
Bike / zozzzzo/iStock

We recently included New York in our list of Top 10 Cities for Cycling. With the Citi Bike share program set to launch shortly and many hotels offering bikes for guests, we want to help you ride safely in this bustling metropolis.

Before you peddle off to your favorite landmarks, eateries, and parks, be sure that you’re ready for cycling in one of the busiest cities in the world.

Wear a Helmet
While only riders under the age of 13 are required by law to wear helmets, it’s a good idea for everyone to protect their heads when cycling. The new bike share program will not be supplying headgear, so be sure to pack your own if you’re visiting New York.

Use Bike Lanes
With 260 miles of bike lanes and more than 100 miles of car-free greenways, New York earned its spot on our list of best cycling cities. However, those bike lanes only benefit you – and protect you – if you use them. Map out your routes online (Google Maps provides cycling directions) before you go and always ride in the bike lanes rather than weaving through traffic.

Obey the Signage
The police will ticket riders for running red lights and blowing through stop signs. You might feel foolish waiting for the light to change while pedestrians cross the street, but the 60 seconds that you would gain by being impatient could cost you up to $270 in fines (the same as if you were in a car).

Sidewalks are Not Bike Lanes
It might seem like a good idea to ride on the sidewalk to get around double-parked cars, garbage trucks, and all of the other traffic that clogs New York City streets, but riding on the sidewalks is both dangerous and illegal. Riders over the age 12 are not allowed on sidewalks and could be fined more than $50.

Pay Attention
They say that you never forget how to ride a bicycle. That might be true, but, if you learned to ride in the suburbs, you’ll find that cycling in the city is a whole different animal. Keep an eye out for pedestrians darting into the street from behind parked cars, cab doors opening into bike lanes, traffic, and even other cyclists. Limit distractions by resisting the urge to listen to music while you ride. In fact, using headphones in both ears while riding a bicycle is illegal in New York City.

Of course, when it comes to cycling, let common sense be your guide. Avoid cycling at night, make yourself easily visible, and don’t take too many chances. New York is a surprisingly great city for cycling. Take advantage of it safely and you’re sure to enjoy yourself.

For general trip-planning information, see our New York City destination guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, and vacation packages.

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