Have you wondered why a person biking takes up the whole lane at times? Do you know why riding on the sidewalk is unsafe? Our friends at the New York Bicycling Coalition teamed up with the City of Albany Police Department and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to create two short videos that demonstrate bicycle laws in New York State. The rules of the road are there to keep people safe and moving whether they’re moving on a bike or in a car. #RideSafeDriveSafe.


When You’re Driving… Drive Safe

  • Bikes may take up the whole lane to avoid hazards (ex. potholes, doors of parked cars), turn left, if it’s too narrow to share the road, or to improve visibility at intersections.

  • If safe to do so, cars can pass bikes slowly by crossing double-yellow lines. We recommend at least 3 feet of space between car and bike when passing.

  • Always check for oncoming traffic before you open the car door by looking into the rear-view mirror or doing a Dutch reach.

  • Yield to bicycles on the right when turning right in a car, and yield to all traffic (including bikes) when trying to do a left turn.

  • Bikes can ride side-by-side but should return to single file when a motor vehicle is approaching.

Did you know? According to the AAA, 1 in 5 pedestrians are killed by drivers going 30 mph, but the death rate drops in half at 25 mph. Put safety first by being attentive at all times while driving and riding, and watching your speed especially on city roads. Regardless of how we move, we are all people on our streets.


When You’re Riding… Ride Safe

Hand signals, from left: Left Turn, Right Turn (alternate), Stop, Right Turn (preferred).  Source: League of American Bicyclists.

Hand signals, from left: Left Turn, Right Turn (alternate), Stop, Right Turn (preferred). Source: League of American Bicyclists.

  • Stop at all lights and signs, and signal all turns unless you need both hands to steer the bike during the turn.

  • Never ride in the opposite the direction of traffic. Crashes happen very often as people driving aren’t looking for traffic coming in the wrong direction.

  • Riding on the sidewalk and in the Commons is not allowed in the City of Ithaca (except for children 10 and under, and people with disabilities). Riding on the sidewalk is allowed everywhere else in Tompkins County, but it is often dangerous as cars don’t expect fast moving bikes on sidewalks.

  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, sidewalks, and trails. If you must be on a sidewalk, ride at a walking pace or walk the bike until you can go back on a road or trail.

  • You must have a bell at all times, and front and rear lights when biking at night. Helmets are recommended for all ages and required for kids under 14 years old.

Want to take a deep dive? Smart Cycling videos and guides from the League of American Bicyclists provide tips on how to optimize your safety and comfort while riding on the road. Bike Walk Tompkins also provides bike safety classes and information at events during the warm season. Find our next event on our Facebook page.