Rules of the Road

Safe city cycling means knowing the rules of the road that apply to cyclists. Not only will following the rules keep us safe and traffic-ticket free, but it will also have a positive impact on the overall safety of the streets. After all, we'll have to give respect in order to get it in return. Read up, these are our biking rules!

VTL= Vehicle and Traffic Law (New York State)
RCNY= Rules of the City of New York
AC= Administrative Code (NYC)

For a link to the NYC Department of Transportation's list of Laws click here.


VTL § 1231 Bicyclists are granted all of the rights and are subject to all of the duties of the driver of a motor vehicle.

RCNY § 4-02 (a) The provisions of N.Y.C. Traffic Rules are applicable to bicycles and their operators.

RCNY §  4-12 (h) Cyclists involved in accidents resulting in death or injury to person or damage to property must stop and give name, address, insurance information, etc. and must report to the Police Department.


RCNY § 4-08 (e)(9) It is against the law to park, stand or stop within or otherwise obstruct bike lanes.

RCNY § 4-12(p) Other vehicles shall not drive on or across bike lanes.

RCNY § 4-12(c) It is illegal to get out of a vehicle in a manner which endangers cyclists (often referred to as "dooring").

VTL § 1146 Drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.


VTL § 1236 (a) and (e) Bicycles must have a white headlight, a red taillight and reflectors between dusk and dawn.
(b) Bicycles must have a bell or other audible signal.
(c) Bicycles must have working brakes.
(d) Bicycles must have reflectors, reflective tires and/or other reflective devices.

VTL § 1238 (a) Children under 14 but older than 5 must wear an approved helmet.
(b) A child under one is not permitted to ride on a bicycle.
(c) A child one or more years of age but less than 5 must wear an approved helmet and be carried in a properly affixed child carrier.

VTL § 375 (24)(a) Cyclists may not wear more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device while riding.

AC § 10-157 Bicycles used for commercial purposes.

Working cyclists must wear business identifying information on bike and body, including operator's identification number.

Business must provide working cyclist with a helmet according to A.N.S.I. or Snell standards.

Working cyclists shall wear the helmet provided by business.

Working cylists must carry and produce on demand a numbered ID card that included operator's photo, name, home address and business' name, address and phone number.

Working cyclists must abide by all equipment requirements stated in VTL 1236.

Business must maintain log book that includes the name, identification number and place of residence of each working cyclist; and the date of employment and discharge. The log book must also include information on daily trips, identifying the working cyclist's identification number and name; and name and place of origin and destination.

Owner of business must file an annual report with the Police Department identifying the number of bicycles it owns and the identification number and identity or any employees.


RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide.

RCNY § 4-12 (p) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.

VTL § 1234 Cyclists must ride by the right hand curb and no more than two abreast. Does not apply in new York City. It is specifically superseded by 34 RCNY 4-02 (e).

AC § 19-176 Bicycles ridden on sidewalks may be confiscated and riders may be subject to legal sanctions (see also: RCNY § 4-07(c)(3)).

RCNY § 4-07 (c)(3) No driving bikes on sidewalks unless sign allows or wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and ride is twelve years or younger (see also: AC § 19-176).

Greenways When riding on greenways, stay on designated paths. No bicycle riding is permitted on pedestrian paths unless otherwise indicated. Violators are subject to fines and confiscation of their bicycles.

RCNY § 4-14 (c) No person shall ride a bicycle in any park, except in places designated for bike riding; but persons may push bikes in single file to and from such places, except on beaches and boardwalks.

RCNY § 4-12 (o) Bicycles are prohibited on expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes, bridges and thruways unless authorized by signs.

VTL § 1237 When turn signals are required, left turns shall be signaled with the left hand, and right turns may be signaled with either hand. [see the Biking Rules Hand Signals Section]

VTL § 1233 Clinging to vehicles or attaching bike to another vehicle being operated on roadway is prohibited.

RCNY § 4-12 (e) Cyclists must have at least one hand on handlebars at all times.

VTL § 1232 Cyclists must ride on a permanent seat, feet must be on pedals, and bike must carry only the number of persons for which it is designed and equipped.