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And Knowing is Half the Battle

January 12, 2011

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about cyclist’s rights, and with the ongoing biking crackdown it’s important to know the truth.  Take this news item from the Manhattan Times, a paper covering upper Manhattan.

Some of the laws that the police are reminding cyclists to obey include: no riding bikes on sidewalks except where signage permits or when the bike’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and the rider is twelve years or younger; bicycle riders must use bike lane if provided, except for safety turns;

(Italics mine.)

The wording of this piece may make casual readers think that cyclists may only exit the bike lane if they want to make a safe turn onto another street.   What’s a safety turn?

Thankfully, the actual law is much more clear.  Here’s it is, via Biking Rules.

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

You should ride in a bike lane, but you do not have to and it’s up to the individual rider to determine his or her own personal definition of “unsafe.”  In fact, with many bike lanes snowed over right now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bike lane to ride in safely.  Even in warm weather, it may be unsafe to ride in bike lanes since most painted lanes are within an unsafe distance of the door zone.  And you don’t need to wait until a bike lane is blocked by a car.  If you see a stray plastic shopping bag or tiny divot in the bike lane, move over to avoid it.

So, ride safely, ride legally, and know your rights.  This doesn’t mean you should weave all over the place, but it does mean that you can not receive a ticket for not biking in a bike lane.

One Comment
  1. Chris permalink
    January 12, 2011 12:22 pm

    They still might end up getting a ticket…

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