Bicyclists are permitted to drive in the road alongside cars and other vehicles. However, if a motor vehicle collides with a bicycle, the results can be disastrous for the rider. Therefore, it’s important for any cyclist to ride defensively and to take extra precautions to minimize their risk of accident and injury.

Today we examine a few ways for bicyclists to avoid a collision on the road:

  • Make yourself easy to spot. First and foremost, this means using a light when riding at night. It isn’t only safe practice—it’s also the law. In New York, you must ride with lights on your bicycle from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. You must use a white headlight and a red or amber taillight. These lights must make you visible to drivers 500 feet in front of you, 300 feet behind you and 200 feet to your side. In addition, you must install reflective devices on your wheels.
  • Make yourself easy to hear. New York law also requires each rider to install a bell or similar device on their bike in order to signal alerts to others on the road. This device must be audible from a distance of 100 feet. Note that the use of sirens or whistles is prohibited.
  • Indicate appropriately. New York law lays out specific guidelines for signaling certain changes while driving. If you’re slowing down or stopping, extend your left arm downward. To signal a left turn, extend your left arm out horizontally. To signal a right turn, you can either extend your right arm out horizontally or extend your left hand and arm upward, at a 90-degree angle.

In addition, while wearing a helmet will not lower your chances of being in an accident, it can greatly reduce your odds of suffering serious injury in the event of a crash. New York law requires all cyclists under the age of 14 to wear a helmet whenever they ride a bicycle. However, it is good practice for all riders.

If you’re riding a bicycle in New York, it’s important to understand the riding laws in the state. If you don’t follow these laws and you’re in an accident, you may be held liable.