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New York State Cycling Laws


New York State laws relevant to road cyclists can be found at

http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/lawssrch.cgi?NVLWO. Scroll down to VAT Vehicle and Traffic (no direct link is provided).

Article 34. Operation of Bicycles and Play Devices

Article 34 is relevant in full, but of particular importance are §1234 and §1236.


§ 1234. Riding  on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths.
 
(a) Upon all roadways,  any bicycle 
or  in-line  skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane  has not been provided,  near the right-hand  curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand  shoulder in such a  manner as to prevent  undue interference  with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited  to, fixed or moving   objects,  vehicles, bicycles,  in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for  a bicycle or person  on in-line  skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.
   
(b) Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding  on in-line skates 
upon  a roadway  shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding bicycles or skating or  gliding on in-line skates  upon a shoulder, bicycle  or in-line  skate lane, or  bicycle or in-line skates path, intended for the use of bicycles or in-line skates may ride two or  more abreast  if sufficient  space is available, except that when passing a vehicle, bicycle or person on in-line skates, or pedestrian, standing or proceeding along such shoulder, lane or path, persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates shall ride, skate, or glide  single file.  Persons  riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride,  skate, or glide single file  when being overtaken by a vehicle.
   
(c) Any  person operating a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line 
skates who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway,  alley or over a curb shall come to a full stop before entering the roadway.


§ 1236. Lamps  and other equipment on bicycles.

(a) Every bicycle when 
in use during the period from one-half hour  after sunset to one-half hour  before  sunrise shall  be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white  light visible during  hours of darkness from a distance  of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red or amber light visible to the rear for three hundred feet.  Effective July first,  nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.
   
(b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it  is equipped with a 
bell  or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred  feet, except that a bicycle  shall not be equipped  with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

   
(c) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the
 operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
   
(d) Every new bicycle shall be  equipped with reflective tires  or,
 alternately,  a reflex reflector  mounted on the spokes of each wheel, said tires and reflectors to be of types approved by  the commissioner. The  reflex  reflector  mounted on the front wheel shall be colorless or amber, and the reflex reflector mounted  on the rear wheel shall be colorless or red.
   
(e) Every  bicycle when  in use during the period from one-half hour
 after sunset to one-half hour before  sunrise shall be equipped with reflective  devices or material  meeting the standards established by rules  and regulations  promulgated by the  commissioner; provided, however, that such standards shall not be inconsistent with or otherwise conflict  with the requirements  of subdivisions (a) and (d) of this
 section.

Article 25. Driving on Right Side of Roadway, Overtaking and Passing, etc.

§ 1122-a. Overtaking a bicycle. The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of  a roadway shall pass  to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.

Article 9. Equipment of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles

Article 9 discusses the windows on a vehicle. Subparagraph (b), partially reproduced here, discusses darkened windshields and side windows. Darkened windows are illegal in most cases. Since darkened windows are dangerous for bicyclists, we should advocate for enforcement of this law.
(b) No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public highway, road or street:
   
(1) the front windshield of  which is composed of, covered  by or treated  with any material which has a light transmittance of less than seventy percent unless such materials are limited to the  uppermost six inches of the windshield; or
   
(2) the  sidewings or side windows of which on either side forward of or adjacent to the operator's  seat are composed of, covered  by or treated  with any material which has a light transmittance of less than seventy percent.

Article 26. Right of Way

§ 1146. Drivers to exercise due care. 

(a) Notwithstanding  the
 provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of  a vehicle shall   exercise  due care to  avoid colliding  with any bicyclist, pedestrian, or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall  give warning by  sounding  the horn when necessary. For the purposes of this section, the term "domestic animal" shall mean domesticated  sheep, cattle, and goats which are under the supervision and control of a pedestrian.
   
(b) 1.  A driver  of a motor vehicle who causes physical injury as
 defined in article ten of the penal law to  a pedestrian or bicyclist while  failing  to exercise due care in violation of subdivision (a) of this section, shall be guilty of a traffic infraction  punishable by a fine  of not  more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
 
2. If such driver of a motor  vehicle causes physical injury  while
 failing  to exercise  due care in violation of subdivision (a) of this section, then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that, as a  result of  such  failure  to exercise due care, such person operated the motor vehicle in a manner that caused such physical injury.
   
(c) 1. A driver of a motor vehicle who causes serious physical  injury
 as  defined in article ten of the penal law to a pedestrian or bicyclist while failing to exercise due care in violation of  subdivision (a) of this  section,  shall be guilty of a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or  by required participation in  a motor vehicle  accident prevention  course pursuant to paragraph  (e-1) of subdivision two of section 65.10 of the penal law or by any  combination of  such fine, imprisonment or course, and by suspension of a license or registration pursuant to subparagraph (xiv) or (xv) of  paragraph b of subdivision two of section five hundred ten of this chapter.
   
2. If  such driver of a motor vehicle causes serious physical injury
 while failing to exercise due care in violation of  subdivision (a) of this  section,  then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that, as a result of such failure to exercise due care, such  person operated the motor vehicle in a manner that caused such serious physical injury.  

(d) A violation of subdivision (b) or (c) of this section committed by
 a person  who has previously  been convicted of any violation of such subdivisions within the preceding five years, shall constitute a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one  thousand dollars, in addition to any other penalties provided by law.
   
(e) Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the court from
 imposing any other  authorized disposition, including a period of community service.