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NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law Excerpts

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Bikes & Wheel Sport Safety
Index & Overview

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These excerpts are provided for information only and NOT as the basis for legal or judicial determinations.  ALWAYS verify them against the most recent available copy of the law.  The entire Vehicle and Traffic Law, sorted by section number, is available from the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission. (scroll down to VAT) external link

Contents

Article 1 Words and phrases defined
§  102. Definition of Bicycle, Bicycle lane and Bicycle path.
Article 9
§  375 24-a. Use of earphones while driving or riding a bicycle
Article 34 Operation of Bicycles and Play Devices
§  1230. Effect of regulations.
§  1231. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates.
§  1232. Riding on bicycles.
§  1233. Clinging to vehicles.
§  1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skates lines and bicycle or in-line skates paths.
§  1235. Carrying articles.
§  1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.
§  1237. Method of giving hand and arm signals by bicyclists.
§  1238. Passengers on bicycles under one year of age prohibited passengers and operators under fourteen years of age to wear protective headgear.
§  1239. Reflective material and devices for in-line skating.
Article 25 Driving on Right Side of Roadway, Overtaking and Passing, etc.
§  1122-a. Overtaking a bicycle.
Article 26 Right of way
§  1146. Drivers to exercise due care.
§  1146-a. Approaching horses.

§ 102. Bicycle. Every two or three wheeled device upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, a chain or gears, with such wheels in a tandem or tricycle, except that it shall not include such a device having solid tires and intended for use only on a sidewalk by pre-teenage children.
§ 102-a. Bicycle lane. A portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.
§ 102-b. Bicycle path. A path physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way and which is intended for the use of bicycles.

§ 375 24-a.  Use of earphones while driving or riding a bicycle. It shall be unlawful to operate upon any public highway in this state a motor vehicle, limited use automobile, limited use motorcycle or bicycle while the operator is wearing more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device.

§ 1230. Effect of regulations. (a) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this article.
(b) These regulations applicable to bicycles or to in-line skates shall apply whenever a bicycle is, or in-line skates are, operated upon any highway, upon private roads open to public motor vehicle traffic and upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or in-line skates, or both.

§ 1231. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates. Every person riding a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

§ 1232. Riding on bicycles. (a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto, nor shall he ride with his feet removed from the pedals.
(b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.

§ 1233. Clinging to vehicles. 1. No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, in-line skates, roller skates, skate board, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle being operated upon a roadway.
2. No person shall ride on or attach himself to the outside of any vehicle being operated upon a roadway.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(i) vehicles in an emergency operation as defined in section one hundred fourteen-b of this chapter; and
(ii) farm type tractors used exclusively for agricultural purposes or other farm equipment; and
(iii) riding on the open, uncovered cargo area of a truck with the permission of the operator of such truck; and
(iv) vehicles employed by a municipality for local garbage collection; and
(v) vehicles participating in a parade pursuant to a municipal permit.
3. No vehicle operator shall knowingly permit any person to attach any device or himself to such operator's vehicle in violation of subdivision one or subdivision two of this section.

§ 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.

§ 1235. Carrying articles. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars. No person skating or gliding on in-line skates shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction. No person operating a skate board shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction.

§ 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.

§ 1237. Method of giving hand and arm signals by bicyclists. All signals herein required to be given by bicyclists by hand and arm shall be given in the following manner and such signals shall indicate as follows:
1. Left turn. Left hand and arm extended horizontally.
2. Right turn. Left hand and arm extended upward or right hand and arm extended horizontally.
3. Stop or decrease speed. Left hand and arm extended downward.

§ 1238. Passengers on bicycles under one year of age prohibited; passengers and operators under fourteen years of age to wear protective headgear.
1. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person who is under one year of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle nor shall such person be carried in a pack fastened to the operator. A first violation of the provisions of this subdivision shall result in no fine. A second violation shall result in a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars.
2. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person one or more years of age and less than five years of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless:
(a) such passenger is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner. For the purposes of this subdivision wearing a helmet means having a helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the helmet straps; and
(b) such passenger is placed in a separate seat attached to the bicycle and such seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the passenger in place and for protecting the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.
2-a. The commissioner shall promulgate rules and regulations establishing standards for helmets required to be worn while bicycling, in-line skating, or operating a skate board. Such standards, to the extent practicable, shall reflect the standards recommended by the Snell Memorial Foundation, Safety Equipment Institute, or United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
3. Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision two of this section shall pay a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars.
4. The court shall waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of paragraph (a) of subdivision two of this section would be liable if such person supplies the court with proof that between the date of violation and the appearance date for such violation such person purchased or rented a helmet, which meets the requirements of paragraph (a) of subdivision two of this section. Further, the court shall waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of paragraph (b) of subdivision two of this section would be liable if such person supplies the court with proof that between the date of violation and the appearance date for such violation such person purchased or rented a seat which meets the requirements of paragraph (b) of subdivision two of this section. The court may waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of subdivision two of this section would be liable if the court finds that due to reasons of economic hardship such person was unable to purchase a helmet or seat. Such waiver of fine shall not apply to a second or subsequent conviction under paragraph (a) or (b) of subdivision two of this section.
5. (a) No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person five or more years of age and less than fourteen years of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless such passenger is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner.
(b) No person, one or more years of age and less than fourteen years of age, shall operate a bicycle unless such person is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner.
(c) For the purposes of this subdivision wearing a helmet means having a helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the helmet straps.
5-a. No person, one or more years of age and less than fourteen years of age, shall skate or glide on in-line skates or a skate board unless such person is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner. For the purposes of this subdivision, wearing a helmet means having a helmet of good fit fastened securely on the head of such wearer with the helmet straps securely fastened.
5-b. No person less than fourteen years of age shall ride upon, propel or otherwise operate a two-wheeled vehicle commonly called a scooter unless such person is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner. As used in this subdivision, wearing a helmet means having a properly fitting helmet fixed securely on the head of such wearer with the helmet straps securely fastened.
6. (a) Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision five, five-a or five-b of this section shall pay a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars.
(b) The court shall waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of subdivision five of this section would be liable if such person supplies the court with proof that between the date of violation and the appearance date for such violation such person purchased or rented a helmet.
(c) The court may waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of subdivision five, five-a, or five-b of this section would be liable if the court finds that due to reasons of economic hardship such person was unable to purchase a helmet or due to such economic hardship such person was unable to obtain a helmet from the statewide in-line skate and bicycle helmet distribution program, as established in section two hundred six of the public health law, or a local distribution program.
7. The failure of any person to comply with the provisions of this section shall not constitute contributory negligence or assumption of risk, and shall not in any way bar, preclude or foreclose an action for personal injury or wrongful death by or on behalf of such person, nor in any way diminish or reduce the damages recoverable in any such action.
8. A police officer shall only issue a summons for a violation of subdivision two, five, or five-a of this section by a person less than fourteen years of age to the parent or guardian of such person if the violation by such person occurs in the presence of such person's parent or guardian and where such parent or guardian is eighteen years of age or more. Such summons shall only be issued to such parent or guardian, and shall not be issued to the person less than fourteen years of age.
9. Subdivisions five, five-a, five-b, and six of this section shall not be applicable to any county, city, town or village that has enacted a local law or ordinance prior to the effective date of this subdivision that prohibits a person who is one or more years of age and less than fourteen years of age from operating a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates or a skate board without wearing a bicycle helmet meeting the standards of the American National Standards Institute (Ansi Z 90.4 bicycle helmet standards), the Snell Memorial Foundation's Standards for Protective Headgear for use in Bicycling, or the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) bike helmet standards, or that prohibits a person operating a bicycle from allowing a person five or more years of age and less than fourteen years of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless such passenger is wearing a bicycle helmet that meets such standards. The failure of any person to comply with any such local law or ordinance shall not constitute contributory negligence or assumption of risk, and shall not in any way bar, preclude or foreclose an action for personal injury or wrongful death by or on behalf of such person, nor in any way diminish or reduce the damages recoverable in any such action. The legislative body of a county, city, town or village may enact a local law or ordinance that prohibits a person who is fourteen or more years of age from skating or gliding on in-line skates, operating a skate board, or operating or riding as a passenger on a bicycle without wearing a bicycle helmet.
10. No person shall skate or glide on in-line skates or a skate board outside during the period of time between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise unless such person is wearing readily visible reflective clothing or material which is of a light or bright color.

§ 1239. Reflective material and devices for in-line skating. The commissioner is hereby directed to promulgate rules and regulations to establish standards for reflective devices and/or material to be equipped into in-line skates pursuant to section three hundred ninety-one-m of the general business law.

§ 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.

§ 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.

§ 1146-a. Approaching horses. 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any horse being ridden or led along a public highway.
2. Every driver of a vehicle shall approach a horse being ridden or led along a public highway at a reasonable and prudent speed so as to avoid frightening such horse and shall pass the horse at a reasonable distance.
3. No driver of a vehicle shall sound the horn when approaching or passing a horse on a public highway.

Bikes & Wheel Sport Safety Index & Overview