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Bicycle safety on the streets of New York City

Photo of Christopher Seleski

Even though they have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, cyclists are particularly vulnerable on the streets of New York. The New York City Department of Transportation is proactive in working toward bicycle accident prevention, promoting awareness and offering free safety helmets and fittings. However, there are many ways that a rider can reduce the risks of a collision.

Proper safety gear is essential for any cyclist. In addition to a DOT-approved helmet, this includes bright clothing that provides contrast from the surroundings during the day and reflective clothing at night. Front and rear lights and a bell are important for visibility and alerts, as well.

Drivers are not the only ones who pose a threat to cyclists. Anyone might fling open a car door in the path of a rider, which can cause severe injuries. By riding three feet from parked cars and using marked bicycle lanes whenever they are provided, this type of accident can be avoided. Cyclists are not permitted to ride on sidewalks, and following this law reduces the chance of a bicycle-pedestrian collision.

Traffic laws such as stop signs and signals when turning apply to bicycles as well as vehicles, and a rider must never ride against traffic. Weaving in between vehicles, even if they are at a standstill, is particularly hazardous.

Although people on bicycles must do their part, according to the most recent data provided by NYDOT, there were 3,884 bicyclists injured in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2013. Because of their relative lack of protection, riders are particularly at risk and should be on the lookout for distracted, negligent and reckless drivers whenever possible.

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