Press Release - 05-01-2024

DMV news

Wednesday, May 1, 2024


May 8 is Walk, Bike & Roll to School Day

The month of May is National Bicycle Safety Month, so the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reminding all road users to share the road safely and responsibly whether driving, biking or walking.

Bicyclists are some of the most vulnerable roadway users and have the right to share the road and travel in the same direction as motor vehicles. Wednesday, May 8 is Walk, Bike & Roll to School Day, so drivers should be especially alert that day for children riding their bicycles to and from school.

“Spring is a great time to get your bicycles out and enjoy some great exercise and scenic views,” said DMV Commissioner and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder. “We encourage everyone who can to head to one of New York’s many biking trails, and we urge all road users to respect that everyone has the right to use the road.”

DMV offers advice for bicyclists in the online driver manual and tips for drivers on sharing the road. The GTSC offers tips for bicyclists, as well as skateboarders and in-line skaters, on its website.

Bicyclists should be predictable, seen, careful, and smart. Among the tips the GTSC offers are:

  • Drive your bicycle with traffic, not against it.
  • Use the shoulder or the bike lane rather than the road whenever it is safe to do so. It's the law!
  • Use hand signals when preparing to make a turn.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals.
  • Don't assume a driver has seen you. Establish eye contact or adjust your activity to make sure they are aware of your presence.
  • Use a headlight and taillight when driving at night. Use front and rear reflectors, spoke reflectors and pedal reflectors.
  • Wear light colored clothing and add reflective material to increase your visibility at night.
  • Use your horn, bell, and/or voice to communicate your presence to other motorists sharing the road with you.
  • Keep your bicycle's tires, brakes and safety equipment in good working order.
  • Look behind you and all around. The more you observe other vehicles and pedestrians around you the safer you will be.
  • Wear a helmet! It’s required for age 14 and under but beneficial for all.
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t bike and use a cell phone. If using a portable audio device, only one earphone can be worn while biking. 
  • Young children in the 10-14-year-old age group are at the highest risk. They have a field of vision one-third narrower than adults; are unable to determine the directions of sounds; cannot accurately judge speed or distance of moving vehicles; overestimate their own abilities; are easily distracted; and tend to focus on one thing at a time.

A bicycle driven on public highways must have adequate brakes and a horn or bell that can be heard at least 100 feet away. A bicycle used at night must have a headlight visible from at least 500 feet ahead and a red taillight visible from at least 300 feet behind. One of these lights must be visible from at least 200 feet away on each side. A bicycle sold by a dealer must have wide-angle, spoke-mounted reflectors or reflective tires, a wide-angle rear reflector, and pedal reflectors.

Drivers too should use caution.

Here is some advice for drivers on being aware of bicyclists:

  • Passing bicyclists can be very dangerous. Bicycles sometimes must swerve to avoid obstacles (a pothole, debris, a car opening a door, etc.). If you are too close, you might collide with the bicyclist.
  • Bicyclists are also susceptible to wind. Crosswinds may cause a cyclist to swerve into the lane of traffic unexpectedly. Also, when a vehicle drives past a cyclist, the shape of the passing vehicle may create a wake that draws the cyclist from their intended path. This could cause the cyclist to suddenly swerve into the traffic lane.
  • When you approach a pedestrian or cyclist, don’t assume they are aware of you. If you are approaching from behind, they may not hear you. Whenever possible, slow down and give them some extra room.
  • Driving defensively applies not just when you are driving, but also when you are parked. When parked or getting ready to pull out, be aware that bicyclists may come within 3-5 feet of your door. One technique that can help with this is to Reach, Swivel, and Look:

REACH: use your right hand (not the left hand) to reach for the handle to open the driver’s door.

SWIVEL: By reaching for the driver’s door handle with your right hand, this will cause your body to turn to the left, and help you look for a bicycle that may be overtaking you.

LOOK: Look alongside and to the rear of your car to search for hazards.

This method will help you avoid opening your driver’s door into the path of a bicyclist or other traffic.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee website also offers bicycle safety information. You can learn about bike rodeos, helmet-fitting events, and find educational material and resources.

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