Bike Safety

Cycling is one of the truly great ways to travel around New York City — biking is efficient, affordable, equitable, healthy and environmentally friendly.

Reminders for Cyclists During COVID-19

  • Practice social distancing.

    Whenever possible, keep at least one bicycle length between you and others.
  • Wear a face covering while bicycling.

    It is not possible to socially distance at intersections and in some bike lanes.
  • Always practice good hand hygiene.

    Wash your hands with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer. Always wash hands after being outside and remember to wipe the handlebars before and after you ride.
  • Do not go for group rides with people who live outside of your household.

    Only ride with people you are already staying with at home and – when passing someone else on the road – leave as much space as you can to ensure you are adhering to social distancing best practices.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell.

  • Have fun.

    The mental and physical benefits of riding are extra important during this stressful time.

Bikesmart Cover page for the Official Guide to Cycling in NYC

Bike Smart:
The Official Guide to Cycling in NYC

Bike Smart: The Official Guide to Cycling in New York City is a helpful handbook with information on making your cycling trip safer and easier, including tips on using newer bike facilities such as protected lanes and bike boxes, and basic tips for locking your bicycle. NYC DOT distributes up to 325,000 copies per year of the New York City Bike Map, which contains the most important rules of the road highlighted in the Bike Smart Guide.

Download Bike Smart in English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean , Polish, Russian or Spanish

A child wearing a Vision Zero helmet smiles at the camera as someone’s hands adjust her helmet’s straps.

Helmet Fittings and Giveaways

NYC has provided over 260,000 free bicycle helmets to New Yorkers.

NYC DOT’s Office of Safety Education and Outreach partners with organizations and council members to host free helmet fitting events across the city.

Helmet giveaways were postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19, but will resume in 2021.

Please check with your local council member to see if they will be hosting a helmet fitting. You may also visit NYC DOT’s Facebook Events page, or contact NYC 311 to check for an event near you.

Helmet Self-Fit Events

Helmet fittings and giveaways in 2021 will follow special protocols:

  • All events will be socially distanced
  • All participants will be required to wear masks that cover their mouth and nose
  • Waivers will be filled out online instead of in-person
  • The person receiving the helmet will need to be present at the event
  • Participants will view a training video to learn how to properly fit a helmet
  • Participants will be given disposable tape measurers to measure their head’s circumference to select a helmet that is right for them

Six Steps to Properly Fit a Bike Helmet (pdf)


Get There Flatiron to SOHO

Get There

DOT's Get There bike encouragement campaign features real New Yorkers enjoying bike lanes across the City. The ads include a mix of familiar neighborhoods and landmarks, along with average cycling time, highlighting how quick a trip by bike can be. The campaign includes a collection of postcards, each focusing on an important cycling topic. DOT’s Bicycles and Greenways Unit and Safety Education and Outreach Unit distribute the campaign postcards, bike lights, and bike bells at public outreach events. Learn more about DOT's Get There campaign

We know you’re enjoying the ride, but there’s more than just getting there by bike! Check out some common myths and facts about biking: Biking Myths vs Facts Postcard, Spanish & Chinese (pdfs)

Get There - Biking Myths vs Facts

NYC Biking Laws

Cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all of the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles. Download a complete list of New York City bicycle rules

  • Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle's wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists. At red lights, wait for the green unless you see a sign that says "BIKES USE PED SIGNAL."
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City, even when no designated route exists.
  • Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.
  • Go with the walk, unless there’s a bike signal or sign, cross the intersection when the pedestrian signal shows the "walk".
  • Bike Laws Postcard, Spanish & Chinese (pdfs) Go with the Walk Postcard, Spanish & Chinese (pdfs)

Get There - Bike Laws

Safety Tips

For a Safer Ride

  • Ride in a straight line, obey traffic signs and signals, and do not weave in and out of traffic. Riding predictably reduces your chances of a crash with a motor vehicle.
  • Look, signal and look again before changing lanes or making a turn. Establish eye contact with drivers. Seeing a driver is often not enough. Make sure drivers see you before executing a turn or riding in front of a turning car.
  • Watch out for car doors. Be prepared for the possibility that a car door may be opened in your path. When possible, leave room between yourself and parked cars (3 feet is generally recommended) so that you can avoid a door that opens unexpectedly.
  • Stay visible. Wear brightly colored clothing for daytime riding. At night, use reflective materials and lights.
  • Use your bell. Your bell alerts drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists to your presence, it is required by law.
  • Don't wear earphones. By law you may wear one earbud, but keeping your ears clear is a much safer choice.
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets are required by law for children age 13 or younger and working cyclists, helmets are a good idea for cyclists of all ages.

Get There Safely Postcard, Spanish & Chinese (pdfs)

Get There - Get There Safely

Look Out for Others

  • Watch: Look out for people with long white and red canes or traveling with guide dogs. Remember, people with disabilities cannot always see or hear you, or tell how far away you are.
  • Wait: Always let people walking go first and keep the crosswalk clear. Remember, pedestrians have the right of way on shared paths and Greenways. Do not ride up behind or around a guide dog and owners.
  • Warn: Slow down near people walking, and ring your bell or call to let them know you’re coming close.

Slow Your Roll Postcard, Spanish & Chinese (pdfs)

Slow Your Roll postcard with icons and text reminding cyclists to:  
Watch: Look out for people with long white and red canes or traveling with guide dogs. Remember people with disabilities can’t always see or hear you, or tell how far away you are. 
Wait: Always let people walking go first and keep the crosswalk clear. Remember pedestrians have the right of way on shared paths and Greenways. Don’t ride up behind or around a guide dog and owner.
Warn: Slow down near people walking, and ring your bell or call to let them know you’re coming close.

While we continue to promote cycling as a means of transportation, we also want to help you identify our 175,000+ low vision or blind pedestrians.

Watch an audio described version of the Cycle Eyes video

For Children on Bicycles

  • Children under age one cannot be carried on a bicycle.
  • Children must be carried in a properly affixed child carrier.
  • Cyclists 13 or younger must wear an approved helmet.
  • Children 12 or younger should ride on the sidewalk, while adults must ride on the street.

NYCycles Newsletter Archive

The official newsletter of NYC DOT's Bicycle Program is NYCycles, an email newsletter providing updates on new bike lanes, bike-friendly events, and tips for new and experienced riders.

Subscribe to NYCycles monthly cycling email newsletter