15 Tips For Surviving On A Bike In New York City

The key goal of Citi Bike, New York City’s new bike share program, is to encourage residents and visitors to try cycling as a means of urban transport. 

Biking in the city comes with a lot of benefits: It’s healthy, convenient, gets you outside, and reduces carbon emissions in the atmosphere. 

This is a great idea until you start thinking about all the folks out there with as much experience biking as flying a space shuttle picking up a bike and tooling around New York City. 

Novices will use Citi Bikes and will be sharing space with fast-moving cars and pedestrians. This is equal measures terrifying and amusing. 

So if you are thinking about getting on a bike in NYC, whether on your own wheels or on a Citi Bike, here are 15 rules to keep you (and those around you) safe, legal, and from drawing the ire of New Yorkers.

You don't have to bike in a suit. If you can't shower at the office or a gym nearby, consider biking in a t-shirt, then changing once you've arrived. Bring deodorant.

Don't expect to be seen by drivers or pedestrians. Cyclists are an increasingly common sight in NYC, but they still surprise people who step into bike lanes or open their car doors without looking.

Get a loud bell. Use your loud bell. Often. It's good mostly for warning pedestrians you're in a bike lane, and so are they.

If you can't keep your bike inside, lock it up well (make sure the frame and both wheels are secured). If it's a Citi Bike, make sure to return it properly before walking away.

Don't be afraid to bike in the middle of the street when there isn't enough room for you and a car. You may annoy some drivers, but you have the right to take the lane, and won't end up being pinned between a car and a light pole.

If you want to listen to music, keep only one earbud in (that's the law in NYC).

Put lights on your bike (white in front, red in back). Use them. Buy a reflector vest too, for use at night.

Don't let bike grease ruin your pants. Roll the leg up, or buy a band to keep the fabric close to your skin.

Wear a helmet. It's not legally required for those over 13 in New York, but it's still a good idea.

Follow basic rules of traffic — you count as a vehicle, and should act accordingly. No going the wrong way on one-way streets.

Never use the sidewalk. It's illegal for everyone over 12-years-old.

Don't weave between cars, parked or not. Going in a straight line makes you more predictable, and less likely to surprise a driver who's not paying attention.

If you're riding your own bike for the first time in a while, get it tuned up. That way, you know your brakes will work and your tires are properly inflated. If you're grabbing a Citi Bike, make sure it's in working order before taking it out.

Want to try Citi Bike?

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