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How pedestrians and cyclists can stay safe on New York roads

With warmer weather comes the desire to get out and be more active. For many people across New York, walking and bicycling will be simple ways to appreciate the improved local climate while getting some healthy exercise.

Whether you’re headed for a walk to look at the local foliage and get some fresh air or you’re cycling to work to save gas and get exercise, it is enjoyable to use your own body as your primary mode of transportation.

While there are many benefits to both walking and cycling, doing so on the road also puts you at risk for serious injuries caused if a motor vehicle crashes into you. There are certain ways that pedestrians and cyclists can help themselves stay safe if they have to travel closely to motor vehicles.

Make sure you follow the rules that apply to your form of transportation

The first thing you should do before you head out onto the New York streets is make sure you understand the rules that apply to pedestrians and bicycles. They are different.

Bicycles are a form of vehicle, meaning that they follow some of the same rules as motor vehicles do. Bikes travel with the flow of traffic, must obey traffic signs and should indicate their intention to turn, either by using lights or hand signals.

Pedestrians walking on the road, not a sidewalk, should walk against the flow of traffic. They should also follow posted signage, although they don’t have any obligation to provide signals about their intention to turn. Pedestrians should use crosswalks when available. Following traffic laws that apply to you will reduce your risk of causing a crash and protect you from shared liability if a driver does strike you.

Make yourself visible, but still assume that no one can see you

Whether walking or biking, making yourself visible to people in motor vehicles is of the utmost importance. For cyclists, installing lights and reflectors on their bikes is a good first step. For both bicycle enthusiasts and pedestrians, wearing bright colors, including shoes and possibly jackets with reflective material integrated, can help draw the eye of nearby drivers and potentially reduce your collision risk.

These steps can increase the likelihood of drivers noticing your presence, but nothing is foolproof on the road, particularly because many drivers simply don’t think to look for pedestrians and cyclists. As such, you should always be extra cautious, especially when completing a maneuver in close proximity to motor vehicles. If you act as though you’ve assumed they can’t see you, be able to stop in time if they do fail to notice you.