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Letter: State law does not prohibit bicycle-riding on sidewalks

I wish to respectfully disagree with the Jan. 3 letter writer, “Please keep vehicles on roads, not sidewalks.”

Using the dictionary and observations as a basis for opinion is fine but doesn’t align with multiple sources regarding the legal language in the State of New York, where there is no law prohibiting riding a bicycle on the sidewalk unless it is motorized.

What he stated by definition is a “vehicle,” but New York State law says, “motorized vehicle.” However, many municipalities prohibit riding bicycles on sidewalks. Surprisingly, there is no law against riding a bike while intoxicated, which seems odd to me.

The laws regarding riding a bicycle on sidewalks are more strict than riding a bicycle on the road. It’s too bad that the majority of the population is unaware of these laws.

On sidewalks, bicycles must obey all traffic control devices like stop signs and traffic signals, as well as yielding the right of way to pedestrians and motorized vehicles turning into roads and driveways, so as to not impede the normal flow of motorized vehicular traffic on the road. This includes bikes on the road having the right of way over a bike on the sidewalk.

To summarize, should you choose to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, please remember that pedestrians walking and/or crossing, and vehicles crossing the sidewalk each have the right of way. So, enjoy safe and legal riding on sidewalks in New York State.

Robert Tufte, DTE

Distinguished Technology and

Engineering Educator


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