Riding a motorcycle is one of the most efficient ways to get around a large city, but bikers put themselves at risk when riding in New York City. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles reports over 4,000 crashes motorcycle accidents across the state in 2018, including 226 crashes in the Bronx resulting in seven fatalities and over 200 injuries.
Although those numbers may not seem that high, a closer look reveals a cause for alarm. While motorcycle fatalities across New York City’s boroughs have continuously decreased in the past decade, the rate at which motorcycle crashes occur in the city is double the rate throughout the rest of New York state. Similarly, less than five percent of registered vehicles are motorcycles in New York City, but motorcyclist fatalities account for about 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the city.
If you are a die-hard biker, then you love riding and you aren’t going to get rid of your motorcycle just because of some statistics. But you should still be aware of the risks associated with riding in New York City and follow certain safety precautions. Younger bikers with less experience are especially at risk of an accident, with well over 50 percent of motorcycle fatalities among those who are under the age of 35. Below are some safety tips for motorcyclists in New York City:
Know Your Bike
New York’s busy streets require that motorcyclists handle their bikes well to avoid dangers and being involved in an accident. Handling your bike in sticky situations and heavy traffic requires buying a bike that fits you and getting some solid riding experience to learn the feel of your bike. Your bike should fit your body; when you are seated, the bottoms of your feet should rest on the ground without having to rest on your tiptoes. Similarly, you should be able to handle your bike while stopped without it being too heavy.
One of the best ways to get experience with your bike is to take a riders’ safety class. Even experienced riders should consider an advanced class where they might learn something new or help others learn. The New York State Motorcycle Safety Program offers a Basic Rider Course as well as multiple advanced options developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) at many locations throughout the city. If you are located in the Bronx, these courses are held at Lehman College.
Wear the Right Gear
- Helmets. New York law requires all motorcyclists to wear federally approved helmets. Helmets prevent fatal injuries to bikers more than one-third of the time and they prevent brain injuries about two-thirds of the time. Snell Memorial Foundation, an independent group that researches and tests helmets, recommends getting a new helmet at least every five years.
- Eyewear. New York law requires bikers to wear goggles or have a face shield when riding. Goggles, face shields, sunglasses, and other protective eyewear prevents dust and dirt particles, sand, rain, bugs and any other small debris from entering your eyes and compromising your eyesight while riding.
- Boots. Good riding boots are essential for safety. Not only do they provide stability at stop signs and stop lights, but they also protect your feet from sun, rain, wind, snow, etc.
- Clothing. It’s easy to layer up with protective gear during cool and cold weather rides, but you might be tempted to leave the gear at home on sunny summer days. The right gear protects your body from the elements the same way boots protect your feet. Many motorcycle jackets have special padding and some type of ventilation that lets air in while you are riding. You should also invest in a good pair of riding gloves to make sure that you don’t lose the grip on your bike if your hands get sweaty.
Strive for Maximum Visibility
The most popular bumper stickers from the last few decades include the Start Seeing Motorcycles decal. Motor vehicle drivers aren’t always courteous or conscious of bikers with whom they share the road. You can do your part by making sure that the vehicle drivers see you. You can increase visibility by doing the following:
- Wear neon or other bright-colored gear.
- Make sure you use your headlight, use your turn signals, and use proper hand signals at all times.
- Add reflective surfaces to your gear and your motorcycle.
- Avoid lingering in a car or truck’s blind spots, where an accident is most likely to occur.
- Don’t be afraid to use your horn to alert drivers to your presence.
Defensive Motorcycle Riding
With all the congestion and traffic in New York City, you need to ride defensively. This means that you should assume that each car you see doesn’t see you and may cause an accident. Some specific defensive riding tips include:
- Allow a safe following distance when you follow other vehicles.
- Don’t make erratic movements; give others the opportunity to respond to your maneuvers.
- Watch for turning vehicles and watch intersections closely for stray vehicles or cars trying to beat a yellow light.
- Stay in one lane as much as you can.
- Don’t ride your bike when you are drowsy.
- Don’t ride your bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Slow down for bends, curves, and street corners.
- Properly maintain your motorcycle, especially tires which can lose air or blow out and cause an accident.
- Watch for distracted drivers who might cause an accident.
Contact a Bronx Motorcycle Accident Attorney After an Injury
Even when following the rules of the road and riding safely and carefully, you still might be involved in a motorcycle accident, most likely one caused by a motorist. If you have sustained a severe or catastrophic injury or a loved one has lost their lives in a motorcycle accident, New York Law entitles you to seek damages in civil court after you have exhausted the policy limits of your no-fault insurance coverage. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help. Contact Bronx Attorney Ivan M. Diamond at (718) 588-2000 for a free case evaluation.