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Orange County Transportation Council

Non-motorized Rules Of The Road

NYSAMPO Pedestrian and Bicycle Laws Fact Sheet 

The Vehicle and Traffic Law of New York State covers the rights of the pedestrian, bicycles and other non-motorized transportation in relationship to the road. These rules are usually not observed by the driver and typically unknown to non-motorists. The following definitions are applicable to the Vehicle and Traffic Laws:

§ 102. Bicycle.
Every two or three wheeled device upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, a chain or gears, with such wheels in a tandem or tricycle, except that it shall not include such a device having solid tires and intended for use only on a sidewalk by pre-teenage children.

§ 102-a. Bicycle lane.
A portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.

§ 102-b. Bicycle path.
A path physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way and which is intended for the use of bicycles.

§ 110. Crosswalk.
That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway between the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, between the edges of the traversable roadway.

Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

§ 130. Pedestrian.
Any person afoot or in a wheelchair.

§ 140-a. In-line skate.
A manufactured or assembled device consisting of an upper portion that is intended to be secured to a human foot, with a frame or chassis attached along the length of the bottom of such upper portion, with such frame or chassis holding two or more wheels that are longitudinally aligned and used to skate or glide, by means of human foot and leg power while having such device attached to each such foot or leg.

§ 140-b. Roller skate.
A manufactured or assembled device consisting of a frame or shoe having clamps or straps or both for fastening, with a pair of small wheels near the toe and another pair at the heel mounted or permanently attached thereto, for skating or gliding by means of human foot and leg power.

§ 140-c. Skate board.
A manufactured or assembled device consisting of a platform having a pair of small wheels near the front and another pair at the rear mounted or permanently attached thereto, for skating or gliding by means of human foot and leg power.

§ 143-a. Shoulder.
That improved portion of a highway contiguous with the roadway. 

§ 144. Sidewalk.
That portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for the use of pedestrians.

§ 130-a. Wheelchair.
A wheelchair is any manual or electrically driven mobility assistance device, scooter, tricycle or similar device used by a person with a disability as a substitute for walking.
An electrically driven mobility assistance device means any wheeled, electrically powered device designed to enable a person with a disability to move from place to place.

Rights of the Pedestrian

Article 27 Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of New York State dictate the “rules of the road” as they relate to the pedestrian.

§ 1112. Pedestrian-control signal indications.
Whenever pedestrians are controlled by pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words "WALK" or "DON'T WALK", or exhibiting symbols of a walking person or upraised hand, such signals shall indicate and apply to pedestrians as follows:

  1. Steady WALK or walking person. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by other traffic.

  2. Flashing DON'T WALK or upraised hand. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrians who have partially completed their crossing on the WALK or walking person signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the flashing DON'T WALK or upraised hand signal is showing.

  3. Steady DON'T WALK or upraised hand. No pedestrians shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrians who have partially completed their crossing on the WALK or flashing DON'T WALK signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the steady DON'T WALK signal is showing

§ 1150. Pedestrians subject to traffic regulations.
Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic-control signals as provided in section eleven hundred eleven of this title, but at all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this article.

§ 1151. Pedestrians' right of way in crosswalks.

  1. When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk on the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, except that any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overpass has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles.

  2. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

  3. Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

§ 1151-A. Pedestrians’ right of way on sidewalks.
The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alleyway, building, private road or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across such alleyway, building entrance, road or driveway.

§ 1152. Crossing at other than crosswalks.

  1. Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

  2. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

  3. No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.

§ 1153. Provisions relating to blind or visually impaired persons.

  1. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article every driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection or crosswalk shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing or attempting to cross the roadway when such pedestrian is accompanied by a guide dog or using a cane which is metallic or white in color or white with a red tip.

  2. No person, unless blind or visually impaired, shall use on any street or highway a cane which is metallic or white in color or white with a red tip.

  3. This section shall not be construed as making obligatory the employment of the use of a guide dog or of a cane or walking stick of any kind by a person blind or visually impaired.

 § 1156. Pedestrians on roadways.

  1. Where sidewalks are provided and they may be used with safety it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.

  2. Where sidewalks are not provided any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall when practicable walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Upon the approach of any vehicle from the opposite direction, such pedestrian shall move as far to the left as is practicable.

§ 1157. Pedestrians soliciting rides, or business.

  1. No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride, or to solicit from or sell to an occupant of any vehicle.

  2. No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.

  3. No person shall occupy any part of a state highway, except in a city or village, in any manner for the purpose of selling or soliciting.

Rights of other Non-motorized Transportation

In addition to the pedestrian the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law covers the rights of those riding bicycles, skates or in-line skates. Article 34 Operation of Bicycles and Play Devices of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of New York State dictate the “rules of the road” as they relate to bicycles, skates or in-line skates.

§ 1231.
Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates. Every person riding a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and hall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

§ 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths.

  1. Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.

  2. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a shoulder, bicycle or in-line skate lane, or bicycle or in-line skates path, intended for the use of bicycles or in-line skates may ride two or more abreast if sufficient space is available, except that when passing a vehicle, bicycle or person on in-line skates, or pedestrian, standing or proceeding along such shoulder, lane or path, persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates shall ride, skate, or glide single file. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being overtaken by a vehicle.

  3. Any person operating a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway, alley or over a curb shall come to a full stop before entering the roadway.

§ 1235. Carrying articles.
No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars. No person skating or gliding on in-line skates shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction. No person operating a skate board shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction.

§ 1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.
Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.

  1. No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

  2. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

  3. Every new bicycle shall be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, said tires and reflectors to be of types approved by the commissioner. The reflex reflector mounted on the front wheel shall be colorless or amber, and the reflex reflector mounted on the rear wheel shall be colorless or red.

  4. Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting the standards established by rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner; provided, however, that such standards shall not be inconsistent with or otherwise conflict with the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (d) of this section.

§ 1237. Method of giving hand and arm signals by bicyclists.
All signals herein required to be given by bicyclists by hand and arm shall be given in the following manner and such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Left turn. Left hand and arm extended horizontally.
  2. Right turn. Left hand and arm extended upward or right hand and arm extended horizontally.
  3. Stop or decrease speed. Left hand and arm extended downward.

Additional information can the viewed at the following websites.

Rights of the Horse Rider

The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law covers the rights of those riding horses. Article 34-B Riding Horses of the Vehicle and Traffic Law dictates the “rules of the road” as they relate to the Horse Riding.

§ 1260. Effect of regulations.
The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this article.

These regulations applicable to horses shall apply whenever a horse is ridden or led upon any highway and upon private roads open to public motor vehicle traffic.

§ 1261.
Traffic laws apply to persons riding or leading horses. Every person riding or leading a horse upon a roadway shall be granted all rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

§ 1262. Riding on roadways, shoulders and horse paths.
Upon all roadways, horses shall be ridden or led either near the right hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder, lane or path in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic.

Persons riding or leading horses upon a roadway shall do so single file.
Any person riding or leading a horse who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway, alley or over a curb shall bring the horse to a full stop before entering the roadway.

§ 1263. Carrying articles.
No person riding or leading a horse shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents such person from keeping at least one hand upon the reins.

§ 1264. Ban on night riding.
No person shall ride or lead a horse upon a roadway during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise. The provisions of this section shall not apply to horse-drawn carriages or carts or police officers, peace officers or park rangers mounted on horseback.

§ 1265. Wearing of helmets.

  1. No person less than fourteen years of age shall ride a horse unless such person is wearing a helmet meeting or exceeding ASTM F1163 (Safety Equipment Institute certified) Equestrian Standard. For purposes of this section, "certified" shall mean that the helmet's manufacturer agrees to the rules and provisions of a system that includes independent testing and quality control audits, and that each helmet manufactured by such manufacturer is permanently marked with the certifying body's registered mark or logo before such helmet is sold or offered for sale. For the purposes of this section, wearing a helmet means having a helmet fastened securely upon the head using the manufacturer's fitting guidelines for the particular model used.

  2. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall pay a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars. A police officer shall only issue a summons for a violation of this section by a person less than fourteen years of age to the parent or guardian of such person if the violation by such person occurs in the presence of such person's parent or guardian and where such parent or guardian is eighteen years of age or more. Such summons shall only be issued to such parent or guardian, and shall not be issued to the person less than fourteen years of age.

    1. The court shall waive any civil fine for which a person who violates the provisions of this section would be liable if such person supplies the court with proof that between the date of violation and the appearance date for such violation such person purchased or rented a helmet.
    2. The court may waive any civil fine for which a person who violates the provisions of the section would be liable if the court finds that due to reasons of economic hardship such person was unable to purchase a helmet.

  3. The failure of any person to comply with the provisions of this section shall not constitute contributory negligence or assumption of risk, and shall not in any way bar, preclude or foreclose an action for personal injury or wrongful death by or on behalf of such person, nor in any way diminish or reduce the damages recoverable in any such action.