By Waldy Diez SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – After a long winter, it seems that everybody flocks to the streets with their bicycles in the summertime. Even though everybody may think they know how to ride a bike, Sgt. Bill Croft of the Syracuse Police Department says that not everybody actually knows how to ride their bike.
“You have to ride your bike with the same rules of the road as you would with a vehicle,” Croft said.
While common sense dictates that cyclists and motorists alike should look both ways before going through an intersection, traffic laws are also set in place to keep everybody safe on the road.
What’s legal and what’s not
According to Croft, the most common traffic violations in Syracuse are riding on the wrong side of the road and going down the wrong way of a one-way street. New York State law says bicyclists must ride with traffic to minimize the amount of crashes because they are more visible to motorists.
Other laws include wearing a helmet under the age of 14, having the appropriate visibility equipment, riding in a bike lane when one is available, and obeying all traffic signals and pavement markings.
While cyclists are generally allowed to ride on the sidewalk, Sgt. Croft says parts of downtown are off limits.
“In the downtown district, bordered by James Street, Adams, Townsend, and West Street, it’s illegal to ride bicycles on the sidewalks,” Croft said.
This is because the sidewalks are over-crowded; many of the businesses have outdoor cafes and have an increase in pedestrian traffic.
Croft says the sooner cyclists learn the laws, the sooner everybody will be safer. The city police, along with Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety, hold educational programs three to four times a year. These programs allow riders to learn all of the regulations, register their bikes with the city, and receive routine bicycle maintenance.
According to Syracuse DPS Detective CJ McCurty, the next event will be held in September. Students, other cyclists, and motorists all need to remember to share the road equally.
Chris Galli, an employee of Advance Cyclery Bicycle Shop in Syracuse, says it’s easy to stay safe on the road.
“Bike safety is really a lot of common sense,” Galli said. “You can use the brain that God gave you to just think about that and protect your brain as well.”