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Old 10-31-12, 11:19 AM   #1
vol
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Clarify NY law about reflectors

Originally posted on the Northeast forum since it concerns NY:

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"(e) 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."
Just would like to clarify: If I have white reflectors on the wheels, but no red tail reflector, will I meet this requirement? (It doesn't say which part of the bike to equip reflectors)

Also, why does it require both a taillight-on and a tail reflector at the same time between dusk and dawn? "(e) Bicycles must have a white headlight, a red taillight and reflectors between dusk and dawn." If the taillight is on, what's the point of tail reflector?

(am not sure which of the quoted "(e)" overrides the other)
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Old 10-31-12, 11:38 AM   #2
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vtl 1236 lamps and other equipment on bicycles: (a) 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 or amber light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. (b) 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. (c) every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (d) every new bicycle shall be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel. (e) 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.
(e) doesn't require specific reflectors, just that the bicycle has some reflective devices or material.
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Old 10-31-12, 12:56 PM   #3
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There is a CPSC standard for reflectors, which the law maybe alluding to, but is a bit vague about. If you use reflective tape to US DOT standards, that would exceed the CPSC standard. The bit about having a tail light and reflector is mirroring the same for automobiles.
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Old 10-31-12, 02:18 PM   #4
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For what it's worth, I highly suggest powered lights if riding in non-optimal lighting conditions. For that matter, I recommend powered lights all the time (most cars have running lights, why not bicycles).
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Old 10-31-12, 04:38 PM   #5
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I always use lights when dark. What I'd like to know is, if I use lights, is it ok if I don't have a tail reflector? The reason I needed to clarify about this is, I don't have tail reflector (removed by the LBS when they installed the rear rack for me; they forgot to put it back.). I also hardly have room for it: on the seatpost it would be invisible and useless. Rack, seat stays, I use for my lights. But this law keeps bothering me. What kind of a cop would ticket someone who has the taillight on during the dark but is without a tail reflector?

On another note of the (un)usefulness of reflectors: since they are so directional, why don't they make it ball-shaped, so it will reflect in every direction?
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Old 10-31-12, 06:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
I always use lights when dark. What I'd like to know is, if I use lights, is it ok if I don't have a tail reflector? The reason I needed to clarify about this is, I don't have tail reflector (removed by the LBS when they installed the rear rack for me; they forgot to put it back.). I also hardly have room for it: on the seatpost it would be invisible and useless. Rack, seat stays, I use for my lights. But this law keeps bothering me.
It looks like you are legally good to go.
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What kind of a cop would ticket someone who has the taillight on during the dark but is without a tail reflector?
A NYPD jack boot.
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Old 10-31-12, 08:50 PM   #7
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On another note of the (un)usefulness of reflectors: since they are so directional, why don't they make it ball-shaped, so it will reflect in every direction?
Looks like you're fine in NY with just the rear light. I still prefer to supplement my rear lights with some reflective material since 1) just in case one or both lights fail and I don't notice right away, 2) reflectors are cheap and light - so why not, and 3) the ones on my pedals/shoes move up and down as I pedal and make it clear that I'm on a bicycle.

As to the directionality, cube reflectors and the materials using that principle are indeed very directional but the direction is always right back at the source of the light. That gives you the best visibility to any driver who has his lights shining in your general direction. It's very different from the directionality of a mirror surface which would have to be carefully positioned to be perpendicular to the incoming light in order for it to be reflected back to the source. A corner-cube reflector works the same as if you throw an elastic ball into the cube corner formed at the intersection of two walls and the ceiling - no matter where you stand in the room, if you throw the ball into that corner it'll bounce out coming back to you (at least if thrown hard enough so it travels in fairly straight lines).
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