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Old 04-01-14, 07:12 PM   #1
j814wong
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What sort of roadways can I ride on?

What types of roadways am I legally allowed to ride on?

I'm guessing it's illegal for a bike to ride on the highway and expressways. However, I'm curious if there are laws for NYS that specifically dictate what types of roads I am legally allowed to ride on.
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Old 04-01-14, 07:25 PM   #2
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Minus the Thruway and expressway I think you can ride anywhere you want. I've ridden some pretty busy roads with fast moving traffic. Not enjoyable, but legal.
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Old 04-01-14, 09:14 PM   #3
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depends on where you are. If a throughway doesn't have a sign on the entrance that says no bikes, you are (probably) good to go
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Old 04-01-14, 09:23 PM   #4
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As a rule you're banned from all interstates, ie. I-87, I-90, etc., along with a number of other limited access highways, such as the Taconic Parkway, and all the parkways in the NYC metropolitan area. There are also a few limited access sections of rte. 17, but you can ride the old rte. 17 which runs parallel. Likewise with a few miles of Rte. 9.

Other than those, and maybe a few similar situations you can ride just about anything. However the limiter isn't the law, it's common sense. I've ridden all over NYS, and managed to avoid 4 lane busy roads just about everywhere. NYS is blessed with a fine network of older highways, that the interstates pulled traffic away from, plus a large number of smaller roads, aka blue highways, which can take you all over the state.

BTW- roads where you can't legally ride are clearly marked "no bicycles....." at the entrances. Roads where you wouldn't want to ride unless there was no choice aren't so clearly identified, but you'll know within the 1st mile.
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Old 04-01-14, 10:16 PM   #5
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BTW- roads where you can't legally ride are clearly marked "no bicycles....." at the entrances. Roads where you wouldn't want to ride unless there was no choice aren't so clearly identified, but you'll know within the 1st mile.
This is how it is in NJ as well. You can't get on the restricted roadways without passing a sign at the on-ramp--leastways, not unless you cut thru via some sort of off-road shortcut.
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Old 04-01-14, 10:19 PM   #6
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This is how it is in NJ as well. You can't get on the restricted roadways without passing a sign at the on-ramp--leastways, not unless you cut thru via some sort of off-road shortcut.
Yes. Route 4 in Bergen County is a perfect example of a road that's legal, but who'd want to, as is Route 17.
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Old 04-01-14, 10:29 PM   #7
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Absolutely, there are plenty of totally legal but completely inadvisable roads in the Garden State, and probably everywhere.
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Old 04-01-14, 11:32 PM   #8
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This is how it is in NJ as well. You can't get on the restricted roadways without passing a sign at the on-ramp--leastways, not unless you cut thru via some sort of off-road shortcut.
New Jersey also lets you get a permit from the Bike/Ped Coordinator that allows you to ride your bike on many of those restricted interstates and throughways:
Biking in New Jersey, Highway Restrictions, Commuting, Commuter Information
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Old 04-02-14, 12:53 AM   #9
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Even the interstate freeways are sometimes legal to ride on if there are no other viable routes. There are long stretches of I-5 near me in California where it's legal to ride a bicycle. They even have share the road signs with bicycles on them.
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Old 04-02-14, 09:57 AM   #10
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In California and most places in the U.S. that I've been too,you can ride on ANY highway that doesn't say you can't at the on-ramp.If you should actually ride there is another story.

Once your on the freeway in California,there are Share the Road signs,sometimes....And there is a sign telling you when you must exit.

In some places around California and the West in general,the freeway IS the only road.There are no side streets,repair roads,ect. ect.

Most of the time in California,when you see a Share the Road sign,when NOT on a freeway,it means whatever little bit of road you are now riding on...Is going to get worse...

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Old 04-02-14, 05:01 PM   #11
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Like others say, no limited access. While I've known that for decades, I was dismayed to learn that you can't ride a bicycle to the Kennedy Space Center. I'm a science nut. But that's enough to keep me away. I don't object to limiting my choice of route. But I don't appreciate a "you can't go there message"
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Old 04-03-14, 06:43 AM   #12
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Not sure about NY, but in PA bicycles can ride on any street except freeways, and can even ride on those if you get permission from the municipality. I imagine NY is similar.

As far as which roads you want to ride on...that's completely up to you. Personally, I stay away from roads with no shoulder and high speed limits.
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Old 04-03-14, 07:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by j814wong View Post
I'm curious if there are laws for NYS that specifically dictate what types of roads I am legally allowed to ride on.
All New York State Vehicle and Traffic laws that pertain to bicycles are here: NYS DOT Bicycling in NY, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Laws

NYS is a little different from most states.

First, we are defined as "traffic" (Sec 152) and specifically excluded from the definition of "vehicle" (Sec 159). We are granted "free use of highways" (Sec 316), then excluded from expressways and interstates (Sec 1229-a).

For when I'm challenged in the roadway, I cite 152, 316, 1231, and 1234.

152 - We are defined as Traffic
316 - Gives us Free Use of Highways
1231 - Grants us all the same rights, and subjects us to all the same duties, as drivers of vehicles
1234 - Gives us full use of the lane (with certain exceptions)

Perhaps tellingly, Sec 1146 puts pedestrians and cyclists on the same level as domestic animals (sheep, cattle, goats) when it requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid collision.

NOTE: All the links work and I've tested them. However the server at public.leginfo.state.ny.us is sometimes a little wonky. If the link doesn't seem to work, try, try again.

Last edited by tsl; 04-03-14 at 06:11 PM. Reason: added another link
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Old 04-03-14, 09:59 AM   #14
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tsl, that's VERY interesting to me, as I've done advocacy work, mostly in NJ. I moved to NY in August. I guess I should stop saying that bicycles are legally vehicles. The effect of these laws seems to be the same as if they were vehicles, because cyclists end up with the same rights and responsibilities as we do in other states. The difference seems to be in the terminology only. Do you agree?

NJ does not classify skates as vehicles so skaters don't have rights on roads. By the NYS laws, I see they do.
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Old 04-03-14, 10:57 AM   #15
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I guess I should stop saying that bicycles are legally vehicles. The effect of these laws seems to be the same as if they were vehicles, because cyclists end up with the same rights and responsibilities as we do in other states. The difference seems to be in the terminology only.
I don't like considering a bicycle as a vehicle. Then I would have to stop when the sign says "no vehicles". As it is I keep on cruising and think "that's not me".
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Old 04-03-14, 10:59 AM   #16
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Heh, good point, Walter.
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Old 04-03-14, 06:19 PM   #17
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Tom, also specifically excluded from the definition of vehicle are anything on rails, like trolleys, trams, or streetcars.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that it then reserves the definition of vehicle for cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, etc.--motor vehicles. Probably so that vehicle can be used as shorthand for only those in other traffic laws--possibly those having to do with registration.

I kind of like being part of the all-encompassing definition of traffic. As in, "I'm not blocking traffic, I AM traffic".
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Old 04-04-14, 08:08 AM   #18
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What types of roadways am I legally allowed to ride on?

I'm guessing it's illegal for a bike to ride on the highway and expressways. However, I'm curious if there are laws for NYS that specifically dictate what types of roads I am legally allowed to ride on.
That depends...there are stretches of Pacific Coast Hwy in CA where - due to the number of lanes a volume of traffic - you would think it is not bicycle legal but in fact it actually is. I suggest poking around your state's transportation administration website and searching for things like bike route, bike map, bike safety, etc. I even recall seeing some stretches of interstate highway while going cross country that are legal for bicycles, though I cannot remember where that was.
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Old 04-04-14, 10:01 AM   #19
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Tom, also specifically excluded from the definition of vehicle are anything on rails, like trolleys, trams, or streetcars.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that it then reserves the definition of vehicle for cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, etc.--motor vehicles. Probably so that vehicle can be used as shorthand for only those in other traffic laws--possibly those having to do with registration.

I kind of like being part of the all-encompassing definition of traffic. As in, "I'm not blocking traffic, I AM traffic".
tsl, yes, at first, it sounded wrong and annoying, but I can't find anything wrong with it. I also have that "I AM traffic" line ready but haven't had to use it yet.
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