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  1. #1
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    NYC Biking Etiquette for a Newbie

    This might seem strange, but I just bought a new bike to ride around NYC. Are there any unwritten rules that I should abide by? Are there any types of common courtesies I should look out for?

    What types of establishments can I bring my bike inside? For example, can I bring it into a Duane Reade or a supermarket? Sorry if this sounds naive - I'm a newbie!

    Also any suggestions of some *must do* paths/trails? For what it's worth I live in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    Unwritten rules? Let's see...um...be very careful while running red lights and don't run over little kids or old ladies...

    You probably can't bring the bike into most places. Lock it outside with good locks, but try to keep absences short or you'll be back to walking again...

    The Promenade by the water is a scenic place to ride.





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  3. #3
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Here's one pet peeve of mine - cyclists that filter in front of other cyclists at red lights.

    Here's the scenario - I pass one or a few cyclists, moving (sometimes) a fair bit faster than them. I hit a red light. At the red light, I stop behind the cyclists that are already stopped. 60 seconds later, the cyclists (that I had passed) filter through and park at the front of the pack. Light turns green. Now, I've already clearly demonstrated that I'm going to be moving faster than them, but now they're making me pass them again, often after waiting for all of the built-up car traffic to clear. If the lights are long enough, this process sometimes repeats with the same players a couple of lights in a row. It's damn annoying.

    So, all that being said, it's exciting times in BK for recreational bikers - the planned waterfront greenway, starting in your GP, is going to run all the way to Sunset Park. Should make for nice, relaxing rides.
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

  4. #4
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
    Here's the scenario - I pass one or a few cyclists, moving (sometimes) a fair bit faster than them. I hit a red light. At the red light, I stop behind the cyclists that are already stopped. 60 seconds later, the cyclists (that I had passed) filter through and park at the front of the pack. Light turns green. Now, I've already clearly demonstrated that I'm going to be moving faster than them, but now they're making me pass them again, often after waiting for all of the built-up car traffic to clear. If the lights are long enough, this process sometimes repeats with the same players a couple of lights in a row. It's damn annoying.

    Next time I'm passed I'll have to remember to stay passed

    It's those pedestrians coming off the Greenway who get to me. They see you're on a bike but they still insist on working their way in front of you as you wait in for the light to change. Then you have weave your way past them in the limited space of a graded crosswalk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
    Here's one pet peeve of mine - cyclists that filter in front of other cyclists at red lights.

    Here's the scenario - I pass one or a few cyclists, moving (sometimes) a fair bit faster than them. I hit a red light. At the red light, I stop behind the cyclists that are already stopped. 60 seconds later, the cyclists (that I had passed) filter through and park at the front of the pack. Light turns green. Now, I've already clearly demonstrated that I'm going to be moving faster than them, but now they're making me pass them again, often after waiting for all of the built-up car traffic to clear. If the lights are long enough, this process sometimes repeats with the same players a couple of lights in a row. It's damn annoying.

    So, all that being said, it's exciting times in BK for recreational bikers - the planned waterfront greenway, starting in your GP, is going to run all the way to Sunset Park. Should make for nice, relaxing rides.
    Also, different cyclists have a different idea of where the safest point to stop is at an intersection. Is it before the crosswalk, or after it? I tend to stop after it, which might annoy a faster rider who prefers to remain behind the crosswalk at a light. Could be part of the problem.

  6. #6
    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trueblood View Post
    Also, different cyclists have a different idea of where the safest point to stop is at an intersection. Is it before the crosswalk, or after it? I tend to stop after it, which might annoy a faster rider who prefers to remain behind the crosswalk at a light. Could be part of the problem.
    Yeah, I can see that - I do prefer to be on the far side of the crosswalk, but I don't move in front of anyone to do so.

    Oh, to the OP - please signal turns; it's good for everyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

  7. #7
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    This sound stupid but RIDE IN A STRAIGHT LINE! nothing worse than cruising along a greenway and getting caught behind someone weaving all over the place! Cyclists approach fast. I'm amazed when someone whizzes by me even tho 30 seconds earlier I looked back and nobody was there.

  8. #8
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
    Yeah, I can see that - I do prefer to be on the far side of the crosswalk, but I don't move in front of anyone to do so.

    Oh, to the OP - please signal turns; it's good for everyone.
    I've lived in NYC for something like 12 years, and I have yet to see ANYONE signal a turn.

    As long as there's space for me to get by, I'll move in front of anyone who's back from the crosswalk. Safety over etiquette.
    RIDE: Short fiction about bicycles • RUSA #5538
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    Senior Member WhyFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noteon View Post
    I've lived in NYC for something like 12 years, and I have yet to see ANYONE signal a turn.

    As long as there's space for me to get by, I'll move in front of anyone who's back from the crosswalk. Safety over etiquette.
    Many, not most, commuters along my route signal. I can't explain why you haven't experienced it. Maybe it's like having XYZ breed of dog - you never notice how many of them are around until you have one, yourself.

    Curious - why do you find positioning yourself as such (at stop lights) to be safer?
    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    I would wager that not riding in Minnesota is just as fatiguing as not riding in New York.

  10. #10
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noteon View Post
    I've lived in NYC for something like 12 years, and I have yet to see ANYONE signal a turn.

    As long as there's space for me to get by, I'll move in front of anyone who's back from the crosswalk. Safety over etiquette.
    I try to remember to signal turns ever since I got tangled up with some guy trying to pass me in East River Park.

    The other day, riding south of the Greenway, hugging the center line trying to indicate that faster cyclists should pass me on the right, I hung out my left arm to signal I was about to make a left turn out onto Christopher Street. Just as I put my hand back on the bar, and as I was leaning into the turn, some cyclist called out "on your left." Good thing I heard him! Even if you signal there's no guarantee other cyclists will actually acknowledge it.

  11. #11
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
    Many, not most, commuters along my route signal. I can't explain why you haven't experienced it. Maybe it's like having XYZ breed of dog - you never notice how many of them are around until you have one, yourself.

    Curious - why do you find positioning yourself as such (at stop lights) to be safer?
    No, they really don't signal. There's no signaling in the areas where I've lived. Maybe it's a Brooklyn thing.

    I think stopping ahead of the crosswalk is safer for three reasons, the first two of which are my reasons for doing it.

    1. I'm not inside the right turn of any of the cars.
    2. I'm not in anyone's blind spot.
    3. Better visibility of cross-traffic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noteon View Post
    I've lived in NYC for something like 12 years, and I have yet to see ANYONE signal a turn.

    As long as there's space for me to get by, I'll move in front of anyone who's back from the crosswalk. Safety over etiquette.
    Ayiah... didn't you get the memo??
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  13. #13
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henria86 View Post
    Ayiah... didn't you get the memo??
    I get lots of memos. My wife puts them in stacks in the dining room and I eventually throw them away. Were some of them important?
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  14. #14
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    NYC is weird about how traffic flow is meant to behave on the bike paths. You may want to peruse this thread.
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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    Boosted Mr2 henria86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noteon View Post
    I get lots of memos. My wife puts them in stacks in the dining room and I eventually throw them away. Were some of them important?
    Yah that Air an Steve are going to show you the rite way to ride LOL
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  16. #16
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henria86 View Post
    Yah that Air an Steve are going to show you the rite way to ride LOL
    Having ridden with them, I can say up front:

    BAHAHAHAHAHA!
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  17. #17
    stole your bike roadiejorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYYankeeGirl View Post
    This might seem strange, but I just bought a new bike to ride around NYC. Are there any unwritten rules that I should abide by? Are there any types of common courtesies I should look out for?

    What types of establishments can I bring my bike inside? For example, can I bring it into a Duane Reade or a supermarket? Sorry if this sounds naive - I'm a newbie!

    Also any suggestions of some *must do* paths/trails? For what it's worth I live in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
    Just stay out of my way and you'll be fine.

    I like pie

  18. #18
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    The unwritten rule is that there are no rules. Common sense and courtesy help.

    I went from Greenpoint's Newtown Creek to Coney Island along the waterfront just a week ago. There is a bike lane that runs through Williamsburg and then you'll be on marked and unmarked streets through to Red Hook. From there you're on your own until you get to the Belt Parkway at 69th St. There are a lot of spots that are really bad for cycling along this path. I'm a native Brooklynite that has lived here almost all of my 55 years and had never done that before, for that matter I'd never been on the "waterfront" at Newtown Creek before. To call it a creek is being generous. There was one kayaker in there and I expected his boat to melt in the crud. I'd wear a hazmat suit if I were kayaking there.

  19. #19
    My grammar sucks. a_phat_beat's Avatar
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    be prepared to die at any moment.
    "...I thought about evening when the boys wash up, sing, eat, raise a cup of wine in honor of love and life, and waiting at the door, the bicycle, stilled, because only moving does it have a soul, and fallen there it isn't a translucent insect humming through summer but a cold skeleton that will return to life only when it's needed, when it's light, that is, with the resurrection of each day." -- Pablo Neruda

  20. #20
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    don't dress provacatively riding through williamsburg or the "hassids" will "buzz" you very closely with their minivans

  21. #21
    Senior Member NateRod's Avatar
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    My advice, in addition to what others have said: just obey the rules of the road. Many cyclists feel entitled to ride like idiots as if the rules of the road do not apply to them since they're not on a motor vehicle. A bike, wrongly ridden, is just as dangerous as a car.

    Don't blow past stop signs and red lights. At least stop for a quick second, have a good look at what's going on around you, THEN decide whether its safe to keep going on or not. and FOR F***'S SAKE DON'T BE A SALMON! Don't ride against the flow of traffic... unless it's a deserted street with almost zero traffic, and maybe for a block, at most, while you find your way into a cross street to ride the proper way.

    That said try and avoid big, busy avenues at first, while you get the hang of it. Lots of traffic, plus people driving like lunatics, plus inexperience can all be a recipe for disaster. Look for bike paths, streets with bike lanes, and streets with lower traffic. And always, of course, regardless of how light or heavy it may be, remain wary of traffic. Don't assume that everyone is a safe, considerate driver (most are not), so stay alert.

    Most people don't signal (I do), but it's good practice. Keeps other cyclists, and some drivers alert of your moves and slightly decreases your chances of getting mowed over.

    Be wary of runners and walkers, especially if they're in packs of two and more, especially over the bridges. A lot of them love to take over the bike lane, instead of going on their assigned pedestrian / walker / runner lane. Usually a simple, loud "LEFT!" lets them know that you're coming up on their left side, and they should get out of the way. If the first yell doesn't work, feel free to try it again, with higher intensity each time that you need to do it. (I've had the occasional curse slip out when they're really stubborn... not on purpose, but it happens.)

    And just relax. Don't be trying to outride everyone. Go at a pace that feels good and safe to you and enjoy your ride. Not much else. Riding in NYC can feel daunting at first, but after a while, it'll be great.

    Good luck and have fun!

  22. #22
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    All of the above notwithstanding, I believe there are no rules for bicycling in NYC. It's total anarchy. Those guys who filter up at red lights, they are a pet peeve of mine as well; but there's nothing one can do about them. Actually, those guys who stop on the other side of the crosswalk, they are a pet peeve of mine too. Well, sometimes, that is. Sometimes I'm one of them.

  23. #23
    Senior Member will be was's Avatar
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    a commuter advice

    I do commute from NJ via GW Bridge to midtown Manhattan as long as roads are dry, I have been doing it for almost 6 months, avoid avenues at all cost I ride the Green way than either ride on sidewalk or walk my bike across since I'm on 7th avenue' I start my day pretty early so I give myself plenty of time just in case any mishaps and around 7 am there is not much people around 11th and 10th avenues , I have eye witnessed to a near death bike accident on 8th avenue, before that I felt invincible on the bike do to speed I guess, take all the above because they are all experienced riders and read and reread their advice.

  24. #24
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    Don't speed on the Brooklyn Bridge. Way too many clueless tourists and cyclists there. The Greenway is scenic but usually crowded. Always assume that the people in front of you don't know what they're doing, even the ones on pro kits and fancy bikes. And don't cut in front of others at a red light. As others said avoid the Avenues in Manhattan, Flatbush and Atlantic Aves in Brooklyn

    Lots of nice rides in NYC, Prospect Park & Central Park, Riverside Dr from the 70's to GW Bridge has wide roads. Ocean Parkway to Coney Island is nice & you can grab a Nathans hot dog afterwards.

  25. #25
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooKona View Post
    Don't speed on the Brooklyn Bridge. Way too many clueless tourists and cyclists there. The Greenway is scenic but usually crowded. Always assume that the people in front of you don't know what they're doing, even the ones on pro kits and fancy bikes. And don't cut in front of others at a red light. As others said avoid the Avenues in Manhattan, Flatbush and Atlantic Aves in Brooklyn.
    Lots of good riding in Manhattan. The City has been putting in new protected bike lanes on First and Second Avenues. That's in addition to the protected bike lanes on Ninth Ave, Eighth Ave, Broadway and Grand Street, so there's really no reason to completely avoid avenues. Best bet is to get a copy of the New York City Cycling Map which is available at most bike shops and cycling events. In addition to routes it's full of helpful information for new cyclists. Then just get out and ride your bike

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