According to the New York City Motorcycle Safety Study, the rate of fatal motorcycle accidents in the five boroughs is twice the rate in the rest of New York state. Traffic congestion, alcohol use and lack of proper licensing contribute to this increase in catastrophic collisions affecting motorcyclists.

In addition, motorcycle accidents are more frequent in the summer. Protect yourself by reviewing the city’s safety regulations before you ride.

Motorcycle licensing

The state requires motorcycle riders to have either a learner’s permit or Class MJ/M license. Riders with a permit must practice with supervision from a licensed motorcyclist who remains no more than one-quarter mile away from the rider-in-training. He or she will be eligible for a motorcycle license after 30 documented practice hours and passing the road test.

Helmet use

New York requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet that adheres to the Department of Transportation safety requirements. They must also use eye protection that meets the American National Standard Institute safety guidelines.

Gear and equipment

Riders must use their headlights day and night when operating the motorcycle. They may only transport a passenger if the bike has both a seat and footrest for the extra person. Those who use a bike speaker may use only one earphone while riding.

All bikes must have:

  • One or more red rear reflector
  • A muffler
  • License plate lamp, stop lamp, taillight and headlight
  • Handlebars at shoulder height
  • Brakes on one wheel for bikes made in 1970 or earlier and both wheels for newer bikes
  • One or more rearview mirrors
  • Turn and directional signals for motorcycles made in 1986 or later
  • Warning device such as a horn

Bike operation

Motorcyclists may ride two abreast in a single lane of traffic. However, traveling between two lanes of traffic on a motorcycle, or lane splitting, is illegal. Doing so increases the risk for an accident when a driver changes lanes because the biker travels into the motorist’s blind spot.

Following these laws can reduce your risk for a serious motorcycle accident injury.