Riding Tips

Riding a bike in New York City has never been better. With more than 700 miles of bike lanes citywide, including parks, greenways and on-street facilities, cycling in New York is more convenient and popular than ever. Whether you’re an experienced bike rider or new to city cycling, a few simple steps will make you feel more comfortable and confident riding in an urban environment.

Follow the Rules

In NYC, cyclists must:

  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Stay off the sidewalk
  • Obey traffic lights
  • Ride with traffic

You must be at least 16 years old to ride Citi Bike.
Bicycles are defined as vehicles under New York State law. That means cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all of the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.

Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where they're going.

Bicycle riders should use available bike lanes or paths whenever possible, except when making turns or if hazardous conditions make it unsafe to continue in the bike lane or path.

For more information on NYC bicycle laws, check out NYC DOT’s Bike Smart guide or download a complete list of NYC bicycle laws, rules and regulations.

Citi Bike encourages you to wear a helmet and never ever text while riding!

Plan a Sensible Route

New York City’s streets and parks offer a wide variety of bicycle lanes and paths, from shared traffic lanes to car-free greenways. Choosing a route that suits your skill and comfort levels has a significant impact on how confident you feel on two wheels.
There are many ways to plot a route that makes sense for you:

NYC Cycling Map - Download the NYC Cycling Map, published annually by NYC DOT, for a detailed look at bike lanes throughout the five boroughs. Call 311 or visit any bike shop in NYC for your own free paper copy.

Citi Bike App - The official Citi Bike app is the perfect copilot for your biking adventures around the city. Featuring a full-station map, up-to-date bike and space availability for each station, search and routing functionality and much more, it is available to download in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

Ride the City - Ride the City offers an interactive route planning service for New York City bicyclists, which allows you to save locations and routes if you create a (free) profile.

Do a Pre-Ride Check

NYC Bike Share maintains every bike to help ensure they are in good condition and working properly. It’s always a good idea to give the bike a look over before starting a ride.
If a bike isn’t working properly, lock it back into any Citi Bike dock, press the wrench button on the dock and unlock a different bike.

Check the following before you set off:

Seat Height - Citi Bike seats are easily adjustable. Just release the clamp on the side of the seat post, raise or lower the seat to your preferred height and re-tighten the clamp. Make sure the clamp is tight and the seat can’t twist or sink. Typically a seat is at the right height when you can almost fully straighten your legs when pedaling.

Air - Push each tire hard against a curb or the ground. If you can flatten it, it needs air.

Wheel Spin - Lift each wheel up and give it a slow spin (spin the back wheel forward so the pedals don’t move). Check that the wheel spins freely and doesn’t rub against the brake pads or anything else.

Tires - Turn each wheel slowly and look for cuts, bulges or bubbles in the tire.

Brakes - Squeeze both brake levers to check that brakes are functional and feel strong.

Be Predictable

The more predictably you ride, the safer you are.

  • Don't weave in and out of traffic.
  • Use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where you're going.
  • Ride about four feet away from parked cars, avoiding "the door zone."
  • Don't ride distracted. It is illegal to ride with both headphones on. And never text and bike.
  • Use your bell to alert drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence.

Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when marking turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane.

Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout New York City, even when no designated route exists.

Wear a Helmet

Citi Bike encourages you to wear a helmet when you ride. Doing so dramatically reduces the risk of head injury in the event of a crash while bicycling. (In New York City, children 13 and under and working cyclists are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet.)
Always buckle the chin strap, and replace your helmet after any crash or whenever you see signs of damage.

Your helmet will look and feel better (and will be more effective) if it’s adjusted properly.
1. Wear it level on your head, about two finger-widths above your eyebrows.
2. Make sure the straps are snug. Only about two fingers should fit beneath the chin strap.
3. Your helmet should fit snugly on your head and not rock side-to-side. Use the foam pads that came with the helmet or the internal adjustor to fine-tune.

Need a helmet? Here are two ways to get your own:

  • Buy a helmet from a local bike shop or helmet retailer. Visit our Resources page to view a list of NYC bike shops. Along with their Citi Bike key, every Annual Member receives a coupon good for $10 off one helmet at any bike shop in NYC.
  • Receive a free helmet and fitting from the Department of Transportation. NYC DOT fits and gives away the official New York City bicycle helmet at events throughout the city. Call 311 or visit the DOT Web site to find a list of upcoming events.

Bike Smart

Want to talk to an expert about urban bike riding? In cooperation with Bike New York, Citi Bike will offer free and convenient classes on city cycling called Citi Bike Street Skills. Each attendee will leave with a complimentary 24-Hour Pass to try out the Citi Bike system. Visit bikenewyork.org for more information and to find an upcoming class.

Bike Smart: The Official Guide to Cycling in New York City, is a helpful handbook with information on making your cycling safer and easier, including tips on using newer bike facilities such as protected lanes and bike boxes.