Bike-riding 101: Two-wheel safety class for newbies amid NYPD crackdown

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Call it cyclist’s ed.

The Police Department is in the middle of a two-week crackdown on bike riders, so we figured we would drop in on a class to teach newbie cyclists the rules of the road at Red Lantern Bike, a combination cafe and bike shop in Fort Greene.

“Rules are there for a reason,” said Dan Suraci, an instructor with the group Bike NY. “They keep the roads predictable.”

Suraci ran the class that instructs neophytes how to use the city’s bike-share program along with basics including signalling, when to stay in a bike lane, and which part of a car lane it’s okay to occupy. The city has done a good job of encouraging cycling with the roll-out of the CitiBike fleet and the expansion of its network of bike routes, but new riders aren’t getting taught how to navigate Brooklyn’s streets, meaning their first trip could be a crash course, Suraci said.

“Education is really the missing piece in general,” he said.

Demand for it is also lacking, if the attendance at a Thursday class is any indication. Only four bike-riders-in-training turned out for the session.

The quartet showed they were serious about safety in more ways than one by forgoing the beer on Red Lantern’s menu.

The overview explained that bikes should be driven as if they were cars, obeying the same laws and rules, including traffic signals. And if they fail to follow the rules, cyclists are subject to the same tickets as motorists, Suraci said.

“According to the law, bikes and cars are exactly the same,” he said. “They have the same rules, rights, and responsibilities. And they’re also subject to the same fines and violations.”

Bikes should travel in designated bike lanes as much as possible, but riders are allowed to leave a bike lane if it is obstructed or unsafe, and when not in a designated lane, bikes are entitled to an entire lane of traffic, Suraci said.

One of the biggest no-nos is riding the wrong way, he said. Bikers call this “salmoning” because it is akin to traveling upstream, he explained.

The Police Department announced last week that officers are cracking down on bicyclists who disobey traffic signals and signs, ride in the wrong direction, ride on the sidewalk, and fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. It also noted that cops will be on the lookout for drivers blocking bike lanes, but as smartphone-wielding commuters documented in the first week of the crackdown, police including Commissioner Bill Bratton are among the offenders.

“The NYPD asks all persons bicycling and driving in the city to make safety a priority,” an NYPD statement says.

Another notice, this one from the department’s Community Affairs office, reminds riders that every bicycle is required to have a white headlight, a red taillight, a bell, and working brakes.

The crackdown is supposed to run through Aug. 26.

Even with the crackdown, one of the bicyclists-in-training said that going two-wheels is the best way to get around Brooklyn, even for beginners.

“I just learned to ride last week,” said Sheepshead Bay resident Anastasiya Matveyenko, a student at Hunter College. “I’m all for it. Bikes are better than cars.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
"The Police Department announced last week that officers are cracking down on bicyclists who disobey traffic signals and signs, ride in the wrong direction, ride on the sidewalk, and fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk." ORLY? The cops I saw yesterday at Grand Army plaza must not have gotten the memo because they didn't bother to get out their cars despite the wild bikers.
Aug. 18, 2014, 7:08 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
If I trusted the NYPD to be familiar with the laws before trying to enforce non-existent laws, there might be some merit in this initiative. Salmoning and riding without lights at night are both dangerous and both annoying. But I have no confidence that the NYPD is up to the task. I expect them to ticket cyclists for things that are legal and to set traps.

My advice is to wait a week to start riding your bike again and then in the next election, ignore StreetsPAC's endorsement since they brought us De Blasio and his disappointing regime.
Aug. 18, 2014, 8:45 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
“The NYPD asks all persons bicycling and driving in the city to make safety a priority,” an NYPD statement says."

WHAT??? They didn't hear you, they have their earbuds in!
Aug. 18, 2014, 1:59 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I've seen two tickets issued to cyclists on 5th Ave in the last 5 days. At the same time, no tickets were issued by the cops on the same stretch of block where delivery vans and lazy drivers were double-parking and blocking bike lanes instead of taking the perfectly available, metered spots right next to them. As such, drivers and cyclists alike are forced to wend around them and into oncoming traffic, a far greater safety hazard than anything a cyclist could possibly do. The cops at the 78th precinct need to be severely spanked. Their new commander needs to be hauled before the hot lights of the press to explain why he thinks it's appropriate to ignore flagrant violations by drivers in 2-ton masses of metal while nickel-and-diming cyclists.
Aug. 18, 2014, 6:37 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Fatimah, it's just false to say rules keep the streets safe. Rules don't keep the streets safe. Forcing drivers off the road keeps the streets safe. Speed cameras keep the streets safe. Anything to make cars slow and predictable keeps the streets safe. And bikes have nothing to do with it.
Aug. 19, 2014, 7 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
But I will allow that if drivers start showing they are capable of following rules and going a day or two without slaughtering someone, we could consider a policy other than deterring driving.
Aug. 19, 2014, 7:04 am
Brad Waters from Old New York says:
Ha! Typical newbies! I'll bet they're hipsters from the mid-west!
Attn: you're all noobs! Just noobs!
Aug. 19, 2014, 8:03 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Studies in L.A., metro N.C. and by the Virgina DoT along with others across the globe show RLC and speed cameras have not reduced accidents. There would be less accidents if drivers, pedestrians and cyclists would exercise a little bit more patience. Drivers see yellow and hit the gas, pedestrians see 2 seconds on the don't walk sign and will try to cross 4 lanes of traffic and cyclists will blow through lights because everyone is in a rush. People also need to pay attention. I've seen drivers texting as much as I've seen pedestrians jaywalking and paying more attention to their phones. If the DoT wanted to save lives instead of raising revenue they need do only one thing; have all red clearance lights at intersections.
Aug. 19, 2014, 9:47 am
bee from yorkville says:
there needs to be a wider and more serious crackdown on rogue cyclists. along with all their self-righteousness about saving the planet these extremists view themselves above the laws of society. it's deflective nonsense to blame the cops or drivers. everyone needs to be responsible for their own part in quelling the chaos of the streets. it's time for everyone to grow up and learn how to play well with others. and if they can't - whether it's the cyclists or drivers - then action needs to be taken against them.
Aug. 19, 2014, 10:41 am
bee from yorkville says:
and, i agree with fatima re licenses for cyclists.

ps - brad waters is quite impressive in his racist and sexist attack. so articulate. so knowledgable. so wordly. it's an honor to read his missives.
Aug. 19, 2014, 11 am
BunnynSunny from Peaceful Clinton Hill says:
That pose looks slightly uncomfortable. I wonder why he's smiling so hard.
Aug. 19, 2014, 12:38 pm
Oliver from Sunset Park says:
Bee, re: the "rogue cyclists", aside from being annoying with their "self righteousness", how much do they actually contribute to unsafe streets?

Or to put it simply...

How many deaths have been caused by these "rogue cyclists"? 1 total in the last 5 years?
How many deaths have been caused by dangerous drivers? At least 1 a day?

Sure, cyclists can be annoying, I get it, you don't like them and view them as "other". But drivers can be dangerous, so let's focus on where the greater danger lies.
Aug. 19, 2014, 1:50 pm
ty from pps says:
there are rules?
Aug. 19, 2014, 8:01 pm
the last word from Brooklyn says:
License and inspect bikes as they do cars. Plates front and back with inspection stickers.

If they are expected to be held to the same standards and rules as motor vehicles, then accountability/visibility is the way to go.

Then, no plates, take it away. Red light cameras, give them a ticket.

An urban environment like NYC calls for licensed & inspected vehicles, whether they are motorized or not, bikes have to be held to the same standards of responsibility, safety and accountability.

Show us your tags!
Aug. 20, 2014, 6:20 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
No, last word, as a cyclist, I do not expect to be held to the same standards and rules as motor vehicles. What ever gave you that idea? Bikes and cars are not the same and it's a mistake for the law to pretend they are.

An urban environment like NYC calls for getting cars off the roads. The end.
Aug. 20, 2014, 10:59 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
An urban environment like NYC calls for getting cars off the roads?

Than it would be the country.
Aug. 20, 2014, 1:15 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The crackdown on rogue cyclists shouldn't be every now and then, it should be constant. A lot of times I see cyclists disobeying traffic lights and signs as well as riding on sidewalks. In the parks, they make it as if it always a Tour de France and almost never slow down for pedestrians. It is true that cyclists don't kill a lot as motorists do, but that doesn't mean that they can still injure pedestrians just as much when they hit them. As a matter of fact, I feel that cyclists should be subject to licensing, insurance, and registration just like every other vehicle that uses the road is especially if they claim that they want to be treated the same way.
Aug. 20, 2014, 6:02 pm
Moishe from 41st Street and 15th Ave. says:
Tal, how are bikes handled in Israel?
Aug. 20, 2014, 7:57 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Because rural areas are so well known for their non-motorized options for getting around....

Or, you are not very bright.
Aug. 21, 2014, 9:20 am
Oliver from Sunset Park says:
I have never heard a cyclist claim to want to be treated "the same" as cars. Every cyclist I have ever heard talk about it wants to be treated like a bicyclist and a legitimate road user, not the same as a car.
Aug. 21, 2014, 5:02 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I would like to set the record straight here. I don't have anything against those that want to ride a bicycle, because I feel that everybody has a choice to what they want to use. However, it's those that feel that having a bicycle places them above the law that I am against. Why should cyclists deserve special treatment when all other users of the road must be subject to the rules at all times? Whatever they want to be called when using the roads, this doesn't excuse them from flouting the laws. I do follow the rules whenever I drive on a normal basis, so I do practice what I preach unlike a lot of you who probably never do. When you guys start following the traffic laws with your bicycles, then you will start having my respect. To quote Confucius, "Respect is something one must earn, not demand." On a side note, quit attacking the person such as myself just for disagreeing, because I find that highly uncalled for, plus if you really want a one-sided view on bicycles that goes your way, then go back to Streetsblog where you can always hear your own voices.
Aug. 21, 2014, 7:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Peter Engel, what I said about Streetsblog is from what I witness when I look at their website. They have a long history of making personal attacks at those that don't agree with them. If there is evidence that Streetsblog does allow different viewpoints, then I would love to hear that, because I never found that the case and those that were from the opposite side were usually censored and banned from being there even when they weren't making any personal attacks at others. I don't have anything against those that want to disagree with me, just those that attack me. BTW, I find you to be in a double standard by calling me an idiot, which is actually attacking the person. Overall, riding a bicycle doesn't make you special, and I'm not saying that I'm special for driving a car, so I'm not acting someone who believes that I'm holier than thou. On a side note, tickets against dangerous drivers has actually gone up according the WNYC, but it's highly unlike that Streetsblog won't mention that, because it won't fit their agenda. Again, it always seems like you know how to dish criticism, but you can't seem to take it.
Aug. 22, 2014, 7:39 pm
paul from queens says:
there is no problem with the rules, it's how the individual officers interpret them. one might allow certain things and others might not.they need to be on the same page.
Aug. 25, 2014, 5:16 pm
Andrew W from Midwood says:
The only thing that annoys motorists more than a cyclist who doesn't follow the rules is a cyclist who follows the rules. I agree with the police's crackdown on unlawful biking, but the police can't ignore the behavior of motorists that drives cyclists to break the law in the first place: Close passing, tailgating, honking, and outright threatening are an everyday occurrence for cyclists who assert their right to use an entire lane.
Aug. 25, 2014, 5:42 pm
Martin from Flatbush says:
He's a Muslim.
Sept. 3, 2014, 11:08 pm

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