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With bicycles back in traffic, test your bike law knowledge

The following is the fifth in a series of columns by Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, regarding news of a legal nature that readers might find timely in this ever-changing world.

By Jim Reed
Managing partner
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira

Now that spring has really arrived, bicyclists will be testing our potholed roads.

As an avid bicyclist and experienced bike accident lawyer, I can tell you it takes a while for motorists to get used to sharing the road again. We have been mostly off the roads the last five or six months, so it takes a while for drivers to be patient, vigilant, and careful again around bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

Remember to share the road safely as you zig-zag around the craters in our streets after a loooong and cold winter.

New York State does have laws for bicyclists. Most people aren't aware of that. They see some bicyclists riding on sidewalks or zooming through red lights and they assume they are free to do as they please.

But motorists and bicyclists both have laws in New York. I have written a primer on bicycle laws that I have shared with town and village magistrates in the past. Please email me at if you would like it as well to learn more.

But for now, let's test your knowledge of bicycle law, and to make it interesting and fun, send me your answers to the questions below by email to and I will enter you in a drawing for a $50 gift card from Nickel's Pit BBQ in Watkins Glen. Be sure to include your name and address in the email so I can let you know if you won.

The winner (and the answers!) will be announced on our law firm's Facebook page during the week of April 30 and in my next Odessa File column in a few weeks.

The deadline for email entries is Friday, April 27.

Test your knowledge:

1. Bicyclists are required to have front and rear lights if they are riding at night. True or false?

2. May bicyclists legally ride side by side? Select one.
a. No.
b. Yes, but not when passing parked cars, other bicycles or pedestrians.
c. Yes, motorists must make room for them at all times.

3. Is it legal to ride with earphones? Select one.
a. No earphones are allowed.
b. Two earphones are legal.
c. One earphone is legal.

4. Fill in the blank: Children under ___ years old must wear a helmet.

5. What is the state's required safe passing distance when motorists pass bicyclists on the same side of the road?
a. At least 10 feet.
b. There is no specific distance listed.
c. At least eight feet.

Remember -- send your answers and your mailing address to by April 27 to enter the drawing for the $50 gift card to Nickel's Pit BBQ.

Thanks for reading and participating!



To see Jim Reed's first column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's second column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's third column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's fourth column, click here.

© The Odessa File 2018
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869