Laws Targeting Motorcycles
Motorcycles are generally protected against discriminatory laws designed to target motorcycles. Motorcyclists are entitled to all of the rights applicable to the driver of a car.
There are two laws which protect motorcyclists, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1671 and section 1250.
NYS VTL § 1671 Access of motorcycles
This law prohibits laws from being created that applies only to motorcycles. Additionally, the law prohibits enforcement of laws that apply only to motorcycles. However, there are exceptions as noted in the law below.
§ 1671 states:
“No local authority may enact or enforce a law that applies only to motorcycles and the principal purpose of which is to restrict the access of motorcycles to any highway or portion of a highway under the jurisdiction of any such local authority for which state funds have been utilized for planning, design, construction or maintenance. Provided, however, that nothing contained herein shall be deemed to supersede the authority of any local authority to regulate traffic pursuant to the provisions of this title, or to regulate noise.”
NYS VTL § 1250. Traffic laws apply to persons operating motorcycles
This law states that a motorcyclist has equal rights and equal obligations as drivers of cars and other vehicles.
§ 1250 states:
“Every person operating a motorcycle shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.”
Laws Regulating Operation of Motorcycles on Roadways
Motorcycles operating on a roadway with traffic lanes are governed by NYS VTL § 1252.
Motorcycles Are Entitled to the Full Exclusive Use of a Lane
No vehicle other than another motorcycle is permitted to enter or invade your lane in the space you are occupying. For instance, the driver of a car that changes lanes and sideswipes your motorcycle has violated NYS VTL § 1252 (a).
§ 1252 (a) states, “All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle or motorcycle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. However, this subsection shall not be construed to prevent motorcycles from being operated two abreast in a single lane.”
Riding Abreast in a Single Lane
§ 1252 (a) also states that two motorcycles may operate abreast of each other in a single lane. However, three or more motorcycles are not allowed to ride abreast in a single lane. § 1252 (d) States “Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.”
Lane Splitting — Not permitted in New York
Motorcycles are not allowed to pass other vehicles occupying the same lane.
NYS VTL § 1252 (b) states, “The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.”
NYS VTL § 1252 (c) states, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Read more about lane splitting in New York
§ 1252 Subsections (b) and (c) do not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.
Police Officers injured while in the performance of their official duties can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for the injuries.
We have represented several motorcycle police officers from several departments injured both on the job and on their private motorcycles and a police motorcycle instructor on his private motorcycle.
Crazy Motorcyclists Prohibited
§ 1253. Clinging to other vehicles, states “No person riding upon a motorcycle shall attach himself or the motorcycle to any other vehicle or streetcar on a roadway.” I assume this applies only to moving vehicles (and streetcars if you can find one).
Motorcycle Equipment Required in New York
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
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Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.