I don't know if every biker does this, but I have my own set of personal rules for how I choose to bike in the city. Since New York City bikers tend to play light and loose with traffic regulations, it can be tempting to think that we have no regard for the laws or the welfare of others. This has not been my experience with the other bikers that I know. We just have a different set of rules that only loosely correspond to city ordinances.
That said, here are own personal rules for biking in the city:
- Don't Ride on the Sidewalk: There's no safe way to do this that doesn't endanger pedestrians and just annoys the crap out of a lot of people. Does not include rolling a few feet from the curb to the storefront or door I am headed toward.
- Don't Ride against Traffic: This is dangerous for yourself and others, and inconsiderate to other bikers who are coming the other way. (Okay, I'll bend this one for small stretches of one-way side streets. But never on the avenues or major streets.)
- Keep to the Curb: Riding in between lanes of traffic makes it hard for cars to anticipate your presence, and thus puts yourself in danger.
- Don't Race Yellow Lights: Like all New Yorkers, I am constantly in a hurry. Still, intersections are some of the most dangerous areas for bikers. Racing through a yellow is asking for trouble.
- Don't Stop in the Crosswalk: While waiting for a light to change, I wait either behind or more typically in front of the crosswalk, never in it. That's just douche-y.
I find these rules make my own ride more pleasant, keep people around me safer, and would make the city that much better if others followed suit. And they add at most an additional couple of minutes to my daily commute from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan.
UPDATE 4/20/09: Finally found the NY Times article with Robert Sullivan's personal biking rules. I totally agree with his.