Rules of the road for biking season

Transportation Services March 22, 2022

As the weather in Ithaca turns from cold and snowy to lovely and green, it's time to get your bike out of storage and prepare to see more cyclists on campus! Biking is a great way to experience Ithaca’s beauty, get some exercise, and help reduce congestion, and cyclists should be aware of the rules and etiquette for riding on campus.

Bicycles have the same rights to the road as other vehicles.  That means that by law, since a bicycle is a vehicle, bicycle riders are responsible for following the same laws as drivers of other vehicles. No matter what vehicle you are operating, human powered or motorized, here are some of the things to keep in mind required by law:

  • Stop at stop signs and red lights.

  • Yield to pedestrians, especially at crosswalks.

  • Signal turns.

  • Bicycles, like other vehicles, belong on streets not on sidewalks.

  • Infographic with biking safety rules. Rules in text on this page.
    Remember these few simple rules to keep yourself and others safe on the road. Have fun, and stay safe!

    If you’re more than fourteen years old, wearing a properly adjusted helmet is not required but is highly recommended.

Campus Rules

  • On campus, bicycles must be parked at bike racks. Bicycles locked to ramps, railings, trees, sign or light posts may be impounded.

  • Riding on Botanic Garden paths is prohibited. (If it’s not paved, don’t ride on it.)

  • When we share the road, we can encourage multi-modal transportation, and make it easier for everyone in our community to use more alternative transportation. 

Safety Guidelines & Your Rights

This infosheet by the New York Bicycling Coalition can help you review your rights and rule on the road in New York State.

Electric Bicycles

If you bring an electric bike to campus, be aware that there are some tricky laws in place around e-bikes in New York State. Although buying, selling or renting an e-bike is legal, operating an e-bike on streets open for public use is NOT currently legal in New York State.

Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, unicycles and other mobility devices that are not propelled entirely by human power are defined in law as motor vehicles. When riding these powered mobility devices on streets, you may be at risk of a traffic citation for operating an unregistered motor vehicle. Until the New York State legislature passes a bill to legalize e-bikes for road use, a conflict with another vehicle or a pedestrian could subject you to significant penalties, whether or not you are at fault.

Keep the rules above in mind when you ride. If you are seen blowing past stop signs, riding on sidewalks, zipping through crossing pedestrians or weaving through traffic, you are very likely to attract regulatory attention. If you consistently ride lawfully, safely and respectfully, you may be able to ride an e-bike without inviting restrictive attention.

Links to more information:

For questions about biking on campus, contact Transportation Services.