What Are Vulnerable Road User Laws?

New York is one of a growing number of states that have enacted vulnerable road user laws. They offer enhanced legal protections for pedestrians and bicyclists who use the same streets and pathways as motorized vehicles. In addition, these laws create stiffer penalties for motorists that injure them.

The personal injury attorneys at Douglas and London in Manhattan applaud the efforts of state legislatures to make roadways safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

What added protections are provided by New York’s Vulnerable Road User Laws?

The State enacted Section 1146 of its Vehicle and Traffic Laws in 2015 to impose enhanced penalties on motorists whose negligence leads to bicyclist or pedestrian injuries. For a first offense, a convicted driver can be penalized with fines up to $750 or 15 days of confinement and be ordered to participate in safe driving classes. The driver’s license can also be revoked or suspended. A second offense can include misdemeanor criminal charges.

Charges under the State’s Vulnerable Road User Laws are in addition to those that a negligent driver can face under the city’s administrative code.

Have there been fewer bicycle accidents after the Vulnerable User Laws were enacted?

There were more than 18,000 bicycle accidents in 2018 and 2019. That annual number dropped to 12,400 in 2020, but much of that reduction is attributed to the COVID-19 lockdown. Since at least 2015, the amount of bicycle traffic has increased dramatically. While bicycle accidents and fatalities continue to occur, the streets are becoming safer for cyclists. At least a portion of that safety increase might be attributable to Vulnerable User Laws.

Do Vulnerable User Laws help injured bicyclists recover damages for bicycle accident injuries?

Vulnerable User Laws allow the police to issue citations against negligent drivers who injure bicyclists. An NYC bicycle accident lawyer can use those citations as evidence of their negligence in a bicycle accident lawsuit. That lawyer would need to prove all the standard elements of an accident and injury claim. This would include a causal connection between a driver’s negligence and a bicyclist’s injuries. A citation for violating Vulnerable Use Laws, however, is strong evidence of negligence.

How can NYC bicyclists reduce their vulnerability to accidents and recover damages?

Bicyclists are obligated to follow all the rules that apply to motor vehicles. These include stopping at red lights and stop signs, riding in the correct direction on one-way streets, and riding in designated bike lanes. When an accident does occur, a negligent motorist might argue that the bike rider was also negligent if they were not following traffic laws.

Bicyclists who are injured in collisions with cars should be prepared to discuss everything about the collision with their New York personal injury lawyer, including:

  • The clothing and safety equipment that the bicyclist was wearing
  • Whether the bicyclist had used drugs or alcohol before riding on city streets
  • If the bicyclist was using headphones or other devices that distracted them
  • Whether the bike rider was crossing traffic lanes or riding in areas that were off-limits
  • If the rider’s bike was maintained properly and kept in good working condition

Call Douglas and London in Manhattan for More Information and a Free Consultation

The bicycle accident lawyers at Douglas and London represent cyclists in NYC to recover damages from negligent motorists. In addition, we strongly support the city’s bike riding community and encourage the development and adoption of statutes and ordinances, including Vulnerable Road User Laws.

Please see our website or contact our Manhattan offices to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced bicycle accident attorney about recovering damages from the driver who caused your injuries.