Motorcycle Safety

Safety Tips

8 motorcycle skills to practice all the time:

  • Normal stops using the front and rear brakes together
  • Quick stops ending with the handle bars facing forward
  • Tight slow right and left turns
  • Riding at a walking pace to improve clutch and throttle control
  • Using brakes progressively in a turn before stopping smoothly with handle bars facing forward
  • Swerving quickly to avoid an obstacle
  • Looking ahead through all turns
  • Using lines in a parking lot – weaving around lines spaced close and wide

Protect your brain:

  • Get a quality helmet which has passed U.S. DOT testing standards.
  • We recommend a full-faced helmet, which protects your eyes, jaw, and teeth. Because you’ll probably need those things for a long time.
  • Even the smallest of falls can cause injury.
A man smiles holding a motorcycle helmet. Text overlay reads Protect your brain! A quality helmet can help protect you from injury and keep you riding all season long.

How to avoid crashing in a turn:

  • Enter turns slower
  • Know your surface and look for debris or fluid
  • Keep your eyes in the direction you are going
  • Don’t get caught out staring at curbs, guard rails, and other things on the road
  • Smoothly add power when your exit is clear as you ride out
The view over a motorcycle’s handlebars as the driving turns left around a curved roadway. Text overlay reads When life throws you a curve… lean into it. Remember: the bike goes where you look.

Resources for Riders

Street safety tips for motorcyclists New York State Motorcycle Safety Program NYS DMV motorcycle license information

Audio described version of this video available

Advice from Riders

Feeling called by the open road and the wind in your face? Thinking about trying out a moped or buying your own ride? Whether you’re newly interested in motorcycles or have been riding dirty for years, take some advice from folks who know the importance of training and riding legal.

A woman holding a helmet stands beside a motorcycle, parked on a road closed to traffic.

"The basic reason that you should get trained is for defensive riding techniques. You can have the best skills in the world, but if someone else does something aggressive against you, you need a way out. You need to know how to avoid a crash. You need to know how to emergency brake. That's what they teach in the riders safety classes. I hadn't taken the class and I developed some bad habits. Right after I got my 'M' endorsement, a car did something aggressive and I had to use one of the techniques that I was taught two days prior. If I hadn't learned that technique, the outcome may have been different. I think that everyone who wants to get on a motorcycle needs to understand how the bike functions. You have to understand defensive riding because there's a lot of people out there that don't want to share the road with motorcyclists or anyone else for that matter." – Phyllis

A man wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"You don't want to be out here illegal. You don't want the hassle and you want to be safe and straightforward. That way you don't have any problems, you just have a safe ride." –Step

A woman wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.
“Why training? Because it's your life out there on the road. Having all the tools in your toolbox that you get from training classes is what you need. You never know which tool you're going to need in any given situation. You should really check your tires all the time because that's the only thing between you and the road." –Lauren
A woman wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"People become proficient at car driving. They use it often, so they’re practicing every day or several times a day. Motorcycle riding takes even more skill, you use both arms and both feet to ride the vehicle. In the northeast we tend to ride only when weather is mild, and the culture in the United States is mostly social riding as opposed to utilitarian riding, like commuting, for errands, etc. People will buy the biggest and baddest bike, only take it out twice a month, and believe they're going to be proficient on that vehicle. And it's huge. It might be 800 pounds and you get out on that vehicle with no protection. We don't have crumple zones and airbags that pop out if we make an error. Motorcycling is something that requires a passion to practice it, to become proficient.

"Most people don't realize that a motorcycle is quite an investment. You need to purchase motorcycle specific clothing. If you have a crash, gear might not necessarily keep you from breaking bones, but may spare some of your skin. A good helmet may cost over five hundred dollars, and people will get very large, beautifully painted and decorated motorcycles and get a cheap helmet that can be damaged with a fall at 10 miles per hour. Motorcycling is an investment in practice time. It's an investment in gear. It's what we call serious fun. You need to be mindful of the dangers of motorcycling, but also have fun while doing it." –Sandra

A woman wearing motorcycle gear stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic. Her helmet is resting on the motorcycles seat.

"Training is important for beginners and for experienced riders. For beginners, you want a professional to teach you how to do it, from start to finish or you'll get into bad habits. And as they say, practice makes permanent. I take classes even though I have been an instructor because I don't know where I've maybe gotten a little sloppy. I can't see myself and I want a professional to watch me. I've been riding since 1981, so I've been riding 39 years and I could use instruction for a lot of reasons. Ongoing training is super important because my life depends on it, and I also like to be good at what I do." –Cheryl

A person wearing motorcycle gearing including a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

“Get trained, that way when you get out here you know what you're doing. They teach you different techniques that you wouldn't have known of. It saves lives – it could save your life. Training is good for everybody to take, and the more courses, the better." –W

A woman wearing motorcycle gear, stands behind a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic. Her helmet is resting on the seat.

“I had a bad fall in 2012. Another driver almost hit me and it was pretty serious. I know how important it is to take riding motorcycles seriously. It’s good to learn how to maneuver. These bikes are big, they're heavy. You have to ride for yourself and look out for the people and cars around you. Some people, they ride during the season, and then they put their bikes down for the winter. They get back on thinking that they're fresh, and they're not. You should always try and learn your skills again and make sure you're always on point when you're riding." –Lena

A man wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"One of the things that people who don't ride, don't always understand about motorcyclists is that motorcycling is not entirely about transportation, it's about joy. It's about a thrilling hobby that someone really enjoys doing, much the same way someone might want to ski. If I were into skiing, and someone told me I could ski to work and home every day, of course I would do that. Riding a motorcycle is incredibly thrilling and incredibly fun and invigorating. And what a great way to see New York City.

"The biggest reason to get trained is because motorcycling is a sporting activity. If you're not getting better and better at it, then you probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place, because it is dangerous. If you're into it, then you should definitely be getting trained because that's how you make yourself safer and honestly how you enjoy riding motorcycles more.

"There’s a lot of reasons to say legal. Obviously, there's the law but there’s a safety argument for legality as well. If you're legal, then you don't have to worry about a whole bunch of things that you would have to worry about if you’re not legal. If you're riding dirty, that means that every single time you see a police car or think you see a police car, you are going to possibly act in a very dangerous way in order to avoid them. Out of all the other reasons why you want to be legal, you should consider the safety aspect of legality." –Jesse

A man wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"It's important to take motorcycles seriously because although they are pleasure to ride, they are a very dangerous piece of equipment. Most people don't take professional riding courses, which is definitely a necessity. Professional means that they've looked at all the ins and outs and know what the scenarios might be. Training could save your life and possibly the life of someone else." –Michael

A man wearing motorcycle gear, stands beside a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic. His helmet rests on the motorcycle.

"A motorcycle is a very fun toy, but a serious toy. It is very important that you learn how to navigate a motorcycle. You have to be more defensive than a normal vehicle because you don't have the protections of a normal vehicle. So we always say that, you have to protect yourself against the cages. Cages, meaning cars, because they are surrounded by metal. It is very important to take a beginners class, and not from your friend, who may not have the correct advice. So go to your local professional school that can offer you the best of lessons to help you – how to turn, how to break, how to avoid certain obstacles in the streets or on the highway". –Guedner

A man wearing motorcycle gear, holding a helmet, leans on a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"It's very important to be trained, because there's so many things happening in this world today with cars and pedestrians and motorcycles. It's very important to know the dos and don'ts, and the ifs and buts. Be prepared and be safer for yourself and for other people. We share the road together." –Elroy

A man wearing motorcycle gear, leans on a motorcycle parked on a street closed to traffic.

"A motorcycle is freedom on the road. It’s one of the best forms of transportation ever. If everyone rode a motorcycle, it would save a lot of congestion. I ride right through the year. It gives me freedom to move around without having to worry about parking. Riding is fun, but it is important to know safety procedures. Safety must be constant in everything you do in life." –Coach

New York City Motorcycle Advisory Council

The New York City Motorcycle Advisory Council is a diverse group of committed motorcyclists. The council convenes regularly with NYC DOT to discuss a variety of matters related to safety and sustainable mode use in New York City. The council advocates for policies that support motorcycling, not only as a hobby of passion, but also as a legitimate form of transportation.

Above all, members support educational opportunities and efficient pathways to legality for all motorcycle riders. Working with NYC DOT and other Vision Zero partners, the members raise awareness of motorcycle safety to the driving and riding public at large.

For more information about the New York City Motorcycle Advisory Council, please contact the NYC DOT Office of Safety Education and Outreach at