Press Releases

May 3, 2024
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NYC DOT, NYPD, and State Officials Announce Partnership to Expand Motorcyclist Safety and Enforcement Amidst Rising Motorcyclist Fatalities

To combat alarming rise in motorcyclist fatalities since pandemic, NYPD will expand enforcement on NYC roads this spring;

Motorcycle Advisory Council will also offer free practice and training this weekend for motorcyclists

With arrival this week of warmer weather and DMV deadlines, motorcycle riders are reminded of need to be properly licensed and registered

NEW YORK — New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and NYPD Transportation Chief Philip P. Rivera today joined with state government leaders to announce major new efforts to increase motorcyclist safety – including expanded NYPD enforcement, new training programs, and greater public awareness. Since the pandemic in 2020, the rate of crashes involving motorcycles – both nationally and within New York State - has increased, with motorcyclist fatalities in 2023 in New York City reaching record levels, most involving unregistered vehicles and/or unlicensed riders.

Bikers are also reminded that with warmer weather now upon us, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires all Class M motorcycle registrations to have been renewed by May 1. This coming weekend, the New York City Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) will also offer free training for new riders and those seeking to improve their skills.

“While New York City has seen positive trends in traffic fatalities since the end of the pandemic, including record declines in pedestrian deaths, motorcycle-riding fatalities remain elevated and continue to be a serious challenge to public safety,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We are combining the best of Vision Zero education and enforcement by hosting training sessions to provide motorcycle riders with critical safety skills. Safety is our goal – and we are confident this effort can save lives.”

“The importance of personal responsibility with motorcycle ridership can never be overstated,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “It is vital that every time a rider takes to our surface streets and highways, that they understand they are taking charge of their own safety and the safety of everyone else on the roads. Motorcyclists must always wear appropriate safety gear, maintain legal speeds and proper distances, and avoid riding in other motorists’ blind spots. When we support and equip riders with these and other lifesaving tips, all New Yorkers are reminded that public safety is a shared responsibility.”

“Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable people on the road,” said DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Every driver plays a role in motorcycle safety. We ask all drivers to do their part by avoiding distractions, sharing the road, keeping their eyes open for motorcycles and allowing more space between your vehicle and riders. These steps could ultimately save a life.”

“With summer around the corner, we want New Yorkers to enjoy warm weather activities, but most importantly to be safe,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. James McDonald. “I thank our state partners at the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Police Department for their efforts to increase motorcyclist safety and ensure motorcycle operators are certified and registered. These initiatives continue to make the streets safer for riders and pedestrians and save lives.”

Legal Requirements, Deadlines and Free Training: New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires all motorcycle operators to have a valid Class M (motorcycle) license. It is not legal to operate a motorcycle with a Class D (passenger vehicle) license. In addition, all motorcycle registrations expire annually on April 30. While motorcycle registrations can be renewed online up to one year after the registration expires, it is always illegal to ride or drive an unregistered vehicle.

This weekend, on Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the MAC will hold a popular skills practice at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island in collaboration with NYC DOT and the NYPD. This four-hour open practice session in the stadium lot will allow motorcyclists to practice life-saving skills on a closed course and with the support of fellow bikers who champion safe riding practices.

NYPD Enforcement: In 2023, New York City saw 55 motorcyclist fatalities, an all-time high. Of those 55 fatalities, only 13 riders (or 27 percent) had the proper license to operate a motorcycle and only 20 (or 36 percent) of the involved motorcycles were properly registered. Meanwhile, while fatalities have remained stable YTD, motorcyclist injuries have increased 33 percent in 2024, with 728 injuries reported so far compared to 548 during the same span last year.

To keep motorcyclists safe, the NYPD this spring will expand its two-pronged education and enforcement safety plan.

  1. The NYPD Highway District will increase the number of safety-awareness initiatives it conducts, including additional in-person briefings at monthly Precinct Community Council meetings around the five boroughs. Best practices will also be disseminated to NYPD officers at the precinct level, and subsequently offered at academic institutions, civic meetings, and other local events. An informational safety graphic will be shared through the NYPD’s social media accounts, as will photographs from various education and enforcement initiatives. Motorists will also be regularly reminded to look twice for motorcyclists and to change lanes carefully.
  2. Officers will regularly remind riders with whom they interact that anyone operating a motorcycle must always obey the rules of the road – as well as be properly licensed and registered with the state. Riding recklessly, failing to wear proper safety gear, or using improperly maintained machines can subject riders to arrests and summonses, and to having their bikes seized. Highway District personnel also routinely conduct inspections and safety briefings prior to all officially sanctioned and permitted motorcycle rides citywide.

Safety Tips: New York City and New York State also shared the following safety tips for both drivers and bikers. With the improved weather, drivers should expect to see more motorcyclists and give them room, just as they should be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians.

For Drivers:

  • Watch for motorcycles. Be aware of motorcycles sharing our roadways during all seasons, but particularly during the spring and summer months when riding is most popular.
  • Yield to motorcycles. Don't turn quickly in front of an on-coming motorcycle as it may be traveling faster than it appears.
  • Look Twice and Save a Life. Check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes. Also, when negotiating busy intersections, look twice for motorcycles before proceeding safely. Because they are smaller, they may be hard to see.
  • Be a responsible driver. Ensure your vehicle is in safe operating condition and that all safety equipment is properly adjusted. Observe and obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals, and make sure that any items you are hauling are properly secured before driving.
  • Stay focused on the road and your surroundings. Never drive distracted. Don't let cell phones and other activities distract you from your core mission — driving safely.
  • Drive sober. Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs and discourage others from doing so. Impaired driving is an indiscriminate killer with no demographic barriers.

For Motorcyclists:

  • “Protect your melon.” Always wear a DOT-approved helmet and eye protection. 'Novelty Helmets' are not approved and offer little protection to the rider in a crash. In fact, they are illegal to wear on New York roadways.
  • Always wear high quality riding gear. Designed to protect the rider during a fall. This includes over-the-ankle boots, full finger gloves with padding in addition to jackets and pants with armor protection at impact points.
  • Be conspicuous. Wear high visibility vests, garments with reflective features and accessories to boost your visibility to other drivers.
  • Maintain your motorcycle properly. Ensure your lights and horn are working and both mirrors are adjusted. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have legal tread depth. Remember, motorcycles maintain a smaller tire contact patch on the roadway when compared to other vehicles. Good traction is a key component to safe handling and braking in normal and adverse situations.
  • Maintain a high level of awareness. Scan the roadway constantly. If you are tired, take a break and re-energize to boost your concentration.
  • Drive sober. Never ride impaired by alcohol or drugs and discourage other riders from making a bad choice.
  • Turn left with caution. Most crashes between cars and motorcycles involve turning left. If you are preparing to cross traffic or turn left, take a second look to make sure it is safe to proceed.
  • Slow down. Slow down, take your time and maintain control of the motorcycle.
  • Allow adequate space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Use the 'two second' rule as a safety zone.
  • Observe and obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Let other motorists know your intentions. Signal when you turn with your directional lights or hand signals. Also, flashing your brake light periodically before you stop will alert drivers behind you to be cautious!

To learn more about owning a motorcycle, visit DMV’s motorcycle manual web page.

Learn more about New York City’s efforts around Motorcycle Safety.