VTL 1122-a Overtaking a Bicycle

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.

Not to be confused with VTL 1122(a), which concerns overtaking a vehicle.

The exact wording of the statute is as follows:

The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.

Everyone except bicyclists understand that bicyclists are the most annoying people on earth. In addition to being hazardous and generally disrespectful of the rules of the road, bicyclists will pedal in the middle of said road as if they were operating vehicles. This usually leads to a buildup of traffic since most bicyclists cannot reach the same level of speed as vehicles. If you have been trapped behind a bicyclist, or as is popular, a whole troop of them, you know firsthand the frustration that comes along with a line full of cars crawling behind them.

However, bicyclists are people too. The legislature, seeking to minimize accidents, has codified a section of the VTL to ensure their protection. VTL 1122-a mandates that the operator of a vehicle overtaking (from behind) a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof. Any vehicle wishing to pass a bicyclist must allow for enough distance between them and the bike when beginning to pass. They must also monitor their speed while passing so that it is reasonable and prudent. In no circumstance should any motorist quickly cut in front of the bicyclist after completing the pass.

Failure to abide by VTL 1122-a will result in three points on your license, as well as fines, surcharges, and possible driver assessment fees. Perhaps more importantly, it will likely cause increases in insurance rates.

While the frustration is understandable, the action of unsafely overtaking a bicyclist is not. You should always let cooler heads prevail should you find yourself behind one. However, if you’ve received a ticket for this offense, it is advisable to contact an attorney today. Experienced traffic attorneys will take advantage of every legal remedy to reduce the points and later consequences of any ticket, even a VTL 1122-a. Your attorney can also go to court in your place.

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