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Traffic Safety

Every day over 10,000 motorists, hundreds of buses, dozens of construction vehicles, thousands of cyclists, and 30,000 pedestrians, in-line skaters, skateboarders and other wheeled vehicles converge on our campus. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in traffic and pedestrian congestion on campus due, in part, to efforts toward alternative personal transportation, and many construction projects that generate road closings. There have been several efforts in increase safety on campus such as:

  • Signage and barrels with “State law. Stop for pedestrians in crosswalk” at key locations around campus and installation of bright yellow fluorescent crosswalk signs to alert motorists and cyclists that they are approaching a crosswalk.
  • Managed State and national campaigns by the Cornell Police to combat aggressive driving, enforce state seat-belt and cell phone laws, and actively patrol for impaired drivers.
  • Cycling skills and safety courses offered to cyclists over age 14 to improve skills for casual or commuting cyclists.

Your awareness of your rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist is very important.

For your own safety and that of others, please familiarize yourself with all local and state vehicle and traffic regulations including Cornell Transportation’s rules and regulations for control of traffic and parking: Rules and Regulations, and adhere to the following tips:


  • Drive at safe speeds on campus
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
  • Yield the right of way to cyclists.
  • Be alert for people acting unpredictably, crossing at non-crosswalk locations.
  • Pay particular attention when approaching buses unloading passengers; pedestrians often cross in front of the bus, particularly at a crosswalk.


  • Cross at a marked crosswalk or intersection; if you are not in a crosswalk, vehicles have the right of way.
  • Be sure vehicles have time to yield before you step into a crosswalk.
  • Make eye contact with motorists to be sure they know you intend to cross.
  • If there are no sidewalks along a roadway, state law requires that you walk in the direction facing traffic, as far left as practical.
  • Although you may have the right of way, ultimately your life may depend on you being alert and erring on the side of safety.
  • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing if you must walk along the roadway for any length of time.

Cyclists and In-line Skaters

  • Bicycles and in-line skaters are allowed anywhere motor vehicle travel is permitted. The same rules of the road that apply to motorists apply to these modes of transportation.
  • Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Observe university cycling and in in-line skating regulations.
  • Travel in the street or on paths clearly marked (with white symbols) as bike lanes. When you travel on a shared path, ride slowly, yielding the right of way to pedestrians. If a sidewalk or path is indicated as a dismount area or not marked at all, you must dismount.
  • When traveling in hours of darkness, a head and taillight are required by law. Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, both day and night.
  • It is illegal to wear more than one earphone attached to an audio device while riding

Skateboards, Scooters and wheeled vehicles other than bicycles

  • Skateboarders and scooters are regulated by New York State traffic laws and are allowed on roadways when obeying the law.
  • Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Reflective clothing must be worn when riding during the hours between sunset and sunrise.
  • Tricks and stunts are prohibited on university property.
  • Skateboards and scooters are not permitted on ramps, stairs, handrails, or inside buildings
  • It is illegal to wear more than one earphone attached to an audio device while riding.

Distracted Driving, Talking and Texting

New York prohibits all drivers from using portable electronic devices. Illegal activity includes holding a portable electronic device and:

  • Talking on a handheld mobile telephone
  • Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • Playing games

The law defines the following terms as:

a) “Portable electronic device” shall mean any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.
b) “Using” shall mean holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.

Buckle Up NY – Seat Belts/Restraint Systems and Airbags

New York State Safety Belt Law

  • All motor vehicle front seat occupants regardless of age must use appropriate restraints.  The driver is responsible for all front seat passengers under age 16.
  • All rear seat passengers under age 16 must use appropriate restraints.
  • All children under 4 years old must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat.
  • Children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7 must be properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint system, one that meets the child’s height and weight recommendations according to the child restraint manufacturer. The vehicles safety belt is NOT a child restraint system.