Before You Ride: Road Biking

Always check in with bike shops, other sports shops and Chamber of Commerce offices to get the latest information and review your route with someone knowledgeable of the area. When biking dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone. While biking in a rural area the food and lodging services could be few and far between, and cell phone service may not always be available. Let others know about your planned route.

There are many quiet, rural roads in the region; however, bicyclists should remember that motorists on quiet roads may be traveling rapidly, and may or may not have room to swing wide to avoid a cyclist. It is important to ride single file when motorists are approaching – and it is New York State law to do so. Bicyclists may ride two abreast – but no more – when other vehicles are not present.

Most paved road surfaces are in good condition, but not all.  Be aware that cracks and holes can appear at anytime. The pavement on shoulders is sometimes not as smooth as in the main lanes. Be alert when changing your travel lane. Stop at bicycle shops, other sports shops and Chambers to inquire about road conditions up ahead.

Here are a few of the bicycling-related New York State traffic laws:

  • Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle… (section 1231).
  • Upon all roadways, any bicycle shall be driven either on a usable bicycle lane or, if a usable bicycle lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. (section 1234)
  • Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast.  Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride single file when being overtaken by another vehicle. (section 1234)

See the NYSDOT webpage on Bicycling in New York State for more information.

In summary:

  • Bicyclists have the legal right to use all roads in New York State, unless specifically prohibited.
  • Bicyclists legally are required to ride on the right side of the road and in the same direction as motorized traffic, unless road conditions, traffic  or a left-hand turn require movement into the main travel lane.
  • Bicyclists ride no more than two-abreast, and must move to single file when being overtaken.

Remember that we are all motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians at different times of the day and at different times in our lives.  Be respectful of other users.

Also keep these cautions in mind:

  • Be as Visible as Possible – Wear light or bright colored clothing. Have a light if travel after dark is a possibility. NYS State law requires a bell on bicycles, as does Canadian law.
  • Watch the  Weather – Conditions can change quickly so wear or carry proper clothing to protect yourself from the cold, rain and sun.
  • Lodging – Call ahead to book a room or campsite so you are sure to have a place to rest at day’s end.
  • Hydration – Pack adequate water to stay properly hydrated during your trip.
  • Food – Carry a few protein bars or other high energy foods in case the eatery you hoped to try is closed or you grow weary before reaching your destination.
  • Shelter – You may need to seek cover temporarily so watch for possible places to wait out a storm.
  • First aid kit – It is always wise to carry some first aid basics including band aids and antiseptic cream.
  • Cell phones – Be aware your in emergency planning that cell service may be spotty or unavailable in some parts of the region.

The Adirondack region is a beautiful destination because of the care taken to protect the environment.  If you pack items in, pack them out too.

Also see the Disclaimer notice.

Crossing the St. Lawrence River by Bicycle

If you are planning to cross the US–Canada border by bike, bicyclists need to have a passport or an enhanced driver’s license, or the Sentri or the Nexus identification cards – same as all cross-border travelers.

On or near the Great Lakes Seaway Trail there are three locations to cross the St. Lawrence River by bicycle, and it is important to note that one of them is NOT the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge (see below):

  • Massena NY and Cornwall ON – Bicyclists may cross Seaway International Bridge at the Three Nations Crossing near Massena NY and Cornwall ON (RT 138 in Canada).  There is no walkway on the bridge but the traffic lanes are wide, providing room for bicyclists to ride. Exercise extreme caution at several expansion joints, especially when riding down off the bridges. Headquartered in Canada at Cornwall, Ontario, 613-932-6601.
  • Alexander Bay NY and Ivy Lea ON – Bicyclists may cross theThousand Islands Bridge (I-81 in the U.S.) but bicycles must be walked – not ridden – on the bridge sidewalks. Headquartered in the U.S. at Alexandria Bay, 315.482.2501,
  • Cape Vincent NY and Kingston ON – This is an enjoyable crossing of the St. Lawrence for bicyclists because it involves two ferry rides and a bike ride across Wolfe Island, which offers great biking and is very popular among bicyclists on both sides of the border. A map of Wolfe Island route and ride suggestions is provided by the Wolfe Island Business and Tourism Association.
    • From the U.S. side, the ferry leaves from Cape Vincent to Wolfe Island.  The Horne Ferry runs almost every hour between 8:00 am and 7:30 pm, from May 1 to mid-October.  It costs $2.00 for bicyclists and the ride is less than 30 minutes. For more information: 315.783.0638 in the U.S.
    • From Canada, the Wolfe Islander III ferry is in operation all year and operates from Kingston’s Marysville Dock in the summer. The ferry runs each hour from 6:00 am to 1:00 am. The crossing time to Wolfe Island is 20 minutes and is free. For more information, 613.548.7227 in Ontario.
      see additional information on ferry service to Wolfe Island.

The Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge does not allow for bicycle riders to cross on or with their bikes at this time. Walking or riding bikes on the bridge’s sidewalk had been allowed in the past, but was prohibited by 2011 and there are plans to remove the sidewalk to widen the road.