Bike Safety - street rules

Share the Road

There are certainly risks to riding alongside cars however, they are manageable if you're careful and bike intelligently. In fact, many city cyclists choose to join the flow of traffic by commuting to work on their bikes rather than driving. They have a healthy respect for cars and they know how to behave and remain safe. The best way to educate motorists on bicyclists' rights to the road is to ride respectfully and have facts on your side.  Use the following rules to be a more responsible and safe rider.

Basic Rules of the Road 

  • The same laws that apply to motorists also apply to cyclistsBe safe when you ride!Always ride with traffic, never against it. It's a common mistake for new cyclists to think they should travel facing traffic. But it's pedestrians who are advised to do this, not cyclists. If you try it on your bike, you stand a strong chance of an accident because motorists expect you to behave like a vehicle. Consequently, they don't look for you and may not see you until it's too late. For example, if the driver is entering the roadway from a driveway and turning right, he'll check to the left to see if it's safe because that's where cars should be coming from. He'll only look right long enough to confirm that it's clear of pedestrians, and you're moving much faster.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals
  • Use hand signals to indicate stops and turns to other users
  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet, no matter how short the trip
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic
  • Ride Predictably and in a straight line.
  • Don't swerve in the road or between stopped cars
  • Be Visible by wearing brightly colored clothing that provides contrast
  • In lower light conditions, use lights and reflective gear to stand out
  • Announce yourself by making eye contact with motorists

If you ever drive a motorized vehicle, you might want to check out share the road rules for motorists.

How to Ride in Bike Lanes

  1. Safety considerations
    • Bikes are not required to travel in bike lanes when preparing for turns
    • Never ride within three feet of parked cars; beware of the door zone
    • Avoid bike lanes that you think are poorly designed or unsafe; alert your local government
  2. Intersections
    • Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turn lane
    • Bike lanes should stop before an intersection to allow for bikes to make left turns
    • Always signal as you move out of a bike lane into another traffic lane
  3. Debris
    • Report obstructions and poor maintenance to your local government
    • Avoid riding immediately adjacent to curbs where trash collects
    • If debris forces you out of the bike lane, signal your move out into traffic
  4. Parked cars
    • Never ride within three feet of parked cars
    • Watch for brake lights, front wheels, signals and driver movements
    • Position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist pulling out of a parking space
  5. Right turns
    • Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turning motorist
    • Move out of the right turn lane if you are not turning right
    • Ride in the rightmost lane that goes in the direction that you are travelling
  6. Left turns
    • Move out of the bike lane well in advance of the intersection; signal every move
    • Position yourself in the right most left-turning lane
    • Reposition yourself after executing the turn; remain clear of parked cars

Surviving a Thunderstorm

A PREPAREDNESS GUIDE for severe weather is published by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service. The following is the League of American Bicyclists' adaptation of that guide to specifically address cyclist concerns. The National Weather Service has reviewed and approved this adaptation.

In general . . .

  • Cyclists on the road are most at risk from thunderstorms if they are under or near tall trees, are on or near hilltops, or are themselves high points on flat terrain (such as crossing an open field).
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Look for safe shelter immediately!
  • When skies darken, look AND listen for increasing wind, flashes of lightning, sound of thunder
  • Lightning remains a danger even when a thunderstorm is dissipating or has passed by.

When thunderstorms approach . . .

  • If you are on a hill with exposure to the sky, try to head downhill, seeking out an overhanging bluff or a valley or ravine where you can lower your exposure.
  • Move to a sturdy building or shelter if there is one within reach (such as an underpass, a large barn, a store or railroad station). Do not take shelter in small sheds or under isolated trees.
  • However, get to higher ground if flash flooding is possible where you are (such as by a creek bed).

If caught outdoors and no shelter is nearby . . .

  • Find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees. (Lightning is more likely to strike the tallest trees.)
  • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, dismount fast, get away from your bike, and squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible, and minimize your contact with the ground.

These tips are courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists. Much more can be found on their web site. Check them out! 


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