Even if you’re related to Miss Manners, please take a moment to read these. You’ll have more enjoyable rides and so will others on the trail.
Don’t be a jerk. Hard as it may be to believe, others actually do have as much a right to be on the trail as you do. Remember, sharing is caring. Follow the rules and everyone will have fun.
Keep your speed under control. It’s fun to go fast, but a bike path isn’t the place for it. Yes, you can crank things up a bit if you have clear sight lines and few other users but, as a general rule, save your sprints for the velodrome.
Ride right, pass left. Act like a car in these situations. Right for travel, left for passing. And, of course, obey all traffic signals.
When passing, don’t expect oncoming bikers to slow down for you. If you don’t have enough room to safely get back to the right lane after passing on the left, don’t do it. Let the oncoming biker(s) come through, then pass.
Don’t pass around blind turns. This seems obvious, but it’s amazing (and terrifying) how many people try to make a move around pedestrians or other bikers when they can’t see what’s coming around a corner.
Slow down—and be prepared to stop—when there are others around. People are unpredictable, kids and pets especially. The truth is, anyone can be so involved in a conversation or wrapped up in their own thoughts that they’ll make a bad choice even if they hear you coming. Slow down and keep your hands on your brakes.
Make some noise well before passing. A bell or a call “on your left, please!” is preferable to a stealth pass. Make noise—be sure you’re heard—well before you reach the person you’re passing.
Don’t wear ear buds. You need to be able to hear bikes coming up behind you, for instance. If you want to listen to music, either affix a speaker to your bike or wear bone conduction headphones that don’t obstruct your hearing.
Don’t stand in the path. Sometimes it’s nice to stop and look around and take a drink. Pull off the path when you do so, otherwise you’ll block the way for everyone else.
Don’t pass others at intersections. If you see another biker waiting at a light, don’t roll up in front of him or her to try to cross first. That’s just obnoxious. Wait in line.
Don’t be a jerk. Did we mention that? You’re representing cyclists as a group, so be considerate of others. Maybe even try smiling or saying hello to pedestrians and other bikers. Wave to thank car drivers who stop at intersections to let you cross. In a nutshell, be friendly and treat people the way you want to be treated.
Wear bright, highly visible clothing, preferably with reflective tape or patches.
Obey the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs and lights.
Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
Ride in control at all times. Proceed at a safe speed that permits you to react quickly to unexpected circumstances.
Yield to pedestrians and other vehicles.
Never ride in low-light or dark conditions without front and rear bike lights and reflectors.
Keep a safe distance between yourself and other riders or vehicles. What qualifies as safe? Enough space to allow you to react to something unexpected. In general, aim for 1 bike length (or more) per each 5 miles per hour you’re traveling. Keep at least 4 feet between you and a vehicle.
Don’t hug the curb too closely. Maintain a comfortable distance from the pavement edge.
Ride in single file. This is required by law in most states. (Note: Some states allow cyclists to travel 2 abreast. Do this only on less-traveled roads that are free of traffic. Riding 3 abreast is usually illegal.)
Don’t ride on sidewalks unless no other safe option exists. Motorists at intersections or when leaving or entering driveways often do not see swift-moving cyclists traveling on sidewalks.
Likewise, watch for cars coming out of alleys. They may not see you.
Don’t pass other cyclists on the right.
When needed, make noise—use a horn, a bell, whistle or just yell.
In heavy, slow-moving traffic, it’s often safer to ride in the middle of a traffic lane so that everyone can see you and cars won’t try to squeeze around you.
On busy streets, don’t swerve back and forth around parked cars or other obstacles. Maintain a straight course and watch out for opening car doors.
Be ready to brake. Keep your hands on or near the brake levers so you can stop quickly.
Pedal strongly when going through intersections.
If 5 or more cars are behind you, pull over and let them pass.
Stay alert to changes in your surroundings at all times.
Communicate your intentions to drivers and other cyclists as much as possible. Use hand signals whenever you turn or stop, but assume that those signals might not be understood by every driver.
Semi-trucks have a blind spot when they turn; avoid riding in the blind spot.
Watch out for things that can add to (or cause) problems between cyclists and automobiles, like bright sunlight, fatigue, darkness and sharp bends in the road.
Avoid actions that can cause accidents between bicycles, such as following too closely, poor communication or lapses in concentration.
Be especially cautious at intersections. Many cycling accidents occur here.
Ride with confidence when you’re in traffic. Timid, wobbly riders make drivers nervous. Cyclists or groups of cyclists who ride in a respectful, self-assured manner are more likely to be granted extra room and respect in return.
Cycling on high-speed roads requires extra caution. Avoid them if you can, but if you must, follow these rules:
Stay as far right as you can, using the paved shoulder whenever possible.
Check behind yourself frequently and listen for approaching cars. To make this easier, wear a helmet-mounted or eyeglass-mounted mirror.
Brace yourself for passing vehicles (especially large trucks or other wide vehicles) by gripping your handlebars firmly, lowering your body to lessen wind resistance and moving as far to the right as possible.
Keep in mind that the wind from passing vehicles tends to “pull” cyclists forward and toward the passing vehicle.
Reminder: Just because you’re on a bike, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be cited for a traffic violation. Follow the rules of the road.
For a group, hand signals are very important. Not only will they provide notice for the riders and motorists with whom you share the road, but group riders often rely on each other for signals concerning actions that need to be taken. The road conditions may change or there could be an obstacle in the road. There are any number of things that a rider in the lead will need to signal to his or her riding buddies about. This can prevent the group from having a pile up.
Here are the most common hand signals you need to know:
The first step in using these signals for safe riding is learning how to perform them and practicing the motions. Most of them are very simple and easy to master.
Left turn: Extend the left arm straight out from the body and point to the left. You should perform this signal at least ten yards prior to the turn.
Right turn: Extend the right arm out straight from the body and point to the right. As with the left turn, you want to make this signal at least ten yards before the intended turn. This signal can very amongst groups, as some will follow the California driving laws which have the left arm at a 90 degree angle, pointing up.
Slowing down: If you need to slow down, signal the riders behind you by placing an open hand, palm facing out on your low back. Again, the signal can vary according to California Driving law and instead the left arm is used at a 90 degree angle, pointing down.
Stop: To signal the group of a sudden stop, place your hand behind your back and make a fist.
Draft: To signal the rider behind you that you want them to draft, pat your butt on the side that wish them to draft.
Single road hazard: For a single road hazard, the rider should signal by pointing to the hazard with one finger.
Debris/loose gravel: Point the hand open palm down at the gravel or debris and make a shaking motion with the hand.
Hazard on shoulder: Put your arm out straight from the body with an open palm facing the side of the road that the hazard is on, then move the hand to the slow down signal.
Pull through: Use this signal to let the riders behind you know that you intend to drift back into the pack. With your hands still on the handlebars, make a swiping motion with the elbow on the side in which you intend to drop back.