Some general rules of the road for cyclists to help you ride safely and comfortably on public roads.
As more motorists and more cyclists try and compete for the ever-decreasing space on roads throughout the country, never has it been more important to know how to ride safely and within the law.
The best thing to keep in mind is that in most states cyclists are supposed to follow the same traffic laws as motorized vehicles. Many people consider cyclist to be pedestrians and believe they should ride on the sidewalk or against traffic, which is even more dangerous than riding with traffic. Most municipalities even have laws against riding on the sidewalk or against traffic although they are rarely enforced.
Since bicycles have the same laws of the road cyclists should make an effort to stop at traffic lights and stop signs especially in busy areas, and to also signal their intentions. While most people know the basic hand signals, most of them were designed for people sitting in the driver’s seat of the car. It is perfectly acceptable to point right to go right, left to go left. For stopping you can still use the left hand pointed diagonally down towards the ground with the palm out as your signal.
Make a point to try and not pass cars that have already passed you. When you come up to a stoplight or a stop sign don’t fly up their right side (or left for the daring) and wait for the light to change. Then all of these motorists have to re-pass you again; it’s not so much a rule of safety as it is just being a good steward.
Ride so you can allow traffic to pass you with the least problem. Riding alone isn’t really a problem, but riding with a group can be. Groups of bicycles are supposed to ride no more than two abreast. The law does allow for this in most states but it shouldn’t be the holy writ as a right to ride and block traffic. Sometimes riding two abreast is better than riding single file because it is easier to pass a large group because it is more compact than passing a group single file.
In a small group though this may not make any sense as riding two abreast only impedes traffic, not facilitate it. You can however ride far enough to the right that you are comfortable from worrying about running off the road or potholes that lurk in the gutters. This can also make it safer for a motorist unbeknownst to them. By riding a comfortable distance to the right, you are also making sure that they don’t try and “squeeze” you by passing when there isn’t space or a car is coming in the other direction at the same time. Don’t hold them up however; when it’s safe for them to pass allow them to do so.
When riding out on the road, just be predictable. Don’t ride like a little kid with nowhere to go, ride with purpose and ride with awareness. Prepare for a turn or a lane change and plan ahead by scanning traffic behind you. Don’t dart into a turn lane to allow traffic to pass and then back out into the road. A motorist has no idea what exactly you are doing and could hit you by accident.
It’s also a good idea to be courteous and friendly – for example, when someone passes you with care, wave at him or her as they look in their rear view mirror. Try to refrain from any gestures or harsh words, they may make you feel better for cussing out a rude driver, but what happens to the next rider those people see a few miles down the road, what you do can affect the motorists attitude towards them as well.
Some other things you can do to make riding on the road safer to you include the following:
-Always wear a helmet.
-Carry a cell phone with you or try to avoid riding alone if possible.
-Try and wear brightly colored clothing
-Beware of parked cars — Watch for drivers opening doors or pulling into the traffic lane.
-When riding in a group, make sure to call or point out road hazards, such as potholes.
-When weather changes, so do road conditions: oil bubbles to the surface in the first few minutes of a rainstorm making them extremely slick. Ride cautiously during this time.