Urban cycling infrastructure is wonderful. It encourages people to make trips by bicycle getting them outside and exercising. All sorts of people use bike lanes from experienced riders to people brand new to cycling. All are welcome. As such, it’s important to be considerate to those around you. Making smart decisions and being courteous will make everyone feel happier and safer. So here are ten tips for you to be an exemplary good citizen of the bike lane:
1) Signal your intentions
Using hand signals is the best way to communicate with people you are sharing the road with. Indicating when you are turning right or left, and stopping is essential to keeping those around you informed of your intentions.
2) Pass on the left
Commuting speeds between riders can vary quite widely. When you come across a rider going slower than you’d like to travel, pass on the left. Even if there is space on the right, if you come around a rider unexpectedly you could surprise someone or cause a nervous or sketchy moment.
3) Have a bell
Another way to help make those you are sharing the road with are aware of where you are is using a bell. With a bell you can notify cyclists when you are going to come past them, make people opening their car doors aware of your presence, and let pedestrians or drivers aware of where you are.
4) Say hello
Being friendly in life as in all things can change not just your outlook but that of everyone around you. When sharing the bike lane with lots of other people, why not make a little extra effort to be kind and courteous to those you are riding with. Say hello and good morning. It never hurts making a little effort to be social. Even just a nod or a wave when you see someone else commuting is a nice gesture.
5) No shoaling
When a long line of riders are stopped at a red light, don’t jump the queue carrying all your momentum with you past everyone. This is especially true if you are just riding along at a casual pace and after cutting in front of everyone you will just hold others up. Slowing down and stopping isn’t going to inconvenience you one bit. Cutting the line isn’t just rude it can be dangerous if someone wobbles getting going again or doesn’t see you coming with all that glorious momentum.
6) Don’t race
The bike commute isn’t a race. Everyone will go there own speed and if someone races by you, despite your urge to lift your pace to keep up, don’t let your competitive genes spoil the commute. Racing by other commuters can be dangerous with most bike infrastructure not made to accommodate riders blasting by more leisurely commuters at breakneck speeds. Give yourself lots of time when commuting and don’t feel pressure to make it a high-intensity interval workout between lights.
7) Shoulder check before turning
Keeping bike lanes safe isn’t so hard. Being predictable is essential but also being aware of your surroundings is very important. Before you turn whether to pass a rider or to make a turn on a street, check over your shoulder to make sure nobody is coming. If you are turning right on a street around stopped riders, make sure you aren’t cutting them off.
8) No salmoning
Riding the wrong way on one-way streets can be dangerous. Drivers won’t be expecting traffic to be coming towards them while pedestrians crossing won’t necessarily check in the direction traffic shouldn’t be coming. Other cyclists also might get surprised by a rider coming towards them causing a dangerous game of chicken. Salmoning is also illegal in many municipalities.
9) Ride with lights and reflectors
Being seen is important for your own safety and for that of those around you. Cyclists in many places are mandated by law to have reflectors or lights on their bikes. There’s no reason your commuter shouldn’t be outfitted with the gear to keep you visible. Carry your lights with you when you are out so as to never be stuck being hard to see for other cyclists and vehicles.
10) Obey the rules
It should be a no brainer that you obey local road laws while on your bike. Remember, pedestrians have the right of way, stop at red lights and don’t roll through stop signs without slowing down. While sometimes you may be tempted to disregard road laws, think twice because it’s not only illegal but reflects badly on other riders.