When you head out on the road with your bicycle for the very first time as a commuter bicyclist you’ll be joining many others that “ride a bicycle for transport”. Very quickly you will feel a sense of joy and be smiling big just like the rest of the cyclists you see on your commute. What a wonderful way to start and end the work day with a bike ride! As a new bicycle commuter, you may also see and encounter a couple of things that look unknown.
There are written and unwritten rules of the bicycle culture which help ensure all riders of this street feel protected. Below are a few of the most essential pointers in my opinion that will assist you get started feeling comfortable like you have been a bike commuter for years. They don’t just apply for commuters but really anyone riding bicycling. Above all, always wear your helmet, stay secure, and make some new bike riding friends.
Passing Others On The Road
When you are on your bike you will end up passing virtually every kind of person on anything that you have ever seen on the road before. Cars, people walking, other biker riders, wheelchairs or scooters and even children on tricycles or bikes with training wheels pending where you are riding. Be ready for anything and everything!
When in comes to people on foot and other bicyclists you need to look forward and behind to guarantee the lane is clear that you pass onto the left. Often folks walking can hear you coming but you can offer an audible noise if you think it is a tight squeeze with little room to pass. A horn, bell or vocally tell them you are passing on their left will work. Before merge back in be sure that you have given those behind you 2-3 bicycle lengths of space. When it’s raining, and you do not have fenders give much more space prior moving in front of them so they do not get sprayed from the wheel spray.
When passing drivers, you need to keep as far to the right as you can without placing yourself at risk of having a door opened up on you. Ouch! Don’t pass on the right when there’s a road, driveway or parking place a vehicle can turn into. When vehicle is suggesting that they’ll be making a right-hand turn or if the vehicle is at a committed turning lane then you can have to shoulder check and move them on left-hand side.
Signaling Your Turns
Use proper hand signs to warn others you will be turning soon. Do it soon enough that people who may be trying to maneuver you do not try to do so from the intersection you anticipate turning in.
Be Visible At Night
Many helmets come with front and rear light for night riding. Like a vehicle, red taillights in back, white headlights in the front. I highly recommend reflective clothing as well. One time I had to work late and did not wear reflective clothing that day. The batteries on my helmet light were starting to wear down so they weren’t as bright as they should be. I felt pretty uncomfortable riding and not being visible to the traffic. I bought reflective tape and placed that on my frame and I always now carry two AA batteries with me in my bike kit. Always be prepared and please do not ever ride at night without having lights for safety.
Stopping At Intersections
When you are coming to stop at a light or stop sign you need to stop behind the automobiles along with other cyclists facing you. Do not make your way to your front. Be patient. You are able to pass once everybody gets moving, and pass them you will. Best thing about riding a bike in my opinion.
You may at some point have to come to an abrupt stop for one reason or another, be sure to pull over. Just like when driving, stopping abruptly can place the biker behind you in harms way. Try to avoid stopping in the flow of traffic just like you would if you were driving a car on the street.
Parking Your Bicycle
Park your bike considerately. Bike parking shouldn’t interfere with people walking, vehicle or truck motions. Utilize bicycle racks correctly, so more bicycles may park. When bicycle rack is completely filled up do not shove your bicycle between others in risk of damaging other people’s bikes. Start looking for the upcoming available stand. Use a quality bike lock.
Enjoy The Ride And HAVE FUN!
The majority of bicyclists wish to construct a supportive and lively community. Say hello to a fellow commuter, do not be bashful. You may find someone that may need help, stop and see whether they want a hand. Wouldn’t you hope that someone would do the same for you? Pay if forward I say. Even if you don’t understand how to fix a bike chain which has dropped off or fix a flat bike tire perhaps they simply require another pair of hands or words of encouragement. Never know, maybe you will make a great friend!
Ride safely and smile big! All my best! Nicole