Bicycle Commuter Etiquette

Simple ways to be a respectful bike rider

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 workday with a bike ride! As a new bicycle commuter, you may also see and encounter a couple of things that look unknown.

coworkers on bike to work day, Bike to work, Bike Commuter, Make friends

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 to 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 it 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 the 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 to 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 a 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 the 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.

bike commuter signaling turn on busy city street, love to bicycle

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. The 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 harm’s 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 at the risk of damaging other people’s bikes. Start looking for the upcoming available stand. Use a quality bike lock.

VERY FULL Bike rack, bike lock, where is my bike? I love to bicycle, Bike commuter

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 it 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!

5 thoughts on “Bicycle Commuter Etiquette

  1. Hello, 

    This is a very informative post you wrote and very necessary for bicyclists. I wished more bicyclists followed these rules in my city. I have never seen someone signaling their turns, and it could be very necessary and would prevent any incident from happening. 

    Besides that, thank you for informing new bicyclists about what they should do while riding a bike. 

    Best wishes,

    Mariana

  2. Hi Nicole. Perhaps today I’ll read all your awesome articles. Each of your articles gives some new information for me. In this particular post, I particularly saw those traffic signals for bicycles. I never really saw them before in my country. I found this article full of care and concern for bikers. Your analysis is detailed and complete as always.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this post. Your website is a must-read for all passionate bikers.

  3. The most frequent cause of bike crashes are from bicyclists riding on the left side of the road. So I always  remember to ride on the right !Yes! We would love to learn more about their bike commuting experience and what works well for those who are hearing impaired. I will like you to address this matter. Thanks!

  4. Now that you are bicycle commuter you have a responsibility to not be a jerk. When it comes to pedestrians and cyclists you should look ahead and behind to ensure the lane is clear for you to pass on the left. 

    We are a minority on the road and we are still fighting for many rights and better conditions. 

    Be a good example, and enjoy the newfound liberty with respect and responsibility

  5. Hello, Nicole and right off the top I have to say thanks for the article and that It amazes me how many people don’t think they need to wear a helmet.  they just have all these crazy reasons, (and they are crazy).  I would rather bust a helmet and have a mild concussion than a busted head and, worse DEATH because I didn’t wear a helmet.  It’s the only thing between you and the hard pavement and if you’re not wearing one, the pavement wins EVERY TIME.

    Another issue that irks me is the ones that don’t have lights on their bikes and reflectors or flashing red lights on the back of their bikes.  Bright reflective jackets are a necessity at night and during the day as well.  Anything we can do to make ourselves more visible not only protects us but other cyclists and the drivers that are out there.

    One more thing I would like to say is, that, (and this is for all those who drive automobiles), PLEASE make yourself aware of the rules that cyclists have to adhere to.  You HAVE TO SHARE THE ROAD with cyclists.  The road is not just for you and you are not justified to be mad at a cyclist because they are doing what they know they are allowed to do.

    We need to respect each other and BE AWARE of each other.  If we can do that, suffering and death will be much less.

    I have always felt pretty secure most of the time when riding my bicycle on the road because I respect the rules and I think it should be mandatory for all new cyclists to take a course on road etiquette and auto training should include a section about the rights of cyclists on the road.

    One more note.  If anyone wants to know what the rules of the road ar for cyclists, I believe they can get a copy of those rules at their local police station.  I know I can get them where I live so a form of those rules should be available in other cities as well.

    Your post is spot on, Nicole and I hope many will read it and become diligent in their cycling road safety.

    Wayne

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