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Bike Etiquette and Common Sense

 

III. MCBC's Bicycling Laws and Safety Tips

Bicyclists on public roadways assume all the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers, and are subject to the same state laws and local ordinances. For everyone's safety, observe these bicycling rules:

  • BE PREDICTABLE

Never ride against traffic. Motorists aren't looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road. Many other hazards threaten the wrong-way rider.

Obey traffic signs and signals, and basic right-of-way rules. Cyclists must drive like motorists if they want to be taken seriously. Doing so is also the safest behavior. When approaching a stop sign or red light, you are required to come to a complete stop and proceed only when safe to do so.

Use hand signals. Hand signals tell other road users what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy, and of self-protection.

Ride in a straight line. Whenever possible, ride in a straight line, to the right of traffic but about a car door's width away from parked cars.

Don't weave between parked cars. Don't ride to the curb between parked cars, unless they are far apart. Motorists may not see you when you try to move back into traffic.

Follow lane markings. Don't turn left from the right lane. Don't go straight in a lane marked "right-turn-only." Stay to the left of the right-turn-only lane if you are going straight.

Choose the best way to turn left. There are two ways to make a left turn. 1) Like an auto. Signal, move into the left lane, and turn left. 2) Like a pedestrian. If you are with-in a designated crosswalk, dismount and walk your bike across.

  • BE ALERT

Watch for right-turning traffic. Motorists turning right may not notice cyclists on their right. Watch for any indications that a motorist may turn into your path. When approaching intersections try to stay far enough from the curb to allow cars to turn right on your right. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.

Look back before you pass or merge. Leave a good 3-4 feet when passing a pedestrian or another bicyclist. A rear-view mirror is a good idea, but don't rely on it alone.

Respect pedestrians' rights. Pedestrians have the right of way. Don't cross side-walks via driveways without yielding to pedestrians. Don't ride on sidewalks. Use the street, bike lane, or bike path. Give a warning: use your bike bell, or call out "Passing on your left".

Keep both hands ready to brake. You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in rain, since brakes are less efficient when wet.

Avoid road hazards. Watch out for street car tracks and old railroad tracks. Cross them perpendicularly. Avoid parallel-slat sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel, potholes. All are hazardous, especially when wet.

Watch your speed. Observe posted speed limits and obey the basic speed law: Never ride faster than is safe under the existing conditions.

  • BE EQUIPPED

Use good lights at night. Front light, wheel and pedal reflectors are required. The front light must be visible from 300 feet. Use a rear red light for enhanced visibility. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.

Ride a well-equipped bike. Be sure your bike is adjusted to fit you properly. For safety and efficiency, outfit it with bells, rear-view mirrors, racks or baskets, lights and reflectors.

Be visible. Wear light or bright-colored clothing.

Wear a helmet when you ride. Helmets that have passed Snell Foundation or ANSI Z90.4 standard crash tests should be worn. Bike helmets may need to be replaced after a fall. All youths 18 and under must wear a bicycle helmet when operating a bicycle or when riding as a passenger.

Passengers must ride on a separate attached seat. If the passenger is 4 years old or younger, or weighs 40 pounds or less, the seat shall adequately retain the passenger in place and protect him/her from the bike's moving parts. In addition, this passenger must wear a helmet of good fit, fastened securely, meeting ANSI Z90.4 helmet standards or Snell Memorial Foundation's 1984 Standard for protective headgear.

Keep your bike in good repair. Maintain your bike in good working condition. Check brakes regularly and keep tires properly inflated. Learn to do routine maintenance yourself or leave it to the experts at your local bike shop.

Get in shape. Before riding, spend a few minutes stretching your legs and body. If you are not an experienced cyclist, start with short trips and work up to longer distances.

  • PARKING TIPS

Park considerately. Bicycle parking should not interfere with pedestrian and vehicle movements. Use bike racks properly, so more bikes may park.

Buy a lock that is appropriate and use it correctly. U-shaped locks offer the best security but require the removal of the front wheel in order to secure both wheels and frame. Lay the front wheel alongside the rear wheel and loop the 'U' around both wheels and frame of your bike. If the 'U' portion of the lock is completely filled with the wheels and frame, the lock has less chance of being broken open. Tall signposts and ironwork are the best objects to lock your bike against. Small trees are easily cut, permitting thieves to lift a locked bike away from its support. Chains should be hardened and have %/16-inch diameter links, and a key lock with hardened hasp of the same diameter. Be sure to secure both wheels and the frame, and never leave the padlock resting on the ground. Smaller diameter chains and cables are appropriate for short time use only, usually in instances where you can see the bike when it's locked. Keep a record of your bike serial number. Should your bike be stolen, report the serial number and description of your bike to the police department.

  • RIDE SAFELY AND COURTEOUSLY

Probably the single most important thing a bicyclist can do to earn bicyclists greater respect on the road is to obey stop signs and traffic signals.

Motorist Etiquette-->

Conceived, compiled and edited by: Joe Breeze, MCBC Advisory Board. Questions or comments to the author:joe@breezerbikes.com, or the MCBC