I love seeing all of the new cyclists on the road since the start of the pandemic, but there are a few tips that I would like to remind new riders and experienced riders to keep you safe on the roads. Of course, we all know to wear a helmet and how to wear it properly, to fill up our tires and to do a bike safety check prior to riding, but there are a few simple things you can do to keep you safe:
- Use the bike lane on the correct side of the street, going with the flow of traffic. If there is no bike lane, you should ride in the same direction as all vehicle traffic because you are operating a vehicle if you ride a bike.
- Stay off the sidewalks. Again, a bike is a vehicle. There are too many pedestrians and businesses, and you’re not a 3 year old riding alongside your parents who are walking next to you.
- Use hand signals and be predictable to drivers. I actively look for cyclists when I’m driving and was surprised this morning when a cyclist passed me on the right of my vehicle as I slowed to stop at a stop sign. Don’t do that. Yes, I did see him, and no I didn’t even get close to hitting him. He also had lights.
- When stopping at a light or stop sign, get behind the car in front of you rather than squeezing to the right of the car in the space between the vehicle and the curb. Take the WHOLE LANE. You should be highly visible with your lights.
- Use highly visible lights. A bike is a vehicle and should have lights like cars do.
- If you are riding on a road with a small shoulder or no shoulder, TAKE THE LANE. Ride a few feet to the LEFT of the white line and stay out of the dangerous shoulder with its debris and slippery white line. Although this seems counter-intuitive, you’re actually more likely to get clipped and hit if you try to move too far to the right. Make the drivers of cars pass you safely because if a driver thinks they cannot get around you, they will drive behind you until it’s safe to pass. Oftentimes, drivers will think they can get around a cyclist who rides too far to the right and end up hitting the cyclist. Riding farther to the left has an additional benefit as you approach an intersection because if you are farther over to the left, drivers waiting at the crossroads will be able to judge your speed on the bike better than if you were really far to the right, making for safer riding.
- Slow down, unclip one foot, and shift to an easier gear as you approach an intersection. Most intersections are mini mounds of pavement, which makes it hard to go up and over after a slow start. A slow start up a short incline can make a cyclist wobbly and more likely to fall in front of traffic. Not a good day.
- As a driver of a car, put the phone down, pay attention, drive slowly through neighborhoods, downtown, and near businesses. Save the faster driving for the interstate. Actively point out runners, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycles to other passengers in the car so they will start to notice them on the roads too. Give kids a wide berth when they’re riding.
For rules about bike laws in your state, visit this website: https://bikeleague.org/StateBikeLaws
For bike advocacy, visit the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia and consider joining to get more bike lanes, trails, and other infrastructure to make the roads safer for everyone: https://bicyclecoalition.org/
For national bike advocacy, here in the US visit: https://peopleforbikes.org/
Black Girls Do Bike: https://www.blackgirlsdobike.com/home
Go by Bike Movement: https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/gobybike/
For group rides in the area: https://www.suburbancyclists.org/