Bicycle Commuting Tips from the League of American Bicyclists

Bicyclists' Rules of the Road

The following information comes from the League of American Cyclists Essential Bicycling Skills brochure

Rules of the Road

1. Follow the Law
Your safety and the image of bicyclists depend on you.  You have the same rights and duties as drivers.  Obey traffic signals and stop signs.  Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.

2. Be Predictable.
Make your intentions clear to motorists and other road users.  Ride in a straight line and don't swerve between parked cars.  Signal turns and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.

3. Be Conspicuous.
Ride where drivers can see you; wear bright clothing.  Use a front white lights and red rear light and reflectors at night or when visibility is poor.  Make eye contact with drivers.  Don't ride on sidewalks.

4. Think ahead.
Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians and other bicyclists will do next.  Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars.  Look out for debris, potholes, and utility covers.  Cross railroad tracks at right angles.

5. Check your tires have sufficient air pressure, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release wheel levers are closed.  Carry repair and emergency supplies and appropriate for your ride.  Wear a helmet

Traffic Principles

First come first served

A Cyclist has a right to occupy a safe space on the road

First operator to a four way stop has the right to go first

Vehicles merge in into your lane must give you the right of way

Ride on the right

Always ride with the flow of traffic

Do not ride on the sidewalk

Allow yourself room to maneuver around roadway hazards

Yield to traffic in busier lanes

Roads with higher traffic volumes should be given the right of way

Alway use signals to indicate your intentions to switch lanes

Look behind you to indicate your desire to move and to make sure that you can

Traffic in your destination lane has the right-of-way

Making eye contact with drivers lets them know that you see them

Signal and make your lane change early, before you need to

Speed Positioning

Position yourself relative to the speed of other traffic

Left-most lane is for fastest moving traffic, right-most lane is for slower moving traffic

Intersection Positioning

Position yourself in the right-most lane that goes in the direction of your destination

Ride in the right third of the lane

Avoid being overtaken in narrow-lane situations by controlling the lane


Lane Positioning


Most bicycle laws use the same language regarding where cyclists should drive

Directions to ride "as far to the right as practicable" appears in most laws

No clear definiton of practiable has been identified, but it is not as far right as possible


Do not ride in the gutter or where you often find poor road conditions and constant hazards

Give yourself ample room to your right to maneuver in an emergency

Right in the right third of the lane if there is not sufficient room for lane sharing

Traffic rules

Slower moving vehicles travel to the right of faster moving ones

Motorists are looking for other vehicles in or near the travel lanes' not against curbs

Follow the same rules as motorist including yielding right-of-way and signaling


If a lane narrows ahead or is blocked by another vehicle, establish your position in traffic early

Avoid riding where glass and other trash accumulates on the right side of roadways

Grates and gutterpans should be avoided by positioning yourself away from them

Ride on the right

Ride in the same direction as traffic; stay far enough away from the curb to avoid hazards

Ride in the right third of the right-most lane that goes in the direction youa re going

Control the lane if traveling the same speed as traffic or in a narrow lane


Always ride in or near a travel lane; stay visible by riding where drivers are looking

Wear bright clothing at night as well as during the day

Do not pass on the right; motorists are not looking for other vehicles there

Parked cars

Ride in a straight line, no in and out of parked cars on the side of the road

Beware of cars merging onto the roadway from a parallel parking position

Always ride far enough away (3 feet) from parked cars to avoid hitting a door opened in front of you

Control the lane

If there is insufficient road width for cyclists and cars

If traveling from the same speed as other traffic or if hazards narrow the usable width

Before intersections and turns to assert your position on the roadway

Lane Changes and Turns

Position for Turns

Before a turn; scan, signal and move into the lane that leads to your destination

Ride in the right third or middle of the lane, as lane width indicates

Keep in mind the relative speed between you and other traffic, plan accordingly.

Avoiding turn lanes

If your lane turn into right turn only lane, changes lanes before the intersection.

Changing lanes too late could result in an overtaking motorist turning in front of you

Maintain a constant position relative to the curb or should during a turn

Beware of Blind Spots

Many drivers do not expect to see cyclists on the roadway

Do not ride next to another vehicle unless you are in a different lane or passing

If you can't see bus, truck, or car mirrors, drivers can't see you.


Signal your intention to turn or changes lanes if your speed is near other traffic.

Left arm out and down with palm to the rear to indicate stopping

Left or right arm straight out to indicate left or right turn


Constant identification of potential hazards in front and behind as well as to each side.

Scanning allows you to avoid dangerous situations before they happen.

Scan for motorists, road conditions, pedestrians, animals, traffic signals


Relative speed may require you to move quickly and decisively when it is safe to do so.

In high speed overtaking traffic situations cross all lanes at once when safe

Move after signaling in low- and same-speed traffic situations


If  you get caught between lanes while crossing traffic, ride the white line until clear

Ride to red light  and them move to left turn lane if volume and speed do not allow crossing

Your safety is paramount while changing lanes; if traffic is too heavy, use crosswalks

How to Avoid Getting Doored

Lane Positioning

Ride with your handlebars at least three feet from parked cars

Never swerve between parked cars;use the outside of the next car as your guide

Avoid riding on the right side of any stopped car, especially if it is near the curb.

Sudden Stops

If a car stops in front of you suddenly, stop, look for exciting passengers, then pass on left

Make sure that you stop safely before you release the handlebar to signal and pass.

Maintaining control of your bicycle is the most important task.


Before turning, look for cars double-parked in your destination lane

When turning, control the lane so you don't get forced to the right of a stopped car.

Bike Lanes

You do not have to ride within a bike lane if you are avoiding a hazard

Cars must no drive in bike lanes but bikes may leave bike lanes at any time

Regardless of bike lane position, never ride within three feet of any parked car

How to Ride in Bike Lanes

Safety considerations

Bike are not required to travel in bike lanes when preparing for turns

Never ride within three feet of parked cars, beware of the door zone

Avoid bike lanes that you think are poorly designed or unsafe; alert you local government


Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turn lane

Always signal as you move out of a bike lane into another traffic lane


Report obstructions and poor maintenance to your local government

Avoid riding immediately adjacent to curbs where trash collects

If debris forces you out of the bike lane, signal your move out into traffic

Parked Cars

Ride in the right most lane that goes in the direction that you are travelling

Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turning motorist

Move out of the right turn lane if you are not turning right

Left Turns

Move out of the bike lane well in advance of the intersection; signal every move

Position yourself in the rightmost left-turning lane Reposition yourself after execting a the turn, remain clear of parked cars


Bike Security


Lock your bike in a highly visible area close to the pedestrian traffic

Streetlights provide additional security at night

Avoid locking your bike behind large objects that obscure visibility

Securing your bike

Lock your frame, wheels, seatpost and anything else easily removed

Seat/seatpost locks are one-time installations and are available at your local bike shop

Lock your bike to a large metal immovable object


Rigid and U shaped with a cylindrical lock core that is impossible to pick

Made of heavy tempered steel that is very hard to break

Most secure, most expensive, hardest to use;locks; considered the standard in cities

Cable Locks

great for short time periods where you bike is highly visible and a low chance of theft

Manufacturers are combining security of U locks with ease of use of cable locks

Smaller, lighter, lesser expensive, easier to use but less secure that a U lock

Carrying a lock

Most locks come with a mount for your bike to keep the lock out of the way

Backpacks, panniers, or any other bag is a quick easy place to stow a lock

Be sure that the lock does not interfere with safe operations of the bike

Time Factor

Short periods away from you bike require a less secure lock; try a cable lock

The longer you will be away from you bike, the more secure it should be

Use the combination of a U lock and a cable lock for overnight parking


Register your bike with a local and/or national registration service

Register your key numbers with the company that make your lock

Mark your bike in an identifiable way to aid in it's recovery if stolen

Carrying Cargo

Rear Rack

Your fist and primary rack should load cargo on the rear of the bike

Carry the majority of your weight in panniers

Attach reflectors and lights to rack so bags don't obscure them

Front Rack

Your secondary rack that should be used only when rack is also loaded

Low rider or standard racks are available; use what suits your preference and pannier

More weight in the front panniers will make you bike less stable


All different sizes and features to fit any budget and use

Some are waterproof but you can always buy a waterproof cover

Make sure that your ankles don't hit panniers when attached to your bike

Packing Panniers

Load specific-use items in same pannier; one for food clothing, tools, etc.

Pack high-use items, such as rain gear and sock, close to the top of each pannier

Avoid packing pointed items directly against pannier that could tear them


Trailers allow you the quickest easy-on, easy off carrying system

Remember to carry trailer-specific tubes, tools and repair parts

Packing your Trailer

Use a trailer-specific bag with sectioned compartments that will aid  organizing

Rain gear and other quick-need items can be lashed to the top of the bag

In waterproof bags, pack heavy items toward the front of the trailer


Avoid Wet gear by packing things in plastic begs inside panniers

Every stitch hole offers water a possible entrance into your panniers and bags

Rain covers minimize the weight that can be added by wet packs


Commuter Gear Basics

Picking A Bike

You can commute on any bike as long as it is good working order.

Road bike, mountain bikes, hybrids, cross bike and touring bikes all work great

The bike should reflect your riding style, relax on a three speed or hammer a road bike

Carrying Capacity

A rear rack and panniers, a basket on the front or a backpack all work well

Panniers are most expensive and are usually waterproof; use them if you have them

Baskets don't carry much and backpacks can make you swear through your clothing


Full fenders are recommended, use quick release or standard bolt-on style

The roadways can be wet from other things besides rain

Fenders also keep dirt and mud off of your clothes


Headlights are mandatory at night; white in front with a rear reflector on back

A red light on the rear of the bike increases visibility at night

Check batteries and replace them as soon as the light begins to dim


Always wear a helmet while riding your bike no matter what

A helmet is your last line of defense against injury in an accident

Prevent injury by knowing the rules of the road and acting predictably


Bring only tools that you know how to use; a pump is a necessity

Prepare for breakdowns with regular inspections of your bike

Carry a multi-tool with allen wrenches, screwdriver, chain tool; know how to use them

Spare Parts

Carry a spare tube and patch kit at all times; keep another spare at work

Know the condition of your bike and it's parts by inspecting it regularly

Keep a few spare parts that need regular replacement at work


Use a high quality U-lock, don't wait until your bike is stolen to invest in a good lock.

Lock your bike to an immovable object in a highly visible area

Secure both wheels and other components if they can be easily removed

Flat Prevention

Tire liners and flat resistant tires go a long way to help decrease flat tire occurrence

Replace tires when they are worn out; check pressure with a gauge

Familiarize yourself with how much air your tires lose each week


Make sure that motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians can see you at night

Wear bright or reflective clothing; apply rereflective tape to helmet and bike

Ankle straps keep pant legs out of the chain and usually have a reflective strip





How to Commute by Bicycle

Sharing the Road

Bicycles are vehicles and should act and be treated as such on the roadway

Laws that apply to motorists apply to cyclists as well; ride on the right, with traffic

Ride in the right-most lane that goes in the direction that you are travelling

Signals and Signs

Obey all stop signs, traffic lights and lane markings

Look before you change lanes or signal a turn; indicate your intention, then act

Identify hazards and adjust your position on the roadway accordingly


If the lane is too narrow or you are going the same speed as traffic, control the lane

Be visible and predictable at all times, wear bright clothing and signal for turns

Always wear a helmet to protect you head in the event of a crash

Route Choice

Consider distance, traffic volume, road width and condition, and terrain

Some routes may be a bit longer but much more pleasant, carry a map for detours

Allow extra time for a new route; try riding different routes on the weekend

Bike Parking

Try to find an indoor parking area in your office or building in which to keep your bike

Lock your bike to an immovable object in a highly visible area out of the elements

Ask your employer or building owner to provide safe, covered parking

Clothing Options

If you have a short commute, ride in your work clothes at a relaxed pace

Cycling specific clothing is an option for longer more strenuous ride

Use waterproof and breathable fabrics to stay comfortable and dry


Showering should not be necessary in the morning when it is cool outside

Many workplaces have showers located in the building; inquire about access

Some health clubs offer shower-only member ships for a few dollars a month

The bike

Any bike that you feel comfortable on will work; make sure it is in good working order

Consider weather protection such as fenders and a rack for carrying capacity

Invest in a rechargeable headlight; helmet and handlebar mounts are available


Have you bike check over by your local bike shop

Learn how to repair a flat, fix a chain and inspect your brake pads for wear

Replace tires when they are worn out; use tires liners if you experience excessive flats


Heat, cold and precipitation require special preparation for you and your bike

Fenders and rain gear keep out the rain; use layers and wind proofing for cold days

Some cycling specific gear can provide relief on hot days, it keeps you cool and dry


Overcoming Bikes Commuting Excuses

I'm out of shape

Ride at an easy pace; In a few months you will be in great shape

Ride your route on a weekend to find the easiest way to work

You will improve your fitness level when you become a regular bike commuter

It takes too long

The average commuter travels at 10 mph; the more you ride, the fast you will get

Trips of less than three miles will be quicker by bike

Trips of five to seven miles in urban areas may take the same time or less as by car

It's too far

Try riding to work and taking mass transit home, then alternating the next day

Combine riding and mass transit to shorten your commute

Ride to a co-worker's house and carpool to work

No bike parking

Look around for a storage area in your building or office

Stash your bike in a covered area or in your building or office

Formally request that your employer provide bike parking or lock it up outside

My bike is beat up

Tell a reputable bike shop that you are commuting and have them tune up your bike

If you can't maintain your bike yourself, identify bike shops near your route

Make sure that your bike is reliable and in good working before you start riding

No Showers

Most commuters don't shower at work; ride at an easy pace to stay cool and dry

Ride home at a fast pace if you want a workout; shower when you get there

Health clubs offer showers; get a discounted membership for showers only

I have to dress up

Keep multiple sets of clothing at work; rotate them on days you drive

Have work clothes clean at nearby laundromats or dry cleaners

Pack clothes with you and change at work; try rolling clothes instead of folding

It's raining

Fenders for you bike and rain gear for your body will keep you dry

If you are at work, take transit or carpool to get home; ride home the next day

Take transit or drive if you don't have the gear to ride comfortably in the rain

The roads aren't safe

Obey traffic signs, ride on the right, signal turns, stop at lights, wear bright clothing

You are at no great risk than driving a car

Wear a helmet every time you ride

I have to run errands

Bolt a rack to the back of your bike to add carrying capacity

Make sure that you have a lock to secure your bike while you are in a building

Allow extra time to get to scheduled appointments and find parking

Rain Riding


Make your turns slowly and consistently; no jerky movements

Keep your weigh on the outside pedal in the 6 o'clock position

If you need to brake in a turn, apply the brakes slowly


Water on the rims lubricate your brake system making it hard to stop

Apply the break lightly to clean off the rims before you need to stop

Allow a great distance for stopping


Bridges, metal grates, and painted lines and crosswalks can be very slick

Avoid puddles at they may conceal deep potholes

During the first few minutes of rain,oil seeps from the roadway making it very slick

Protect yourself

Visibility can be limited during a storm; wear bright clothing

Keep your eyes free of debris with yellow or clear lenses in your glasses

Wear waterproof clothing that is breathable with layers underneath

Protect your bike

Front and rear fenders will keep you and your bike dry

Lube your chain before and/or after a wet ride ro replace the lube that washed off

Drip chain lube down into your brake and shifter cables to avoid rust


Keep the water from your tires of of our face with full-length fenders

A rear rack can shield you from water from your back tire

Fenders are available in quick release versions for easy on easy off


A waterproof and breathable jacket with hood is the best for rain riding

Underarm pit zippers allow you to ventilate your body without letting water in

Hood should fit over helmet, back of jacket should be longer for protection


Waterproof and breathable material is the best for rain pants

A velcro/zippered cuff will help you get them on and off over shoes

Make sure that your chainrings do not cut rain pants, use a rubber band or ankle strap


Waterproof and neoprene socks are available at most outdoor stores

Booties will cover shoes and prevent water from entering

Sandwich bags inside of shoes, over socks can help keep your feet dry.


Waterproof and neoprene glovers are available from most manufactures,

Neoprene keeps water next to skin but allows the body to warm it, like a wetsuit

Glovers should provide wind protection and access to shifters

Why Commute by Bike

Fight pollution

Automobiles produce toxic substances that pollute the ground,k air and water

Burning fossil fuels creates CO2 that contributes to global warming

Automobiles also produce noise pollution

Stay Fit

Bicycle commuting allows you to induce your workout in your daily schedule

Riding a bike instead of your car sitting in traffic is less stressful

Stay in better shape will decrease your chances of getting sick

Avoid traffic delays

Off-road trails, bike lanes and wide curb lanes allow you to ride past traffic

Bike commuting takes less time when you account for car parking and traffic

Longer rides can result in less traffic and more enjoyment of your commute

Save money

Maintenance costs for your automobile will decrease, as will your gas bill

You will save money on parking (and tickets)

You won't have to have a membership to a gym to work out

Enjoy your commute

Arrive at work refreshed and full of energy; ride off stress after work

Commuting under your own power give ou a sense of accomplishment

Take the long way home and ride thorugh a park or along a local river

Bicycle Clothing Basics

Always wear a properly fitting helmet

Make sure that the helmet fits on top of the head, not tipped back

Always wear a helmet while riding a bike, no matter how short the trip

After a crash or impact on your helmet, replace it immediately


Bike shorts include a pad to increase comfort while in the saddle

Tight, close fit keeps fabrics from rubbing your skin and causing irritation

Bike shorts should be worn alone or under another pair of lightweight shorts


Technical fabric of jerseys pulls moisture off of your skin to keep you dry

Jerseys do not absorb moisture, they do not get heavy with perspiration

On cold days, cotton will absorb water and hold it next to your skin, chilling you


Stiff soles of cycling shoes allow better power transmission to pedals

Mesh vents allow air to circulate around feet keeping them dry

Shoes are usually designed to accept cleats for clipless pedals


Protect your eyes from wind, dirt, debris and the sun while riding

Your front wheel or someone else's rear wheel can shoot glass or dirt at your fact

Keep perspiration out of your glasses with a thin headband around your forehead


Provide padding to help increases comfort and relieve numbness while riding

Protect your hands in the event of a fall with cycling specific gloves

Experienced cyclist can clean glass and debris off of tires with gloves while riding


Keep your legs warm and out of the wind with full-length tights when it's cold

Muscles function better when they are warm and protected from the elements

Full-length leg warmers which cam be removed during a ride are also a good idea

Efficieny on the Bike

Use lower gears

Most beginning cyclists push too big a gear, down shift and spin a smaller gear

Low cadence will cause you to fatigue faster and might cause knee pain

Try to spin about 90 RPM; you'll have more energy and get a better workout


When stopped, don't push off the ground to get started

Leave one pedal in the two o'clock position; push down when you are ready to go

You will have enough momentum to balance and and put your other foot on the pedal


You should be comfortable while you ride

Relax while you ride; it takes energy to grip the handlebar in fear

Change hand positions often, slightly bend your elbows, stretch your neck while riding

Don't rock the boat

Make sure that your saddle height is adjusted properly

Too high and your hips rock; too low causes knee pain

You should have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke

Skip the soft shoes

Soft-soled shoes absorb pedaling energy and slow you down

Stiff-soled cycling shoes help you transfer more energy to forward motion

Toe clips and clipless pedals attach your foot to the pedal which increases efficiency

Red light, green light

Restarting from a stop uses more energy than a slowing and not stopping

Time it so that you hit the intersection on green so you don't have to stop

Make sure that you are aware of how your actions affect other vehicles around you

Avoid the wall

Listen to your body while you ride to avoid hitting the wall of exhaustion

Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty to avoid fatigue

If you experience a lightheaded feeling, get off the bike and get some fluids



Sharing the path


Respect other trail users; joggers, walkers' bladers, wheelchairs all have trail rights

Respect slower cyclists, yield to slower users

Obey speed limits; they are posted for your safety

Announce when passing

Use a bell, horn or voice to indicate your intention to pass

Warn others well in advance so you don't startle them

Clearly announce "On your left" when passing

Yield when entering and crossing

Yield to traffic at places where the trail crosses the road

Yield to other users at trail intersections

Slow down before intersections and when entering the trail from the road

Keep Right

Stay as close to the right as possible, except when passing

Give yourself enough room to maneuver around any hazards

Ride single file to avoid possible collisions with other trail users

Pass on left

Scan ahead and behind before announcing your intentions to pass another user

Pull out only when you are sure the lane is clear

Allow plenty of room, about two bike lengths, before moving back to the right

Be predictable

Travel in a straight line unless you are avoiding hazards or passing

Indicate your intention to turn or pass

Warn other users of your intentions

Use lights at night

Most trail users will not have lights at night; use a white front and red rear light

Watch for walkers as you will overtake them the fastest

Reflective clothing does not help in the absence of light

Do not block the trail

For group rides, use no more than half the trail; don't hog the trail

During heavy use periods (holidays and weekends) stay single file

Stop and regroup completely off of the trail

Clean up litter

Pack out more than you pack in

Encourage others to respect the path

Place all litter in it's proper receptacle

Limitations for transportation

Most paths were not designed for high-speed, high volume traffic

Use paths keeping in mind their recreational nature

It might be faster to use roads and avoid the traffic on the paths during heavy use


Shifting and Gears

Front Derailleur

Left shifter controls the front derailleur and which chainring your chain is on

Used less frequently than rear derailleur

Shifting requires more attention than the rear derailleur but is done less frequently

Rear Derailleur

Right Shifter controls the rear derailleur; this is the fine tuning of the gear range

Used most frequently to account for minor changed in terrain

Two or three shifts down is equal to one shift on the front derailleur

Chainrings up front

Bikes come with two or three chainrings; three is for mountain bike and touring

These are low, medium and high range or low and high for road bikes with two

Small ring is low gear for climbs, middle ring for flats, big ring for descents

Cassette in the rear

The smaller the cog on the cassette, the harder the gear is too push

Most bikes have 7, 8, or 9 cogs; rear derailleur moves the chain from one to another

Many front and rear gear combinations overlap


Pedal at about 90 rpms both climbing or descending; it's faster than you think

Shift into an easier gear before you need it; before a climb instead of during one

You should be using the same pedal force and cadence to climb as you do to descend


Climbing and Descending

Climbing Technique

Maintain a high cadence to avoid stress on your knees

Start in a lower gear; upshifts are easier than downshifts

Keep your body relaxed; elbows in, back straight, loose grips on the bars

Climbing Attitude

Confidence will help you ride the entire hill without stopping

Be mentally tough and push yourself; the mind tires before the body

Concentrate on form and breathing, the hill will soon disappear behind you

Climbing efficiency

Eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty, every 20 minutes

Rest should only last a minute or two, don't let the body think it's over

Practice breathing and climbing techniques to be more efficient on the bike

Gearing for climbs

A comfortable gear will be a factor for your fitness level

Choose a gear that will allow you to spin comfortably; avoid excessive knee stress

Use a lower gear to avoid exhaustion during the climb

Endless climbs

Combine sitting and standing to stretch and work different muscle groups

Concentrate on your breathing; try to keep it at a constant level throughout the climb

Remember to eat and drink every 20 minutes to maintain energy output

Speed control

If you do not know the road or traffic volume, ride with extra caution

Hazards are harder to avoid at high speed, especially while turning

Do not overtake motorists unless the road allows it

Ride predictably

Remain in the same portion of the roadway down a curvy descent

Take the lane if you are traveling the same speed as motorists

Take the lane if the road is narrow and curvy regardless of speed


Make sure that your brake pads have at least 1/8' of wear left on them

Brake pads should hit only the rim; pads rubbing the tire can cause a blowout

There should be 1' or more between the lever and bars with brakes depressed.

Braking technique

Long descents require uniform pressure on front and rear brakes

Constant braking can overheat the rims resulting in loss of braking response

Brake before a curve


Riding upright will increase wind resistance and help slow you down

Always keep both hands on the bars; slow down if the bike shakes at high speed

Slow down for wet rides; ask ride leaders about general road conditions


Group Riding

Be predictable

In a group, your actions affect those around you, not just yourself

Riders expect you to continue straight and at a constant speed

Signal your intention to turn or slow down before you do so

Use signals

Use hand signals to indicate turns and point out hazards to others

Left or right arm straight out to indicate left or right turn

Left arm out and down with palm at the rear to indicate stopping

Give warnings

Riders should call out right turns, left turns and stops in addition to signaling

Announce turns before the intersections to give riders a chance to position themselves

Try to avoid sudden stops or turns except for emergencies

Change positions correctly

Slower moving traffic stay to the right; faster traffic to the left

Pass slower moving vehicles on the left, announce your intention to do so

Announce passes on the right clearly as this is not a usual maneuver

Announce hazards

Most cyclists do not have a full view of the road while riding in a group

Announce potholes and other hazards so others can avoid them

Call out the hazard and point down to it, either left or right

Watch for traffic from the rear

The last rider should frequently check for overtaking cars

Announce "car back" clearly and loudly

It is also helpful to announce "car up" on narrow roads or when riding two abreast

Watch out for intersections

Leaders should announce slowing or stopping at intersections if necessary

Cyclists should not follow others through intersections without scanning

Each cyclist is responsible for checking cross traffic; if you must stop, signal

Leave room for cars

On narrow road or during climbs, leave space between every three or four riders

Motorists will utilize the shorter passing intervals to pass the group

Good relations with motorists is the responsibility of every cyclist

Stop off road

When stopping for mechanicals or regrouping, always move clear off the road

Only if conditions permit should you move back onto the road as a group

Always yield to traffic in the roadway

Ride single file

It is illegal in some areas to ride more than two abreast

Ride single file between intersections, double up when the group stops and communicate your next step

When taking the lane, double up and take the whole lane


Lights at Night


By law, you must have a front white light and red rear reflector in most states

Motorists are familiar with white meaning front and red meaning rear

Front lights can illuminate your path or simply make you visible at night


Inexpensive lights seldom light your path, at about 3 watts, they make you visible

Lighting systems are available that put out 45 watts with a halogen bulb

Most full time commuters use at least a 10 watt system with a rechargeable battery

Power sources

From AA batteries to nickel-metal-hydride batteries, the options are endless

Self-contained, rechargeable batteries have the best life and brightest light

Simple AA powered lights have lower initial cost but frequent battery replacement

Helmet vs. bar mount

Helmet mounted lights allow you to get the attention of motorists by looking at them

Bar mounted lights make you look more like a vehicle but only point forward

The ideal situation is one helmet light and one bar mounted light for safety

Rear lights

A red rear blinking light is much more conspicuous that a passive reflector

Make sure that your light is visible to motorists and not pointing up or down

Clear obstructions from the back of the bike that would block the light


Pacelines and Drafting


Following closely behind another ride cuts down on wind resistance

Only draft off of someone whose riding style or experience you trust

Always inform the rider in front that you are on their wheel; between 6" and 18" back


A group of riders drafting off of each other is a paceline, the leader dictates pace

Front rider must communicate obstacles to riders behind, last rider watches traffic

Pay close attention to those ahead and behind; be able to react safely and quickly


Riders in a paceline take turns "pulling" the group along through the wind

To move to the front, check traffic, pull to the left and move to the back

The second riders is now the leader and provides draft for allotted time or distance


Lead rider must signal debris and hazards in roadway as well as stops and turns

Point in direction of hazard and announce "grate" or "gravel" for other riders

Rear rider is responsible for signaling intentions to following traffic


Do not draft on high traffic roads or roads with frequent intersections

There is very little room for error when riding very close to others

Crashing in a paceline has a domino effect, which may knock down riders behind you

Anticipating Motorists Errors

Left turn

Motorists often misjudge the speed of oncoming cyclists and turn into them

Make eye contact when approaching a motorist positioned for a left turn  ahead of  you

Maintain a straight line unless you need to execute an instant turn or quick stop

Right turn

Right turning motorists may turn just after overtaking a cyclists; avoid blind spots

Be aware of overtaking motorists in high traffic situations with constant scanning

Watch the front wheel of the car or look for a signal and avoid them as they turn


Motorists may not recognize a cyclist's right to the road and pull out in front of them

Do not ride so far to the right that you are not in the motorist's normal scanning area

Announce your presence loudly to try and get a  motorist's attention before they move


Always wear bright clothing to make yourself more visible day and night

Learn to recognize when motorists will turn and when they will wait

Ride predictably where you will be seen and always wear a helmet just in case

Assert yourself

Plan to take your right of way but be prepared to act to avoid collision.

Use hand signals, a bell, your voice, lights, anything to get the attention of motorists

Always be aware of a safe way out of danger whether you expect to use it or not


The preceding information comes from The League of American Cyclists Essential Bicycling Skills brochure.