Bicycle Safety 101
Know Before You Go
Learn how to ride safely on the trails and on the road.
Tip #1: Use safe speeds
For the safety and enjoyment of other trail users, travel at a safe speed at all times. Courtesy trumps speed on the trail. Flying down the trail at top speeds might be enjoyable for some, but it’s certainly not for our fellow trail users. Remember—we’re all in this together. Using safe speeds ensures that all trail users feel comfortable and safe. Having a speed demon fly by on the trail can be unsettling. Be respectful by keeping your speed in check and considering the comfort of others, regardless of your training or time schedule—or need for speed. (Some cities have recommended trail speeds; you may want to inquire with your local trail managing orgs.) Challenge yourself to make respect and courtesy the two guiding principles of your trail experience! Keep in mind the comfort levels of all trail users—especially the most vulnerable among us—when you decide how fast to travel on the trail.
Tip #2: Keep right, pass left
When you’re heading down the trail, stay as far right as possible—in a comfortable, safe position. Be sure to give a friendly warning before you pass a fellow trail user, and always pass to the left. Just like driving on the road, slower traffic should stay to the right. When passing, use a bell or quick verbal warning to alert slower traffic to stay in their lane, potentially averting a collision. A friendly heads-up also helps to avoid startling your fellow trail users (sometimes we can get lost in our thoughts!). Safety is the highest priority on the trail. To be a predictable trail user, it’s important that everyone follows the same traffic pattern! By staying right and passing left, others will be able to predict your behavior and act accordingly. Walk or bike on the right side of the trail, and encourage your fellow trail users to do the same. Set a good example by ringing a bell or calling out “On your left!” in a friendly way when passing. Let’s help each other out!
Tip #3: Standing still? Stand aside
By standing aside, you are enabling others to use the corridor freely without having to weave around static users or make sudden stops. It’s also courteous and shows respect for your fellow trail enthusiasts. How do I do it? It’s simple! Just step off the trail so that trail traffic can flow unhindered. If you have a bike or a stroller, make sure you place them completely off the trail as well. If you’re in a big group, gently remind your friends to do the same. This will help ensure a safe trail experience for others, as well as for you, your friends and your family.
Rules of the Road
FOLLOW THE LAW
Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going. Your safety and image of bicycling depend on you. You have the same rights and duties as drivers.
Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
Ride where people can see you and wear bright clothing. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with others.
Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other people on bikes will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Check that your tires have sufficient air, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release levers are closed. Carry tools and supplies that are appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.For more on bicycle safety and riding tips, see:
Thanks to Rails to Trails for its shareable graphics and their Share the Trail 6 Tips to circulate freely in the bicycling community.
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