July 12 (everydaywanderer.com/) – Bicycles are a fun and increasingly popular way to explore destinations. But whether you travel with your own bicycle or rent a bike from an on-demand kiosk or local vendor, it’s important to know and follow the local biking rules before hitting the road.
Before you jump on a bike and pedal your way through the streets, be sure you familiarize yourself with these biking rules to stay safe and obey bike laws.
1. Where You Should (and Should NOT) Ride Your Bike
One of the most basic biking rules is this: When you are riding your bike, you need to act like you’re driving a car. And when you are walking your bike, you need to act like a pedestrian. That means you ride your bike in the same direction as the vehicular traffic (not against it).
2. Follow All Traffic Laws, Signs, and Signals
Because riding your bike requires you to abide by the same traffic laws, signs, and signals as a car, you need to come to a full stop at all stop signs and obey all traffic lights.
3. Know the Pecking Order
Bikes yield to pedestrians and cars yield to both bikes and pedestrians. So when you’re on a bike, remember this hierarchy.
If you are riding your bike, you need to yield to all pedestrians in a crosswalk, just like you would in an automobile. And if you want to use the crosswalk to cross the street, you need to hop off your bike and slip into pedestrian mode to walk it within the striped lines of the crosswalk.
4. Use Biking Hand Signals to Change Lanes
It’s easy to indicate a lane change when driving a car: Either push up (or down) on the indicator to signal a desire to turn right or left. When riding a bike, the indicator is your left arm. Know biking hand signals and use them before turning right or left when riding your bike.
To signal a left turn while riding a bike, extend your left arm straight out. And you can indicate a right turn by extending our left arm and then bending it upward at the elbow.
And just like you should always, always, ALWAYS look over your shoulder before making a lane change in a car, you must do the same when riding a bike. After all, the consequences of a collision from not checking your blind spot can be much more catastrophic when you’re on a bicycle than when in a vehicle.
5. Stay to the Left and Pass on the Right
When operating a motor vehicle, slower traffic should stay to the left. Despite what you witness on the roads every day, the left lanes should be used for passing. However, I regularly see cars camped out in the far right lane going below the posted speed limit.
You absolutely cannot do this when riding a bike. Be sure to keep to the left side of the road. When you need to pass a pedestrian (in a shared use lane) or a slower bicycle, be sure to announce your intention by ringing your bicycle bell (if you have one) and saying, “on your right.”
6. Know and Follow Helmet Laws
While a bicycle helmet is always a good idea.
Sage Advice: It’s also wise to wear bright colors when cycling so you stand out to motorists.
7. Use the Bicycle Lane When Available
As a cyclist, I’m always thrilled to see a bicycle lane and always use it when one is available. Some countries have laws requiring cyclists to use the lanes, and police officers might issue tickets to cyclists who aren’t using the bike lanes when they are available.
8. And Know How to Properly Use the Road When Bike Lanes Aren’t Available
When a bike lane isn’t available to cyclists, all 50 states allow you to share the road with motorized vehicles. This means you have the right to ride on the main road and not the shoulder. However, you do need to ride your bike on the right side of the road, generally within about three feet of the white line on the right side of the road.
9. Biking Under the Influence
Because traffic laws for motorized vehicles also apply to bicycles, you should never, ever ride a bike under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.
10. Cell Phones and Cycling
I’m not talented enough to ride a bike and navigate my cell phone. But if you possess such skills, don’t display them on the road. In addition to the laws on the books for drivers, many states have additional, specific laws prohibiting cyclists from speaking, texting, or otherwise using their cell phones while operating a bicycle.