Riding my bike gets me from point A to point B without gasoline and provides exercise. It’s fun too, but sometimes it’s intimidating.
I’ve been riding a bicycle since I was a kid, but back then I stayed on the sidewalks (or was supposed to). When I had a bike in college I also road on the sidewalk on campus and only later learned that technically that was illegal.
I also had a bike one summer in Massachusetts and attempted road riding. But I didn’t really have a good grasp of the rules, and would chicken out and jump on the sidewalk often.
But now I feel like it’s time to officially learn the rules of riding my bike in the street. That’s what a grown up does, right? So I’ve been studying up so that I feel more confident and know what my rights are.
I actually feel safer riding in the street than on the sidewalk. I don’t have to dodge pedestrians who always have the right of way. And if I’m on a mission to get to work, I’m moving fast. I don’t feel like cars in cross traffic are always looking closely at the sidewalks. They already look in the street, so if that’s where I am, they are more likely to see me and yield. I’ve learned that making eye contact with drivers also helps improve safety.
However, that doesn’t mean I can stop paying attention to where other drivers are. I’m going to start practicing looking behind me and maintaining a straight trajectory. I read about a technique where you put your right hand on the middle of the handlebar for better stability when taking your left hand off to turn around.
I’m using hand signals and stopping at every stop sign and red light. I figure drivers will respect me (and other riders) if I respect the traffic laws. That’s just common sense.
I’m getting braver about changing lanes and making lefts. I now know that I don’t have to ride in the gutter (there could be dangerous debris in there), and that if there’s a right-only turn lane, I have the right away to stay in the straight through lane.
So I’m curious — if you ride in the street, do you have any resources you’d recommend? I think we can all use more tips and advice for feeling confident on the road.