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Watch for chasing dogs

Clip Art - Dog

Do not make eye contact with them or firmly yell "NO!" If the dog does not stop, dismount with your bike between you and the animal.

Be Predictable

Obey all traffic laws. You have a legal right to the road, but in order to be safe in traffic you have to act like traffic.


Wear light-colored clothes at night. Bright colors aid visibility during the day. Dress in layers to adjust to temperatures.

Always ride with the traffic flow

This is the law. Motorists are not prepared for bicycle traffic coming from the wrong direction. You also endanger oncoming vehicles.

Be Safe

Clip Art - Helmet

Always wear a Helmet

Pass on the left only 

Motorists do not expect a bicyclist to pass on the right, and tend not to be prepared to handle this confrontation.

Conflicts with Motorists

A lot of motorists act mean toward bicyclists. Some cut you off or curse you because they don't understand you're operating a vehicle just like them. What should you do?

Don't start a fight. As long as you and your bike aren't damaged, don't start a fight--no matter how steamed you get. If you lose your cool, the motorist might decide to nail the next bicyclist who goes by. Or, worse, the motorist might decide to smash you with two tons of metal and glass--and speed off before you can even start to say license plate.

Report harassment. Motorists who touch you or put you in danger might be guilty of assault. Stop and write down everything you can remember: the license plate number, type of car, and where and when it happened. Then call the police.

Take the long view. If more cyclists follow traffic laws, more motorists will start to see bicycles as vehicles. You can help: If a motorist questions what you're doing but isn't hostile, explain what you've learned here.

Avoid Hazards

Watch for sewer grates, manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel, ice and railroad tracks.

Don't wear ear plugs or a headset covering both ears. You will greatly reduce your awareness of your surroundings.


Some railroad tracks cross streets diagonally. If you go over these tracks without changing your direction, your tire might get caught between a track and the road. Instead, try to cross tracks at a right angle--especially when the street's wet.

Rocks and Gravel

When you bike over gravel, don't turn suddenly or use your brakes; you might wipe out.

The Rock Dodge

The Rock Dodge is just a quick turn of the front wheel to miss a rock or hole right in front of you. At the last second, turn the front wheel sharply left and back right again. Both your wheels should miss the hazard

Using Lights 

If you ride paths at night, you should always have lights in front and back. If your light has high and low beams, don't blind others with your bright one.

Don't Block the Path

Don't stop on a path. Instead, move off the path to stop.

Clip Art Photo - Bike Tips

Bicycling Tips







Be Alert

Ride defensively and expect the unexpected. Make eye contact with drivers. Assume they do not see you until you are sure they do.

Scan the Road

Feel comfortable looking back over your shoulder, without losing your balance or swerving into the left lane. Some bicyclists use rear-view mirrors.

Signal your intention to turn

Take as much of the lane as you need for safety. Don't let vehicles creep by and force you into parked cars or the curb.

Choose the best way to turn left

Use the left turn lane if one is present. If not, either use the left hand travel lane or ride to the far-side crosswalk then walk your bike across.

Ride in a straight line

If you ride with someone else, ride in a single file. Allow cars space to pass. Follow lane markings. For example, don't turn left from the right lane, and don't continue straight in a right turn lane.

Traffic Collision

If you're hurt in a traffic collision, don't ride away or shake off what seems like a minor injury--you might find later that it's worse than you thought. If you're a victim of or a witness to a traffic collision, here are the steps to take:

Call 911 for the police. If needed, get medical help immediately.

If you're injured, don't move unless you're sure you won't injure yourself more.

Don't get mad at the scene. Keep a level head so you can ask questions and take notes.

Get the following information from every vehicle: driver name, address, phone number, driver's license number, license plate number, make of car, insurance company name and policy number.

Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses.

Get the police report number from police on the scene.

Write down how the accident happened.

Keep (or photograph) any damaged clothes or equipment.


The law says you should yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. This can test your patience downtown, where hordes of pedestrians cross against the traffic light when they see no cars coming. So what happens when you're zooming down the street, come to a green light, and find a dozen people scurrying through the crosswalk? Warn them by shouting or using a bell, whistle, or horn. Remember: pedestrians look for cars, not bikes.

If there's still a crowd in the crosswalk, or pedestrians freeze, you should slow down or stop. If you don't stop, when you're close enough for the pedestrians to see you clearly, go carefully between them. Try not to go between parents and their kids.

Be Prepared

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Carry a spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, in a seat pack, and a pump which can be mounted on the frame.

The Instant Turn

Use the Instant Turn when a car turns in front of you while you're going straight. To make a very sudden right turn, steer sharply left--towards the car--which makes you lean right. Then turn right hard, steering into the lean.

Don't Do Damage

Don't ride in the grass or dirt, or lock your bike to small trees. You'll compact the soil, kill grass and trees, and cause erosion.


Be sure to drink enough fluids. Your body loses water while you breathe and perspire, but you won’t necessarily feel “sweaty,” because the constant airflow quickly evaporates the moisture. Dehydration can sneak up on you, sapping your energy and mental alertness. Take a sip from your bottle every 10 to 15 minutes, and use stop signs and lights as a chance to hydrate. If you are uncomfortable reaching for a bottle while riding, you can get a hydration backpack, like a CamelBak which allows you to sip on the fly, while keeping your hands on the bars.


Just as you wouldn’t pull out of the driveway with no gas in your car, you shouldn’t hop on your bike with no food in your belly, unless you have a very short commute. Since your body diverts blood from your stomach and into your legs during exercise, it’s important to keep your early meal light and easily digestible. Carbohydrate-centered breakfasts like toast or cereal with juice and coffee are ideal pre-ride fuel.

If you eat a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, you'll benefit from a steady increase in blood sugar levels followed by a gradual decline (sustained energy!). Know what that means? You keep going. A 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein makes a good post-workout recovery snack.

Be Secure

  • Invest in the best locking system you can afford. The U-Shaped locks or cables are highly recommended. Remove the front wheel in order to secure both wheels and frame. Lock your bike to a fixed object in an open public place.

  • Park your bike so that is does not interfere with pedestrian and vehicle movements.

  • Keep a record of your license and a copy of your bike purchase receipt.

  • Report all bike thefts to the police. Lost or stolen bikes are usually turned in to the police and will be auctioned off after 90 days. Check with your local police department.

It should be apparent from the above to always carry pencil and paper, plus some identification about you that lists an emergency contact and your medical conditions that specialists might need.

Trouble Situations

Emergency Moves - When you're moving fast and something gets in your way, slamming on the brakes doesn't always work. This section describes some emergency moves that you can practice in a quiet parking lot. Start slowly, then work your speed up. Practice--so when you need an emergency move, you make it automatically. This section also tells you why knowing how to fall might keep you from serious injury.

The Quick Slow-Down - When you stop fast, your weight shifts from your back wheel to the front. Even if you use both your front and back braked your back tire can skid and start to lift. To slow down quickly:

  • Push yourself as far back on the bike as you can. This keeps weight on the back tire.
  • Put your head and torso as low as you can so you don't flip.
  • Squeeze both brakes. If the back tire starts to slide or lift, ease up on the front brake.

How To Fall - Most serious bicycle injuries involve brain damage, so the best way to protect yourself in a fall is by wearing a helmet. Otherwise, it's not easy to prepare for a fall. But if you have time to think:

  • When you're about to hit a car, don't try to wipe out first; instead, stay upright as long as you can. If you get low you risk going under the wheels or hitting the sharpest parts of the car.
  • If you go flying, tuck your head, arms, and legs into a tight ball and try to roll when you hit the ground. If you stick your arms out you're likely to break them, or your collarbone, or both.

Assault - It's rare, but it can happen. If somebody's determined to attack you, they will--whether you're on foot, bike, or in a car. If you're afraid to bike in a certain neighborhood, don't--or go with friends and stay on busy streets. Here are some other tips:

  • The best defense is to stay alert. If you see someone who looks like they'll hurt you, stay away from them.
  • Don't stop, for any reason, in places where you think you're about to be attacked.
  • Carry a defensive spray, such as a Mace or dog repellent, where you can grab it quick. Remember that people who use this stuff often get it blown back in their faces.
  • If you get knocked off your bike by a mugger, don't fight. Try to notice what they look like, then go to the nearest phone and call 911.

Off Street Bicycling

Where can you bicycle away from the streets? On park pathways and designated bike paths. Despite the pleasant setting, bicycle collisions happen almost three times as often on paths as on streets. Here are some tips about safe path riding.

Be Courteous - Unless there are arrows to direct them, people on paths don't know which side to travel on and when to yield. So the most important rule for everyone is, act courteously. When in doubt, give the other person a break.

Ride Predictably - Ride straight and at a steady speed so people can stay out of your way. Always look back before passing or turning. And use hand signals and make noise by shouting or using a bell, horn, or whistle.

Where to Pass? - Slower path traffic should stay right, except to pass--just like traffic on the street. And you usually should pass others on the left. When there's not enough room on the left, pass on the right. Always signal so people behind you know which side you'll pass on.

Call Out to Others - Yell "on your left" or "on your right" before you pass another cyclist, a skater, or a runner. If you shout at people walking, some will freak out and jump in front of you. So if they're walking in a straight, predictable line, you can pass them without saying anything--but pass them with as much distance as you can. Or you can slow to their speed, and say "bicycle passing on your left" and wait for them to move aside. And don't wear headphones so you can hear others passing you.

When to Yield - Here's when to yield on a path:

  • When you enter a path, or you're on a path that crosses a street or another path, always be ready to slow down and yield to cross traffic.
  • If cross traffic has a stop or yield sign, they should yield to you.
  • If there are no signs, you should yield to the person who reaches the intersection first.
  • Yield to anyone who looks like they won't slow down for you.
  • If there's no room to pass yield to people in front of you who are moving slower than you.


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This page was last updated on January 23, 2012