As you’re getting ready for Bike MS: Sam’s Club, don’t forget to check out our safety tips!
Here’s a few more of my favorites…
Many cyclists find that situations occur in which quick thinking and heightened bike-handling skills are required. Here are some suggestions for managing potential obstacles:
- Cars can be scary. Drivers do not know your skill level, and will often not leave room when they pass. Give them the room. In a group, call out “car back” and move to the far right in a single file. Be predictable.
- Beware of animals. Knowing how to handle depending on the situation. You may want to slow down, outsprint the dog, or yell “stop”, “no” or “go home.” (I’ve heard of one cyclist who has found success yelling “Get off the couch!”) Distracting a dog with a spray from a water bottle should only be used when you are not in a pack. Try to keep to one side of the dog. Let others know of your intentions.
- Pedestrians, joggers and animals have the right-of-way. Signal the pack that someone is being overtaken and move to allow room for safe passing.
Group riding requires even more attention to predictability than riding alone. Other riders expect you to continue straight ahead at a constant speed unless you indicate differently.
Use hand and verbal signals to communicate with fellow cyclists and with other traffic. Hand signals for turning and stopping are as follows: left arm straight out to signal a left turn; left arm out and down with your palm to the rear to signal slowing or stopping; and for a right turn, put your right arm straight out or put your left arm out and up.
Warn cyclist behind you well in advance of changes in your direction or speed. To notify the group of a change in path, the lead rider should call out “left turn” or “right turn” in addition to giving a hand signal.
CHANGE POSITIONS CORRECTLY
Generally, slower traffic stays right so you should pass other on their left. Say “on your left” to warn the cyclist ahead of you that you are passing. If you need to pass someone on the right, say “on your right” clearly since this is an unusual maneuver.
When riding in a group, most of the cyclists do not have a good view of the road surface ahead, so it is important to announce holes, glass, sand, grates and other hazards. The leader should indicate hazards by pointing down to the left or right and by shouting “hole,” “bump,” etc. where required for safety.
WATCH FOR TRAFFIC COMING FROM THE REAR
Because those in front cannot see traffic approaching from the rear, it is the responsibility of the riders in back to inform the others by saying “car Back.” Around curves, on narrow roads or when riding double, it is also helpful to warn of traffic approaching from the front with “car up.”
WATCH OUT AT INTERSECTIONS
When approaching intersections that require vehicles to yield or stop, the lead rider will say “slowing” or “stopping” to alert those behind to change in speed. When passing through an intersection, some cyclists say “clear” if there is no cross traffic. Note tat each cyclist is responsible for verifying that the way is indeed clear.
LEAVE A GAP FOR CARS
When riding up hills or on narrow roads where you are impeding faster traffic, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. That way a motorist can take advantage of shorter passing intervals and eventually more around the entire group.
MOVE OFF THE ROAD WHEN YOU STOP
Whether you are stopping because of mechanical problems or to regroup with your companions, move well off the road so you don’t interfere with traffic. When you start up again, each cyclist should look for, and yield to traffic.
RIDE ONE OR TWO ACROSS
Ride single file or double file as appropriate to the roadway and traffic conditions and where allowed by law. Most state vehicle codes permit narrow vehicles such as bicycles and motorcyclists to ride double file within the lane. Even where riding double is legal, courtesy dictates that you single up when cars are trying to pass you.