Let’s Be Safe Out There!

Not all roads are this quiet.

Last week, a friend was telling me about her riding partner’s reluctance to ride on roads because she did not know how to ride on the road. It is a very real concern, and one which keeps some people from heading out on their bikes. Bike riding should be safe, comfortable, and fun.

The simple answer to safe riding is ride it like you drive it.

In Massachusetts, the law says that bikes are vehicles and have a right to be on the road. This also means that bike riders have a responsibility to use the same rules of the road as car drivers. Ride in the same direction as traffic. Stop for lights and stop signs. Signal for turns. Use lights at night.

Beyond those rules of the road, riders need to be aware of their unique safety needs. Ride outside the door opening zone of parked cars. Beware of cars trying to turn right in front of you. How to make a left turn.

You can learn to ride safely in traffic.

The City of Somerville has a great resource on their web site which gives information on riding rules, responsibilities, and rules of the road for safe riding. The PDF file also has a map of Somerville bike routes on the other side.

Besides this resource, there are classes which give hands on instruction and practice. MassBike Pioneer Valley sponsors rider education classes with a certified instructor. My friend Ruthy Woodring of the Pedal People Collective offers classes where you can:

Learn how to navigate traffic confidently, use a bicycle for practical transportation year-round, dress comfortably, and carry things effectively; learn basic repair skills: fixing flats, adjustments, what tools to carry, etc.

Ruthy knows what she’s doing, and she’ll soon have you knowing too. Contact information for her is on her web page.

If you just want to practice these skills or go for a ride, drop a note in the comments and I’ll go out with you. Sometimes picking a route different from the way you would take your car can make a big difference. Not all roads are equal. Let’s look at the map together. I want people to ride bikes safely, and with joy. You can do it.

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About Pedal Paradise

Cyclist, Mom, Travel Nut, Bike Riding Empower-er!
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3 Responses to Let’s Be Safe Out There!

  1. It would be a great community service if you did a post about How To Make A Left Turn. When I drive my car, I really *don’t* want to run over fellow cyclists, but sometimes they make it hard…

  2. I totally agree with you that riders need to learn how to do left turns. I think because people know they don’t know, they try to fudge it any way they can. Which makes thinks much worse, and they almost get hit.

    And not just inexperienced cyclists do this. I watched an experienced racer do this just a few days ago, trying to make a left from the right side of cars, did not signal where he was going, but tried to negotiate his way through the intersection. I cringed. The car drivers were surprised, and left stranded in the intersection as his did his maneuver. Horrifying!

    The Somerville map mentioned in the post has a great explanation of left turns, and other turns, complete with diagrams. I highly recommend it as a starting point.

    I think this particular turn might be best learned out on the road, because it does take a certain amount of confidence to get over in the left lane and do it as if you were driving a car.

    But if you are uncertain how to do this safely, as it says on the Sumerville map, you can always get off and cross as a pedestrian. Or change your route to avoid the left.

  3. Pingback: Cycling Safety in the Real World | Pedal Paradise

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