We’re passionate about cycling here on the Olympic Peninsula. Whether it’s heading out for a leisurely ride on the local scenic byways, exploring a new single-track mountain bike trail, or wandering on two wheels for hours down a hard-packed dirt or gravel road, we can easily get carried away with the sheer joy and excitement of the ride! But we never lose sight of the importance of cycling safely and courteously.
Bicycle safety and courtesy go hand in hand…
Bicycle safety and courtesy go hand in hand…Following the “rules of the road,” is a given and we always encourage others to do so—indeed to develop that as a habit, as something you do without having to think about it.
Being courteous on the road or the trail, though, is more about the attitude you have toward not only your fellow cyclists, but also toward others using the same route from one place to another—the vehicles, pedestrians, runners, hikers, and horseback riders sharing a journey with you.
Bicycle safety and bicycle courtesy really go hand-in-hand—you can’t truly practice one without the other.
OPBA encourages and promotes good bicycle safety and manners for the enjoyment and security of all who share our roads and trails.
For experienced cyclists, the following principles and practices are (or at least should be) familiar—and second nature. For those new to cycling, however, and as a reminder to those with lots of miles behind them, here’s a short guide to good cycling safety and etiquette.
Key actions and behaviors to keep in mind:
- Always pass on the left.
- Announce your presence: ring a bell and / or shout out as you approach (e.g., “passing on your left”). Be aware that you may inadvertently startle the person you are passing, which may cause them to make unpredictable moves. So let them know early. Don’t wait until you’re right behind or next to them.
- Be cognizant of those on the road or trail who may have hearing impairments (including those with ear buds firmly in place rocking to their favorite tunes). These days, many seniors are out exercising and the use of electronic devices on roads and trails is common.
- Do not ‘blow by’ pedestrians. Slow and provide clearance (remember the shoulders of our roads and most all of our trails are multi-use).
- Offer a friendly greeting—you know you love it when you get one!
- Ride singly or in pairs as the trail or shoulder permits.
- Ride as far to the right as is safely possible.
- Go slow when passing people, especially those with dogs or on horseback; keep in mind that horses, dogs, and even some people, might be skittish around a bike.
- Stay out of right hand turn lanes if you are going forward.
- If you are the cyclist being passed, show courtesy by maintaining your current speed and if possible, move slightly to the right- if there is room.
- When riding with other cyclists:
- Use verbal alerts: – “Car Back” means there’s a car approaching from behind. – “Car Up” means there is a car ahead coming toward you. – “Car Left”, or “Car Right” means there is a car approaching from the left or the right. – “Stopping!”, or “Slowing!” – is called out when you cannot make a hand signal quickly enough.
- Use verbal or hand alerts also to point out hazards like glass, potholes, or car doors that might open suddenly to those riders behind you.
Cycling is fun—that’s why most of us do it. But riding a bicycle can also can be dangerous. We encourage all riders to practice safe riding habits. The following safety tips can go along way to ensuring your ride is fun from start to finish, unmarred by a nasty spill or, worse, a trip to the Emergency Room.
- Be Visible (the single most effective safety practice is to be highly visible)
- Wear bright colors: florescent (day) or reflective (night) not black.
- Wear reflective clothing at night.
- Equip your bike with lights fore and aft–day and night–and a mirror.
- Use a bell to announce your presence to other cyclists and pedestrians.
- Be predictable (Cyclists make drivers nervous, being predictable helps calm them.)
- Ride with traffic (it’s the law).
- Signal turns using standard arm signals.
- Do not weave in and out of traffic.
- Obey traffic signs and laws.
- If you need to “take the lane” move into the center of the lane.
- Be Alert (avoid the cycling ‘trance’).
- Stay tuned in – Keep your mind on the road and your surroundings.
- Keep an eye out for hazards like glass, potholes, or car doors that might open suddenly.
- Look behind you before passing to make sure it is clear. Better yet, when riding on the road, have a rear-view mirror and use it. Keep in mind that you are a vehicle and riding in traffic with much larger vehicles. Would you really consider doing so in your car without a rear-view mirror? Why would you not use one while riding your bike in traffic?
- Know where you are going and how to get there.
- Cross RR tracks diagonally.
- Be protected (a properly adjusted helmet and safe bike are essential).