Being courteous—being nice—always pays dividends in our relationships with others and that’s especially true for us as cyclists because courtesy is an integral part of safe cycling.
“Bike Manners” is meant to be a kind of short-list of recommended behaviors—an attitude—we, as cyclists, should adopt and practice consciously and consistently. If we model that behavior, we might even get others to do the same and that, in turn, will make for a better experience for everyone when cycling!
The foundation for good bike manners: respect.
- Respect others using the road or trail—other cyclists, hikers, walkers, runners, those on horseback, drivers.
- Respect the rules of the road or the trail.
- Respect the road or trail you’re on.
Be nice. “Share the road, and “Share the trail,” should be more than just slogans—treat others using the same space with the kind of courtesy, politeness, and care, you expect.
Be friendly. Everyone appreciates a pleasant acknowledgement—a wave, a greeting—when they encounter someone else on the road or trail, especially if it’s a total stranger. Either you’re both out enjoying a great time, or you’re both suffering through the same frustrating weather, road, trail, or traffic conditions.
To help others who are sharing the road or trail with you practice the “Big 3” principles of cycling safety: Be visible. Be predictable. Be alert.
Respecting the rules:
To respect the rules you have to know the rules; that’s a good start.
Of course, you should be very familiar with the official rules—the laws that apply whether you’re riding on an urban street, a back-country road, or a mountain bike trail. But there are other “unofficial” rules, codes of conduct, that should be respected and followed as well; be sure you know and practice those, too.
Respecting the road or the trail:
Ride aware. Don’t take road or trail conditions for granted or assume they never change.
It’s hard to “abuse” a paved road, though littering is one way. Trails, on the other hand, are easily abused and “respecting the trail” means, well, you don’t abuse it—you don’t ride in the mud and rain, you don’t skid or carve new lines, you take your trash home.