I love riding on the road. I almost prefer riding on the road to riding on bike paths – especially when I am out on a training ride. I am certainly glad that MN has SO many awesome bike paths – and I am equally as glad that they are so well used. And when I am out for a leisurely ride with friends the bikes paths are lovely. However, when I am on a training ride I would prefer not to deal with small children, people riding three abreast and not understanding “on your left” and general lack of self-awareness.
I understand that riding on the road has its own challenges – and yes I have been yelled at, almost taken out by a car door and even had a side mirror brush my jacket while I was going downhill at over 25 MPH.
HOWEVER – if you follow a few simple rules bikes and cars can co-exist on the road. Here are 10.
- Protect your head. WEAR YOUR HELMET! I know – it doesn’t look super cool – but neither does a concussion. Just wear it.
- Stay visible. Make sure that you have reflectors and lights if you are biking at night. If cars can see you, they are less likely to hit you.
- Look, Signal and then LOOK AGAIN! Although you may have the right of way the car is a LOT bigger than you. Make eye contact and signal your turns. Better to yield and stay alive. Nobody can read your mind, silly.
- Stay Alert. Make sure that you are watching out for pothole, drains or other thing in the road.
- Go with the Flow. Bike in the direction of traffic. Always!
- Act like a Car. You are on the road and it is your responsibility to follow all of the rules of the road. All of them …. Don’t be a jerk and give anyone a reason to get mad. Follow the rules.
- Don’t get distracted. Please don’t have your headphones on and the music all the way up. You need to be able to hear what is going on around you. Plus – take this time to unplug and enjoy being outside!
- Obey all of the Traffic Laws. I know I said this before – but it is SO important. And honestly, you can get pulled over and ticketed. I have seen it happen. If you are riding in the road the rules (all of them) apply to you.
- Use the Whole Lane if Needed. Now – normally you want to stay on the shoulder or in the bike lane. Be courteous. However – if there isn’t a shoulder or there is something in the shoulder – you have every right to use the whole lane. Be safe – but also be courteous. Use your best judgement. And – don’t bike on a road that isn’t safe.
- Make sure your Bike Works. This should be a no brainer – but are your tires inflated? Do your breaks work? You wouldn’t drive a car that wasn’t road ready, don’t use a bike that isn’t either.
So – there you have it. Have fun on the roads! Be safe! And remember to watch out for bikers when you are the one in the car. Happy training!
Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day.