Biking Manners for Adults

by Cindy Post Senning on March 13, 2012

This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily periodically. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

I just had the amazing opportunity to take a three week bike ride from Washington, DC to Burlington, VT. The trip represents many hours on a bike spent thinking about things like biking etiquette. Often, I’m talking to adults about teaching children safe bike riding and connecting it to good manners. Safe practice is respectful and considerate and a good way to teach kids both manners and safety. I always give two pieces of advice. One – know what you can and should expect from your children at any age and expect it. Two – always be the kind of person you want your children to be. That’s the relevant advice for this article! If you want your children to be safe, mannerly bike riders, you must be a safe and mannerly bike rider yourself.

So… safe and mannerly bike riding means (taken from this handy brochure published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration):

Helmet On!

Seven Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety for Adults

  1. Protect Your Head. Wear a Helmet
  2. Assure Bicycle Readiness. Ensure Proper Size and Function of Bicycle.
  3. Ride Wisely. Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road.
  4. Be Predictable. Act Like a Driver of a Vehicle.
  5. Be Visible. See and Be Seen at All Times.
  6. “Drive” with Care. Share the Road.
  7. Stay Focused. Stay Alert.

For a Bicycle Safety Activity Kit, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Web site .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

polite punk March 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

This is great. However, I wish, for once, I would see a message to drivers on how to share the road. Yesterday when biking I almost got hit by a car that decided to enter the bike lane as it made a right turn. This happens almost daily.


Zakafury March 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I’d love to know your opinion on how that situation ought to be handled. It seems to me that a wise cyclist would let a car signalling a right turn get a little distance ahead of them to cross the bike lane without trouble. A polite driver wouldn’t try to race ahead of a cyclist before making a right turn.

If I saw bike traffic, I might “merge” into the bike lane a short way before my intersection, so I wouldn’t have to worry about a cyclist trying to pass me at just the wrong time. I could see how this could incite an “It’s my right of way in this lane!” response, but bicycle lanes are uniquely dangerous precisely because cyclists feel they are sacred and car turning right cannot avoid crossing them.

I wish I could personally thank every cyclist I ever see actually waiting at a red light.


polite punk March 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Technically, the driver doesn’t actually have to cross the bike lane, as the bike lane breaks in the intersections. However, yes, if there is a driver near or in front of me with their right turn signal, I do tend to give them a little distance so that their turn is easier. This guy, on the other hand, cut me off and pulled right in front of me. Sadly, this happens more often than not. He was also on his cell phone.

It would also be nice if drivers learned to look in bike lanes before opening their car doors.

I stop at every stop sign and wait at almost every red light. (The ones I don’t wait at are the ones in very residential neighborhoods where there isn’t another car around. In this case, I do treat it like a stop sign, but will often keep going once I’ve decided it’s clear).

Another reason why I recommend helmets is that I feel like they signify to car drivers that the biker is more serious about her safety.


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