Pulling your bike out of its winter resting place is one of the first steps you can take to begin enjoying the beautiful spring weather. But riding your bike alongside cars, walkers and anything else on the road can be a stressful task. Here are some important rules and advice to help ensure your safety.
Signal your moves
Let the people around you know what you are doing. Drivers use their blinker or brake lights to communicate with other drivers around them, but as a bicycle rider it is up to you to show your intentions with your hands.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a flyer that tells you exactly how to signal your turns.
“Look over your shoulder and make sure there's no one coming from behind you,” says Lawrence Simonson, chief strategy officer for the PedNet Coalition, a local nonprofit organization working to make the community "walkable, bikeable and accessible" through public transit.
If you decide to take a trail or path instead of riding on the road and there are walkers in front of you, make sure you call out “on your left!” so they are able to get out of your way.
Come to a stop
It is required by Missouri law that cyclists stop at every stop sign while riding through town.
REI advises that you keep a safe distance between you, other cyclists and vehicles as you are riding. It’s almost the same as driving a car. The faster you are going the more space you should put between you and other vehicles or bikes.
When you’re riding along, try not to ride on sidewalks unless there is no other safe option. Vehicles crossing intersections, leaving driveways or coming out of alleys might not be watching for a fast cyclist on a sidewalk.
Unless there is a bike lane, don't come up next to vehicles to try and pass them on the right. This is against Missouri law.
It's the same with cyclists — don't try to pass other cyclists on the right.
Watch your speed
Simonson says that if you are commuting to work, take your time and do what feels comfortable. Many people assume that they need to ride really hard or go really fast, but that’s not the case at all.
As for how to keep from sweating, Simonson advises two things. One, dress appropriately for the weather, and second, just go slower.
Be visible & be predictable
The biggest thing you can do is be predictable.
“Never ever trust a driver — always be aware,” says Emmett Ferguson, an MU student whose typical go-to is biking to class instead of driving or walking. He makes sure that people see him, whether that’s through making eye contact, making a noise or a movement.
In the end, always do what’s best for you.