Illustration by Tori Deutch

Illustration by Tori Deutch

Whether you’re biking 4 miles around Gainesville or 4,000 miles cross-country, there are basic rules of the road that everyone should know — and follow. This is a basic guide to safe riding for all sorts of riders: the daily commuter, the downtown-only rider, the avid cyclist, the roadie, the tourer or whatever type you may be. No matter what kind of rider, you’ve gotta be safe and know your rights!

Use Your Hands

Signaling when you turn and stop is the simplest, easiest way to let other riders, cars and pedestrians know what you are doing on the road. In lieu of lights, use your hands! Don’t be afraid to talk to fellow riders as you pass them. Shout “on your left” or “on your right” as you pass with a friendly nod or wave.

Left
RIGHT
STOP

Left, right and slow/stop — by Brittany Evans

Don’t forget! Is another cyclist speeding toward you from the right? A runner about to cross your path? Will that squirrel stay in the middle of the road or dart back to the tree on your left at the last second? It’s a dangerous world out there for cyclists, so stay aware!

On the Road

For all the times you have heard “get on the sidewalk,” I will tell you a million times more that you are allowed to ride on the road. Repeat: Bicycles belong on the road. In fact, part one of Florida Statutes Section 316.2065 considers cyclists to be persons “propelling a vehicle by human power.” Do not ride on the sidewalk unless you feel it is necessary (i.e. for safety). If you do ride on the sidewalk, pedestrians get the right of way.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.06.55 PM

Why ride on the road?

+ Fewer pedestrians.

+ Better visibility for other riders and cars.

+ Some roads have lanes just for bikes.

+ More room to navigate.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.07.00 PMTake the Lane

Now that you’re on the road, you might find that it doesn’t even have a bike lane–or if it has one, it’s in bad condition. If so, you can legally take the full lane. That’s right, you and your sanctioned 3 feet of glory can take the entire car lane.

So what makes a bad bike lane?

There are any obstructions in it, including animals, debris, glass, pedestrians, or cars (this one could turn into you getting whacked by someone opening their door).

+ Not enough room for a car to pass you while maintaining at least 3 feet of clearance 

You can also take the lane to:

+ Make a left turn + Pass another rider

+ Avoid conflict with other cars