Tips for People Who Bike

To get from COMPETE streets to COMPLETE streets, half of the equation is attitude!

We Love You, But…

Yes you are doing your part to save the earth and integrate exercise in your daily life. That is absolutely awesome, we love it, we support you, we want more people to bike.  But, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you want to be treated with respect as a vehicle on the road, you need to act like a vehicle on the road
  • Just because you can see them, doesn’t mean they can see you

So why the tongue lashing? Well, everytime we go out to advocate for new bike facilities the main thing we hear is “those damn bicyclists break the law all the time, why should they get rewarded? They should be ticketed.” And even if that doesn’t bother you this should – bicyclists tend to be at fault in the majority of crashes with automobiles. So think of this as a little tough love. A little knowledge makes traveling by bike even more awesome because you get to keep on bicycling.

Traffic Tips from the Invisible Man

I travel amongst you undetected – this is my superpower. For all of you cosplay amateur hacks bicycling to the local Comic Con Convention, I have wisdom to impart.

What Every Michigan Bicyclist Must Know

This is the ultimate go-to information source for all things about bicycling in Michigan. A must have.

Biking in the Street

It’s The Place to be Seen

  • Play Nice with the Cars

    There are times to take the lane: 1) if there is no safe way for a motorist to pass you; 2) if you need to avoid debris; or 3) when you are getting into the appropriate turn or through lane. Otherwise stay to the right, don’t hog the road unnecessarily and ride no more than two abreast.

  • Pointing Helps

    Research has shown that motorists, pedestrians and other bicyclists can’t read your mind. So simply stick your arm out the direction you planning on turning. Your turn signal is not just for the benefit of others, it may help you avoid a crash. Older bicyclists, please remember to stop signaling after completing the turn.

  • Go With the Flow

    I don’t care what your dad taught you, bike with the flow of traffic (BTW that’s the law). Motorists simply are not looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road, they are focused where a car might be traveling. This is especially the case when they are making turns. Pretty simple – be seen, if you don’t want to be hit.

  • Stay Out of the Parking Lane

    Slalom riding was a blast when you were a kid but skip it downtown.  Simply ride in a straight line past the open parking spots so motorists behind you can always see you.

  • Doors Happen

    Sooner or later some joker is going to open their car door into the road a split second before you ride by. Hitting a fixed steel object topped by glass at full speed is generally not considered a pleasant experience, it can even be a fatal one. Cars don’t drive in the door zone and you should not bike in it.

  • Careful With The Left Turns

    Most of the time turning left just like a car does works just fine – find a gap in traffic, signal and move over. Other times, there may just be too much traffic to do this safely. If that’s the case, simply keep to the right and wait for a suitable gap in traffic. If there is a crosswalk handy you can use that, but be careful merging back in with traffic.

  • Size Matters

    Let’s face facts, if you’re not packing two tons of shiny steel and glass it can be hard to get people’s attention. So you’re going to need to get creative to compensate. Headlights and taillights are proven winners. Put them into flashing mode and I tell ya, people are going to notice. And here is a pro-tip – you can use car’s headlights to your advantage with some reflective materials.

Biking on the Sidewalk

If You Insist, Be Careful

  • A Time and Place for Everything

    We get it, not everyone is going to ride on a busy road even it there is a bike lane. Perhaps it’s night and the batteries on your lights went out. Maybe the snow and slush are really deep. Could be your age, your abilities, whatever – you are just not comfortable biking with traffic. That’s cool – but biking on the sidewalk has its own hazards and we are talking about some serious hazards. They may not be obvious a riding in the road, but biking on the sidewalk is often more dangerous than bicycling in the road. So heads up when riding on the sidewalk – you still need to be on your A game.

  • Watch for Cars Pulling Out

    Most bicyclists were simply riding straight on the sidewalk or sidepath before they got hit at a side street or driveway. Motorists, sadly, are just are not looking for cyclists on the sidewalk. So look out for cars turning out of driveways and intersecting streets. And if you do bike on the sidewalk, at least travel with the flow of traffic – it increases your chances of being seen.

  • Watch for Cars Turning In

    At every side street and driveway you cross you also have to account for vehicles turning into that the side street or driveway. This requires that you look to not just the traffic ahead of you but also the traffic behind you.

  • Its Called a Sidewalk for a Reason

    It where people WALK. And when you bicycle on the sidewalk you are a safety threat to people who walk. A bicycle hitting a pedestrian is a big deal – you can seriously injure them. Don’t assume they hear you coming up behind them. Expect pedestrians will be startled when you ride by unannounced. It’s common courtesy to slow down and alert pedestrians with a gentle ring of your bell or a friendly “passing on your left.” And expect little kids to do unexpected things because that’s just what little kids do.

  • Be Careful at Crosswalks

    Yes you have the same rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk but don’t expect that a motorist is going to see you approaching a crosswalk at speed. Take it easy at crosswalks and remember you need to wait for traffic to clear before crossing at a midblock crosswalk.

  • That Asking a Lot!

    Agreed, you would think that riding on the sidewalk would not be that complicated, but it is. And if you were paying attention you may have noticed that most of the issues that were mentioned have to do with motorists not seeing bicyclists on the sidewalk. Now perhaps you can understand why bicycling in the road is really not such a crazy idea after all.