Good Bike Manners

With the roads as busy as they are, we bicyclists need to look out for each other. A big part of that is riding safely around other bicyclists. There are a few simple things we can do to all get along a little better, keeping in mind that we're all in the same community of bicyclists and should be just as mindful of other bikers as we are of automobiles and pedestrians. Some common problems are:

  • Passing Too Closely: Some of us are faster, some are slower. No matter what kind of biker you are, it's always a nerve-racking experience to have a fellow bicyclist blow past you with only inches between handlebars. Just like if you are in a car, please be sure to give plenty of passing distance.

  • Leapfrogging: Have you ever been stopped at a light and had a biker that you KNOW is slower than you run the light? Not only is it illegal, it's annoying and dangerous once you (usually quickly) catch up to the person and have to enter traffic to pass. And this can happen multiple times if there is a street with several red lights. Yet another reason why bicyclists should ALWAYS stop at red lights.

  • Riding too closely: While drafting works for the pros, it doesn't work on the daily commute. Riding too closely behind another bicyclist can make them nervous and may not leave enough time for you to stop. Keep some space and then pass when it's safe.

  • Passing Without Warning: Though it's not required by law, it's really nice to give a bell ding or "Passing on the left" if you are going to overtake a bicyclist. This lets people know that they need to keep a straight line to allow passing, making biking safer for everyone.

This kind of courtesy is going to become increasingly important as there are more bicyclists on the streets. Infrastructure can help, but nothing beats common sense and etiquette. Between 2007 and 2009, biking in the City of Boston more than doubled. At Massbike, we constantly offer classes to spread the word about good riding practice. Remember to watch out for your fellow bicyclists and ride safe.

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