While the act of riding a bicycle is fairly simple, the rules of the road can sometimes be a bit more confusing.
In order to clarify some of that gray area, we’ve created a short guide so you can put the etiquette into practice.
To be clear, these are 10 things cyclists should never, ever do:
1. PROMOTE AN ELITIST CULTURE
You’ve seen these people before. They sneer at other cyclists, yell at motorists and think pedestrians should cease to exist. Whether you’re a road cyclist or a mountain biker, the only way to encourage others to take up the sport is to make them feel welcomed and encouraged. Acting like the road is your own personal raceway and everyone else is an obstacle just gives all cyclists a bad name.
The next time you’re out on the road and see a fellow cyclist, wave and say hello. Taking your eyes off your data, believe it or not, isn’t going to result in the end of the world.
2. WHEEL SUCKER STRANGERS
So you’re cruising along, minding your own business on the way home from work, when suddenly a shadow approaches from the rear. You move to the right, then to the left and the shadow follows. When you turn to look over your shoulder, there sits the wheel sucker in your draft — head down, eyes forward, with a serious-looking grimace. No introduction, no “how are you.”
Don’t be that guy. Riding up behind another cyclist without introducing yourself or taking your turn at the front is just weird.
3. DISOBEY TRAFFIC LAWS
Yes, there will be times when you’re sitting at a red light all by yourself without a car in sight. There will also be moments when you’re about to break a course record, and all of a sudden a stop sign appears out of nowhere. Regardless of what you’d like to do, you should not ride through that red light or stop sign.
Disobeying traffic laws isn’t just dangerous; it gives motorists the fuel they need to act abusively and irrationally toward other cyclists on the road.
4. RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK
There are some cyclists who think they are safer riding on the sidewalk. Regardless of which end of this argument you may agree with, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal in most states. Sidewalks are intended for pedestrian use, and if you don’t want them walking in bike lanes, it’s best to return the favor and stay off their sidewalks.
READ MORE > 35 SIGNS YOU’RE A CYCLIST
5. RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET
Do helmets look cool? No, not really. But you know what’s way less cool than a helmet? That’s right, a head injury. No matter how short or long you plan to go, you should always wear a helmet. It could make the difference between a simple spill and an overnight stay at the hospital.
6. TIGHTEN BOLTS ON CARBON PARTS WITHOUT A TORQUE WRENCH
If you think a bolt can never be too tight, this advice is for you. All carbon parts on your bicycle have torque specifications that you must adhere to. If you tighten past these recommendations, you’ll likely cause damage that can’t be repaired — whether it be a handlebar, seat post or even your bike frame.
The good news is torque wrenches are pretty inexpensive, not much more than your standard set of Allen wrenches.
7. TURN THE COMMUTE HOME INTO A RACE
Getting “chicked” can make some men go mad. But really, whatever it is that causes you to go bonkers when you’re passed by another cyclist, take it easy, stallion. Not every ride is a race, even if you are a racer at heart. Stick to the training plan, and let other cyclists on the road do their own thing. That Gran Fondo or century ride isn’t too far away.
8. RIDE AT NIGHT WITHOUT BIKE LIGHTS
I know. I really like those old ninja movies, too. But riding at night without bike lights isn’t the time to mimic your heroes. And in most states, riding with lights is a legal requirement between sunset and sunrise.
9. BE UNPREPARED FOR A MECHANICAL FAILURE
Even if you usually ride in a group, there will come a day when you jump on the bike and everything goes wrong. A flat tire, a loose screw on your handlebar and a broken chain are just a few of the things that you’ll need to be prepared for and know how to fix.
Instead of always relying on others, check out this video (and maybe this one, too) to learn how to do basic repairs yourself.
10. GO CHEAP ON YOUR CYCLING SHORTS
Cycling-specific clothing is expensive. But one item you definitely don’t want to skimp on is your cycling shorts. A good chamois is worth its weight in gold, especially if you plan to spend more than an hour on the bike.
Instead of getting multiple pairs of cheaper options, buy one or two pairs of quality cycling shorts. Chances are they’ll last a lot longer than all your cheaper pairs combined, and they will be much more comfortable on those sensitive spots when you do decide to go long.