Rules of Cycling

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Follow the Rules of Cycling

While you should check your local road rules (here is a list of helmet laws throughout the United States) for specific rules of cycling in your area, there are some biking road rules that always apply when biking on the road. By being a safe and smart cyclist you will prevent accidents and make it easier for cars and cyclists to drive together on the road.

Main Biking Rules

Tip: Don't take anything for granted

Don't assume you can predict other road-users' actions with any accuracy! The most deadly flaw a cyclist can possibly have is a misplaced sense of confidence.

Don't ever assume that other motorists or cyclists will abide by traffic laws and good common sense like you do - they might not acknowledge your right of way or signal before changing lanes. Always stay alert so you'll have time to react to unforeseen circumstances.

  • Wear a good bicycle helmet - Most jurisdictions require you to wear a helmet and you can actually be fined if you don't wear one.
  • Never ride against traffic - Ride on the right side of the road (unless you are cycling in the UK, Japan or in any other "left-side-driving" country).
  • Use bike lanes and designated bike routes whenever you can.
  • Be wary of parked vehicles. Hazards include kids, animals and car doors opening.
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights.
  • Ride in single file on the street (not the sidewalk) when riding in a group.
  • Always pass left or right according to the local driving side, just like a car does, when passing other cyclists. Always let another cyclist know you're doing so by saying, "On your left!"
  • Use hand and arm signals when turning or stopping. Your left arm straight out means left, left arm upright "L" (or right arm straight out) means right and upside-down "L" means stop. This helps other traffic predict your movements.
  • When riding at night always use bicycle reflectors and a rear bicycle lights.

Biking Road Rules from the Driver Point of View

The Bicycle Countermeasure Selection System ( BIKESAFE ) makes a great point about cycling on streets where cars are required to drive more slowly.

A vehicle going at a higher speed is less likely to slow down or stop in time and can cause more serious accidents. By choosing side streets or paths that are away from the epicenter of traffic you'll be much more comfortable.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ( NHTSA ) claims that 46,000 cyclists were injured in 2003. Many governments, such as the state of Oregon, are implementing infrastructure grants to create safe cycling paths and provide more information for cyclists ride safely around busier city centers.


You can also visit Bicycle Safety, BIKESAFE and NHTSA for a number of good articles on biking rules, pedestrian safety and biking road rules.

Rules of Cycling on YouTube

Armed with the basics, you'll be well on your way to riding your bike safely and securely.

"The sound of a car door opening in front of you is similar to the sound of a gun being cocked.".
Amy Webster

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