The Dos and Don’ts of Urban Biking


Mountain Bike in the City

Whether you’re bumping along single-track in open space or cruising in the bike lane, there is certain etiquette to what we do. If you’ve ever been honked at, flipped off, or yelled at, either you’re doing it wrong or the other guy (or gal) is just a jerk.

Clothes Don’t Make the Man
Do: Of course you should dress for comfort and performance. Those padded spandex shorts are more comfortable on the rear end and feel awesome. A nice tight fitting jersey won’t flap in the wind, and those click-in shoes definitely add power to your stroke.

Don’t: Wear a black hoodie and headphones. It’s part of your style, we get it. But nobody can see you and when you’re slow pedaling to the smooth cooings of Barry White, you won’t hear when folks need to pass—or when vehicles are looming.

A Passing Fad
Do: Always, at least, attempt to pass on the left, just like you do in your car. Sometimes you have a drunken dog-walker ambling all over the path, but do what you can. Also, as we all do, shout out a warning as you approach like, “On your left.” This is much preferable than “Get the #&^% out of my way.”

Don’t: Don’t think stealth is your friend. Sure, sometimes that drunken dog walker jumps erratically in your path no matter which side you announce you’re on, but at least you’re giving them a chance to get it right. Whizzing by gets the danger over quicker, and we must admit, it is fun to watch the old coot jump. But it’s dangerous and rude. Unless you’re faced with walkers wearing ear buds – they’re completely oblivious to you anyway so go ahead and whiz by and scare the heck out of them.

Wave, Nod, or Grunt
Do: Motorcyclists have acknowledged one another for years with a wave or a nod. When approaching head-on, always wave a finger, nod your head, or even grunt a greeting. Just like motorcyclists, we are all in this together with the same struggles, dangers, and jerks to overcome.

Don’t: Don’t ignore other riders like you’re too cool for school. You never know when that hippie in the tank-top riding the old beat-up Schwinn (which so happens to be me) could be the guy who helps you when your $6,000 ride breaks down.

Help a Brother OutHelping Cyclist
Do: Whenever possible, lend a hand. If someone is broken down, at least slow down and pretend to care. Sometimes they just need some air in a tire to get them home. Sometimes they just need your wrench to tighten a nut. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. If they’re a pain, you can always ride off, they’re broken down anyway.

Don’t: Just smile, giggle, or smirk as you blow by someone in distress. As they say, karma is a b****. 

Lock It Up
Do: Always lock your ride if you are leaving it unattended. It’s not that the rest of us really care if you lose your $5,000 bike. Heck, if you’re dumb enough to leave it unattended, even for a few seconds, maybe you deserve to lose it. Also it’s a good idea to register your ride with project529 to alert the cycling community it’s been stolen. 

Don’t: If someone offers you a screaming deal on a nice bike, think twice. If there were no market for hot products, there would be no theft. Never buy something that may be stolen or the next one may be yours. 

By Michael Ryan