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