PSA: Cycling in the City

Now that the warm weather has finally arrived, and we’ve survived the gauntlet that is Bike to Work Week, it’s clearly time for my yearly Public Service Announcement for cycling in the city.  These are listed in no particular order…and completely off the cuff based on what I’ve seen in the last week alone.

Most of these aren’t hard and fast rules — though some of them should be — but they are the sorts of things that will generally help you avoid being considered that asshole on the bike path. No guarantees though.

Lighting and Visibility

  1. If it’s dark, use lights.
  2. When using lights, don’t set them to blink. If you wonder why I say this, set your light to blink, stand in front of a mirror, and aim it at your reflection.
  3. There are two kinds of bicycle lights: those that allow you to be seen and those that allow you to see. Know the difference.
  4. Aim your red tail light horizontally, or just slightly below horizontal–but never above horizontal.
  5. Aim your white head light just below horizontal, or further down, so that the beam spreads out on the road without blinding oncoming traffic.
  6. Reflectors and reflective tape aren’t a bad idea, but they aren’t lights either.

Traffic Operations

  1. When passing, announce your presence — but don’t be a dick about it.
  2. Don’t expect either other cyclists or pedestrians to hear you announce your presence–or care.
  3. Don’t be a fish: no shoaling or salmoning.
  4. Do be a human: wave, smile, and say hello now and again — even if you are a lycra-clad roadie.
  5. Make room for others at congested intersections by moving forward.
  6. Don’t draft behind riders you don’t know. Ever.
  7. Do your best to hold to a predictable line of travel.
  8. Wait until you’re off the bike path for aerobars, time trials, racing, and other lycra-clad antics.
  9. If you can’t track-stand without moving forward and back and side to side, just put a foot down. It’s ok, really.
  10. If you drop something, stop (carefully) and pick it up.


  1. Wear some. Whatever works best.
  2. Pull up your shorts/pants. No one wants to see your ass-crack. Really.
  3. If you wear lycra shorts, buy a new pair once in a while. Lycra gets thin–and eventually transparent–with repeated use and washings. Again, the ass-crack (or more…).
  4. There are better shoes for riding than flip-flops. Ever lose a toenail the hard way?

 Your Bicycle

  1. Your bike is a good bike.
  2. If it starts squeaking, lubricate it (except for brake pads).
  3. If it’s loose, tighten it.
  4. Check your tire pressure once in a while. Inflate to about 80 percent of maximum.
  5. If your brakes start to rub, don’t just unhook them. Fix the problem, or enlist someone else who can. Stopping is good, and also necessary.

2 thoughts on “PSA: Cycling in the City

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