Biking Courtesy

It is exciting to see more cyclists on the road in the San Antonio area, but increasing numbers of bicycles on the road means we need to work at sharing the road safely with motor vehicles and bicycles. So I thought this would be a good time to refresh and highlight some safety items that can be helpful to everyone. You often hear people say that bicycles are legal vehicles and bicyclists should obey the rules of the road. But what exactly does that mean? 

First, bicycles ARE legal vehicles in Texas and all of the other states and riders should obey all traffic rules just as if they were driving a car. That includes riding in the same direction as the flow of traffic, stopping at all stop signs and red lights, not riding on sidewalks, etc. But it should not stop there. As cyclists we should give directional (turn) signals, not only for the benefit of motor vehicles but also for other cyclists. Letting others know where we are and where we intend to go is the courteous thing to do and can also prevent accidents. An example is calling out “on your left” as you are about to pass another cyclist. Other considerations in group riding, especially if you are in a large group, include calling out obstacles in and around the road like gravel, potholes, etc. A very important call-out is “car back” and “car up,” which keeps other riders in the group informed about possible traffic conflicts. Other helpful call-outs are letting others know that you are slowing down or coming to a stop. And, when you do that, pulling over to the far right will allow other cyclists to pass safely without swerving into oncoming traffic. Also, never block the traffic lane when you stop.

There are enough issues between vehicles and cyclists that we need to, at the very least, be more courteous to motor vehicle operators and cyclists. One sore point for vehicle drivers and other cyclists is when a group is riding two or more abreast. While many Texas roads are perfect for riding side-by-side, when other cyclists and vehicles come up behind us, we should show some common courtesy and go single file. State law says we can ride two-abreast only if we do not obstruct traffic. We expect motorists to pass with at least three feet clearance, and we need to cooperate by staying to the right side of the road. However, the law allows you move to the left to avoid obstacles and debris – just make sure it is safe to do so before moving to the left. Sharing the road is a matter of common sense for motorists and cyclists.

One of the challenges of being aware of what is going on around and behind you is to learn to turn your head without turning your bike. As we have all experienced, where you look is generally where your bike goes. To prevent your bike from swerving requires a little practice, especially for those who are new to cycling. If you are uncomfortable looking behind, it may be better to invest in a mirror. You can see the SA Wheelmen helmet mirror on our website, , under Merchandise. And please, keep yourself and others safe by not wearing headphones, iPods, etc. You cannot adequately hear what is going on around you if you are listening to music. Enjoy the sights and sounds that a great ride can bring! Just be safe while enjoying your  ride.

--JD Simpson