10 Rules For Urban Commuting

Josh King in his commuter armor Josh King lives in Seattle, where he commutes by bike every day, rain or shine. Earlier this year he switched to full-time single speed commuting; you can read his thoughts on going gearless at www.singlespeedseattle.com

My commute through Seattle’s Capitol Hill and into the heart of downtown takes me through a maze of cars, pedestrians, and well-intentioned but not always well-thought-out nods to cyclists. But in this chaos lies the beauty of riding to work every day: It is simultaneously a workout, a mental challenge and, quite possibly, the most efficient way to get to work. But it’s not the same as riding on a placid trail somewhere, blissing out to the iPod. It’s not even like a fast group ride on a country road. It requires both heightened attention and a willingness to forget many of the “rules” of cycling. In their place, here are 10 things I’ve learned about daily commuting in the city:

  1. Obeying traffic rules is not your first priority. There are traffic rules aplenty to deal with in urban riding – street lights, stop signs, one way streets, construction zones, bus lanes, etc. Obeying these rules is all well and good, but priority number one is staying safe. I will unapologetically admit to breaking at least a half-dozen traffic rules each way, every day. Roll through stop signs? You bet. Run red lights. Check. Disobey the “Construction – street closed” signs that have been blocking my route home for the last month. Absolutely. You see, while traffic rules have a certain logic, they are built around cars, not bikes. A moving bike is a safer bike, as momentum allows you to skirt obstacles and avoid danger from any direction. Sitting motionless in the road at a stop sign or light, a cyclist is at his or her most vulnerable. Better, then, to slow down, look carefully and keep moving if the way is clear. The idea is to be critical, to not slavishly accept and obey the traffic rules just because they are there. Recognize that your safety comes first.
  2. Don’t pay attention to bike lanes. Hell, nobody else in the city does. I routinely encounter buses, double-parked cars, delivery vans, wrong-way skateboarders and inebriated pedestrians blocking bike lanes. Always be prepared to take the lane. Plus, many bike lanes put you solidly in the “door zone” when you’re anywhere on the inner two-thirds of the lane. That’s not much of a problem when traveling uphill, but a major issue on downhill bike lanes. Always take the lane – not the bike lane, the whole damn thing – when traveling downhill.
  3. Better aggressive than meek. While stupidly aggressive riding is problematic and dangerous, overly-cautious riding is also a problem. Riders who are afraid to assert themselves in traffic are a danger to themselves and other riders. Seeking refuge from traffic, they ride too close to the curb, where the pavement sucks, junk abides and car doors and pedestrians are apt to strike at any moment.. They give up their precious momentum when moments of indecision strike, cutting back on their options and imperiling riders behind them. Riders new to city streets should accept their trepidation and actively work to overcome it. As this study about traffic deaths among London cyclists found, an abundance of caution in riding is not a benefit.
  4. Pacelines are very bad. Riding on someone’s wheel is fine when you’re spinning out in the country, but not so good in the city. You’ve got no idea whether they’re a confident rider, or if they’re going to suddenly brake because someone’s puppy gets too close to the curb. Be cautious of other riders and give them a wide berth, particularly if they look skitterish or cautious.
  5. Variety is not the spice of life. Save the mixing it up for whatever else you like to do for fun. You’re riding a bike to and from work for chrissakes, isn’t that fun enough. You don’t need to alter your route just to add variety. Knowing your route – every pothole, blind right turn and nasty intersection of it – is critical to riding safely. Be predictable in your riding and your route. Get a tattoo or something if your route isn’t exciting enough.
  6. Don’t signal. Look, let’s be honest here – most bike riders don’t know what a right-hand turn signal looks like, let alone drivers.. Signaling is just not going to be useful most of the time, and engaging in the pointless pursuit means taking one hand off your handlebars. I’ll start signaling when I get nice smooth streets, but until then I’m keeping both hands on the grips.. Go ahead and signal if it’s helpful to a driver and you can do it safely, but dispense with that dumb-ass right turn signal nonsense. Just point where you’re going.
  7. Don’t stand on your rights.Yeah, you’ve got a bike lane, or the right-of-way, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. The laws of physics trump all traffic rules. A bus is entering the bike lane to meet a stop right ahead of you. Don’t try to pass in the bike lane. Ditto for drivers making right turns, clueless pedestrians and lost dogs. Ride like your life is on the line. Do what’s safest and most predictable to others in the road, even if that means giving up “your” lane
    or, God forbid, stopping.
  8. Take the lane. This is a key skill for all urban riders. Visibility and safety demand that you be able to take the lane any time. If circumstances feel the least bit dodgy, take the lane. It may piss drivers off, but better a honk than getting doored or run over. This is particularly true when it’s not fully safe for a driver to pass you with enough clearance. If there’s any doubt, don’t tempt drivers to pass you – take the lane and block them, even (especially?) if they honk.
  9. Don’t be a right-winger. I see this all the time. cyclists waiting at a red light, hanging at the right corner. Or passing traffic through a green light, on the right. Dumb, dumb, dumb. This is the number one way to get hit when riding in the city. The cars won’t see you as they’re trying to turn right, and they’ll plow right into you or pull across you when you don’t have time to stop. This is why cities like Portland have installed so many bike boxes. The safest place to be at a red light is at the front of the line of traffic. Failing that, take the lane and take your turn with the cars. Jus
    t don’t think you should use the right lane when going through intersection.
  10. Wear a helmet, stupid. I seem to see more helmets in Seattle than in Manhattan, where wearing one must be against the law. But still – too many fixie hipsters and other too-cool types are cruising around with helmets. I like that as much as the next guy when cruising on the beach or a resort bike trail somewhere, but the city is HARD. There’s lots of stuff that will jump up and bite you, and a crack in the pavement or an errant car door can smack your head before you know it. It’s too high a price to pay for fashion, and besides – there are lots of cool bike helmets starting to hit the market.

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95 thoughts on “10 Rules For Urban Commuting”

  1. darren says:

    11. Don’t call people stupid for not wearing a helmet, for whatever reason. I had a helmet stolen, and it took me a couple of days to get a bike store to get a replacement. Should I have not ridden in the interim? Giving in to fear like that would have been stupid.

  2. Justin says:

    This is a terrible list.

    Please rename it: “Most of the reasons pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers cannot stand cyclists in urban areas.”

  3. Murali says:

    1. Incorrect
    2. Correct
    3. Correct
    4. Correct
    5. Correct
    6. Incorrect
    7. Correct
    8. Correct
    9. Correct
    10. Incorrect

    Your score: 70%
    Not bad.

  4. Ted Johnson says:


    Josh can speak for himself, but I took his use of “stupid” to be in the vein of, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Meaning, “It’s a priority.”

    You must get that, because you replaced your helmet within a couple of days.

  5. matt says:

    couldn’t resist a leftie swipe, could you…

  6. Josh King says:

    That’s right, Ted. While there will always be exceptions (like Darren’s) where you need to ride sans helmet, my point has to do with those who regularly ride without one.

  7. b says:

    oh Justin, most pedestrians don’t care about cyclists. And the reason some drivers hate cyclists is because we’re in their way. If every cyclist obeyed every traffic law they would hate us even more.

  8. Justin says:

    I am a pedestrian and a driver and a cyclist. I loathe walking around and having cyclists nearly hit me because I am crossing the street and they are following your rules instead of traffic rules. Ditto for when I’m driving.

    I signal a lot and get thanked on a daily basis for doing so by drivers. Same with stop signs.

    Traffic rules need reworked but being a crappy cyclist isn’t going toconvinve anyone to do so.

    – Justin

  9. Jack says:

    Justin-I’m afraid you are right.

    Don’t forget it isn’t cyclists v. motorists etc.

    They are us, and we are them.

    People can be dumb. Doesn’t matter the mode of transportation.

    Safe riding!

  10. Simon says:

    I agree with most of you points, though not necessarliy the way you make them. I think your fist rule would be better worded “Avoid a collision at all costs”, this is the first rule of sailing in australia (where i live) and i apply it to cycling as well. If a light changes to orange and i have room i’ll stop for it, unless i hear a vehicle step on the gas behind me, rather than looking behind to see if i’m about to be rear ended i’ll check the intersection is clear and go on through. Ignoring red lights/stop signs/pedestrian zones/construction zones or other traffic rules simply because they’re inconveniant is silly and leads drivers having low(er) opinions of cyclists.

  11. Bryan says:

    I disagree with 1 and 6, at least in a city like Atlanta where I commute to work by bike. Car commuters here are not all that accustomed to cyclists on the road because we don’t have as high of a percentage of bike commuters as a lot of other cities (it’s getting better ). I feel that when you are riding along side motorist who are potentially skittish because you are on the road with them the best you can do to ensure your safety is to be predictable and courteous.

    Hand signals help take away the surprise when you need to take the lane or when you are making a turn. It let’s the driver behind you know that you are making a left turn at the light a block ahead and so therefore they should not try to overtake you on the left at this time.

    Obeying traffic laws is, well, the law. For any driver that knows anything about the bicycling laws, they also know when we’re breaking them and it pisses them off when we do. If they don’t know the laws, we are likely pissing them off by breaking themtoo : when we bomb through intersections, don’t stay in the queue at a stoplight – moving to the front instead. Passing every car in the queue says to these drivers, “I am willing to slow you all down” (even if it really doesn’t increase their overall trip time) and makes more enemies for all cyclists. We all look the same to most drivers and so every time you break the law and tick a driver off, it increases their likelihood of acting aggressively or at least erratically around the next cyclist that they see… and that could be me.

    I agree that safety is your primary concern on the road, I just don’t believe your rationale of the safety attributes on these two points holds together, at least not in my experience here in Atlanta. Maybe it’s different in Seattle.

  12. Clu says:

    This is wrong on so many levels. These are the kinds of atitudes that give good bicyclists a bad name. At least you are right about wearing a helmet.

  13. Euan says:

    Right, so the Dutch are stupid, the Danes are stupid; two countries with the safest cycling, driving and walking in the world?

    Helmets are nowhere near as useful as you think they are. That’s a fact, not a matter of faith. I found this out when challenged to prove the case for mandatory helmet laws here in Australia.

    To prove a case you have to research both sides of the argument; if you can’t find good reason why helmets shouldn’t be worn, case proven.

    I didn’t succeed.

  14. Rusty Wright says:

    In item 10 you say “But still – too many fixie hipsters and other too-cool types are cruising around with helmets.” Did you mean WITHOUT HELMETS?

  15. Surly Dave says:

    think encouraging cyclists to disobey road rules when it suits them is counterproductive. It endangers people and it wins us no friends.

    The best set of tips I’ve ever seen for urban cyclists is here:


  16. Oran says:

    I think many of you are ignoring the main thought here. Riding in traffic is not about being polite, correct or lawful. It’s about survival and your first thought in any situation should be “How can I survive this?” not “What’s legal and won’t piss people off?” Considering the latter in a split second situation can and will get you killed. Josh is advocating riding smart and legal and in that exact order.

  17. Damien says:

    Very interesting list!

    As someone who drives a very small scooter and a bicycle as my modes of transportation, I feel torn about the “waiting at stop signs / traffic lights” scenario. My tiny scooter moves faster, but it’s not much more visible at a traffic light than my bike. And I most definitely wouldn’t breeze through a red light on my scooter. To each his own, I suppose.

    If I come to an all-way stop sign, I stop and wait my turn. I’ve actually gotten compliments for doing so. I had a driver scare the devil out of me the other day when he honked his horn behind me. I turned around and he leaned out and thanked me for A.) wearing a helmet and B.) waiting my turn because his daughter was in the backseat and he thought I was setting a good example. This totally surprised me!

    I had to admit, it seems to rightfully annoy people when bicyclists disobey laws. However, a lot of drivers seem to love it when bicyclists are polite. I can’t explain it and your data may be correct. But it just doesn’t feel right to be disrespectful to the car/motorcycle drivers, and then turn around and expect them to respect me.

  18. Whow, cycling outside of the Boulder cycling paradise is very different than it is here from reading this and the comments to go with it. This probably falls in my 10 ten stupidest articles for the year! I think I only agreed with like 2 or 3 and the others I strongly oppose.

  19. jdc says:

    Thats the same 10 rules that I lived by while commuting in a large city. It was interesting to see them voiced by someone else. One of the other employees here at the shop is overly anal about riding by the rules of the “automotive” road. Is it any wonder he’s a pile of nerves? He has close calls all of the time because he creates them himself.

  20. jdc says:

    I should clarify that I’m not supporting a vigilante method of cycling, by any means. I feel that it may sometimes be necessary to adjust cycling habits in order to remain safe in a given situation. Following the rules of the road in order to be a “responsible cyclist” may one day get you killed. We see more accident aftermaths at our shop that are owned by “cyclists” than we do by “bike riders”.

  21. Jugomugo says:

    As someone who actually rides in a city on a daily basis, I thought this list was spot on.

    In an ideal world, where everything if fluffy kittens and rainbows, everyone would follow the law. But they don’t. Rule number one is keep yourself safe. If that means breaking the law, then so be it. I ride courteously, safely, and defensively. Sometimes this means breaking the law.

  22. Ryan says:

    #1 – Disagree completely.
    #2 – Disagree
    #3 – Mildly agree
    #4 – Indifferent
    #5 – Disagree, I like to change things up.

    #6 – I disagree. Over the past year I always signal when vehicles or pedestrians are around and they appreciate the fact I do so.

    #7 – I agree.
    #8 – Sort of agree, but too many cyclists abuse this

    #9 – Agree. Unless traffic is backed up 8+ cars and no bike lane I never pass.

    #10 – Can’t say how much I disagree. First off calling or implying people are stupid for not wearing a helmet is what’s truly “stupid”.
    If you think cycling is so dangerous that you need a helmet perhaps driving or walking would be safer for you.
    I’m sick of people who assume I or others don’t wear helmets because they look ugly. Helmets are beyond uncomfortable and have little impact when in a crash. Hit by car? Helmet won’t save you. Fall of your bike? If your like me (and Europe) who travel no faster then 20 km/h you’ll have plenty of time to brace yourself.

  23. Dan says:

    can you add ‘stay off the freakin’ sidewalk’ to the list?

  24. Hippiebrian says:

    Wear a helmet stupid? Do a bit of research before you start calling people stupid. That little piece of styrofoam you put on your noggin is, for the most part, nothing more than a hat. The standards of safety are rediculous (11 mph on a flat fall, less than that on a curb…heck, my head can take more than that!). They are not, nor can they be due to weight and ventilation requirements on a human powered vehicle, motorcycle helmets which are tested at real world speeds and conditions.

    I refuse to give in to the helmet industry and the safety “police” for lack of a better term to put on a useless 40+ dollar hat. There is much evidence to show that in areas where helmets became mandatory, bicycle ridership went down. Anything that would discourage people to ride a bike in a country like ours with horrible obesity rates, poor air quality in many of our cities and more energy used per citizen than any other country is a poor idea.

    Now, in now way am I a “fixie hipster”. I am a 48 year old bicycle commuter. In my 45 years of bicycling I personally have not met one person who got a head injury while bicycling. Other sports yes. I know pedistrians who got head injuries, car drivers and motorcyclists (even with helmets). Now, I have read about a few cyclists who have recieved head injuries, but in reality the numbers are so low that the risk is worth the comfort of not wearing one. Never mind how it makes cycling look. Cycling is, in itself, and inherently safe activity when one pays attention. For the general public who might be considering cycling more to see everyone pedaling around with these helmets makes it look dangerous and, unfortunatelly, the current atmosphere in this country is to avoid any type of risk (thank you lawers and safety nazis).

    Please, in the future, do not call people stupid when they make educated choices which are different than yours. It just makes you look, well, stupid…

  25. peteathome says:

    “A moving bike is a safer bike”? Where do you get this nonsence from?

    Let me ask you this – I live in the Philadelphia area and I can attest that the traffic is worst here than most of the Seattle area traffic. Yet I follow all the basic rules of traffic, such as not running red lights. I position myself by destinationa nd all those basic “VC” techniques. I very seldom have any “close calls” and mostly find my commutes serene and uneventful, and quite enjoyable.

    How are your commutes following your procedures? Are they one close call after another or smooth and peaceful like mine?

  26. Sunny says:

    This post is a joke, right?

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I think your “01”. You can’t (readas: shouldn’t) bike through town using the routes you’d use as a car. Unless you’re in a small town with only 5 roads. The routes I use to go to and from the same places by car and by bike are completely different. Each are optimized for the different needs and infrastructure.

    The trick is experimentation, thinking through intersections and scenarios, and asking other local bikers for their experiences. Having a community of experienced cyclists willing to offer advice on routes to the newbies is vital.

    I believe one of the most important ‘safety tools’ you can have is an appropriate route to your destination. A 2 mile hellish commute can be turned into a fun 3 mile journey through the city.

  28. Chris says:

    this list is really frustrating. item number one sounds like it’s much more about preserving that ‘precious momentum’ than about any real safety measures.

    maybe if you ditched the fixed gear you’d be more concerned with overall safety instead of staying in constant motion

  29. Elizabeth says:

    @Surly Dave

    Sorry, that should have been “I think your “01” is the best.

  30. skigod111 says:

    Wow, what a list. The two times I’ve seen bicyclists hit was when they rolled through a stop sign and tried to run a yellow. AKA, following rule #1.

  31. BluesCat says:

    Josh, you are spot on, ESPECIALLY your rule number 1. For your own safety, you cannot be a slave to traffic rules which were made for motorists, NOT bicyclists.

    One of the most important reasons for this is that a lot of motorists don’t even know what the laws ARE.

    I even ran into a Phoenix police officer who didn’t know that I have as much right to a traffic lane as a motor vehicle! ( Blog post: A Real Jaw Dropper )

    I can’t count the number of times I have been approaching an intersection, riding in the center of the lane of a two-lane road, and had a motorist zoom past me on the left — illegally — and hang a right in front of me just a few feet off of my front wheel.

    There can be only one explanation for this type of behavior, and it is perfectly expressed by the comment made by the cop in the blog post I mentioned earlier: YOU DON’T BELONG OUT THERE ON THE ROAD … PERIOD!

    So, a question for all of you “Letter of the Law” folks: if motorists, even cops, don’t know the laws of the road, and don’t follow them, are you seriously asking bicyclists to put their lives at risk by slavishly obeying them?

    As for helmets, I have only one comment, and it’s the same one I use as a postscript on some forums.

    The Official BluesCat Helmet Use Philosophy –
    People who think their hairdo is more important than their brain might be right.

  32. Hippiebrian says:

    You may add that people who think a bit of styrofoam will protect them in a car/bicycle crash may be disillusioned.

  33. dukiebiddle says:

    “The Official BluesCat Helmet Use Philosophy –
    People who think their hairdo is more important than their brain might be right.”

    It has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with accurate statical analysis.

  34. BluesCat says:

    Uh … dukiebiddle? The Official Philosophy ALSO has nothing to do with vanity and EVERYTHING to do with brains (as in “smart,” “intelligent,” “making sense,” etc.) Think: What Would Your Stereotypical Blonde NOT Do?

  35. John Craine says:

    Wow, this post generated a lot of heat. There’s some good advice here but also some cycling arrogance. Signaling is one of the most important things you can do, to let drivers and other riders know your intent. Yes, unfortunately it does force you to take your hands off the bars which is a real safety concern. However, the greater danger is when you’re not seen by a driver or a driver thinks you’re going to do one thing and you proceed to do the opposite. And forget the right hand turn signal we all learned as kids, just stick your right arm out just as you do your left, everyone understands this.

    As cyclists we can sometimes flaunt the traffic laws to some degree (rolling stops, proceed on red when the coast is clear) but that only works because there aren’t a lot of other bikes on the roads. In Denmark, the Netherlands, China, where there are many more bikes, they must follow the rules or all traffic would come to a stand still.

  36. Bryan says:

    It’s not a coincidence that the few that have posted in favor of breaking cycling and traffic laws are the ones who feel that they must do so to insure their safety. It’s simply cause and effect. You ride more dangerously when you habitually break laws and this introduces and causes more hazards for yourself on the road, which then justifies more law breaking?!?!?

    I still don’t see the logic in that.

    And BluesCat, it doesn’t matter whether motorists know the laws or not. You know them and most of the ones that don’t know them will respect you more for obeying the same laws they are, than if you drive like a jackass weaving in and out of traffic and blowing through stop signs/lights. The ones who do know the laws will definitely respect you more.

    There is a portion of the motorist community that don’t know the laws and don’t care and who are never going to respect cyclists. However, cycling as if all motorists are like this and thus justifying bad cycling behavior only runs the risk of making the respectful motorists move into the disrespect camp. Everyone of those people you turn toward disrespect, or the ones you fail to try to turn toward respect, becomes another danger to all cyclists on those same roads, not just you.

    And on the helmet front, I don’t really know what the statistics say, but a year my bike slid out from under me coming around a corner near my office. I fell and my helmet hit the asphalt cracking it practically in half. I have no doubt that had I not had a helmet on that a head injury, possibly severe, would have occurred.

    With that said, I don’t really care if others don’t wear helmets as the only person you could hurt is yourself by not wearing one.

    I can’t say that much for breaking the laws.

  37. BluesCat says:

    Lest y’all are thinking I’m some sort of Rabid Scofflaw, no, I am NOT saying you don’t obey laws just because you don’t like ’em, I AM saying you put safety before strict adherence to ALL laws, traffic or otherwise.

    In demonstrate what I mean, I’ll set up a rather dramatic situation based on true events. An adult is riding with a group of kids, trailing them as they come down a hill towards a stop sign at the bottom. The adult hears a noise behind his bike and, looking back, sees a dump truck rapidly coming down behind them with all kinds of weird noises emanating from its wheels. “Turn right at the stop sign,” the adult calls down to the group of kids, “DON’T STOP AT THE SIGN, keep going around to the right!” No sooner has the adult followed the last kid around the corner than the truck booms through the intersection, it’s brakes totally fried and ineffective. The bicyclists would have been grease smears on the pavement if they had stopped at the stop sign.

    Okay, you say, THAT’S a “special situation for not obeying the law,” and I’M saying “EXACTLY, AND EVERY SINGLE STOP SIGN ON OUR AUTOMOBILE-CENTRIC ROADS IS THE SAME SORT OF SPECIAL SITUATION.”

    Watch this entertaining, and informative, video at Urban Velo for reasons why it is really smart and safe for bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs:

  38. Robert Rowe says:

    My #1 rule for urban cycling (hell, cycling, period) is “Be Predictable”.

    (I started addressing each of the 10 rules, and realized I should probably do my own blog post in reply…)

  39. Josh Lipton says:

    Josh King’s 10 Rules for Urban Commuting may come off as an authoritative viewpoint, however I took it as Josh’s personal recipe for surviving the risks of bike commuting, particularly the “vehicular cycling” flavor of bike commuting. Overall, I feel that his list represents one possible method out of many for dealing with the realities of vehicular cycling in the US.

    While some very valid points have been brought up here about both the positives and negatives of Josh’s approach, I don’t think it can be denied that most versions of vehicular cycling offer some level of risk. Thoroughly considering your approach to these risks is a wise thing to do as a bike commuter. Whether or not you agree with Josh, I certainly think his post and the resulting discussion has gotten all of us to ponder our own approach to these risks.

    It would be interesting to hear other bike commuters top 10 list for surviving “vehicular cycling” given their personal riding styles, where they live and how they would like to be perceived by other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
    (Robert Rowe: We’re looking forward to your 10 rules)

  40. peteathome says:

    So Josh uses the example of a dump truck with no brakes as the reason he gives for saying traffic laws are for cars, not bikes! Gee, Josh, I follow the law so blindly I would just let the truck squish me!

    The point is, that is the vast majority of situations “keeping moving” at stop signs and lights is a very unsafe maneuver. Plus you have to negotiate each intersection like a crazed bike messenger, dodging traffic and pedestrians.

    I cycle daily, year round, in dense urban traffic. By following the basic “rules of the road” I don’t have to think about what to do most of the time. It is automatic. Bicycling is low stress and pleasant, not some hair-raising adventure. In 30 years of almost daily bicycling I’ve seldom had a close call, bicycling in LA, Memphis, Philadelphia, the Bay Area.

    If Seattle is as bad as Josh seems to indicate, I would not live there. It sounds too dangerous, from his descriptions of traffic for bicycling.

    Once you learn how to follow the rules of the road, most conflict is reduced. You can focus your attention on the out-of-ordinary situations and take action as required. When you bike with no real rules, as Josh is really describing, you have to constantly be on guard, every situation is a potential conflict.

    Sounds exhausting.

  41. Mark says:

    Interesting list, but I think you forgot something very important: watch your back. When you’re riding, you should look over your shoulder periodically, for the same reason that a driver should look in his/her rear view mirror. There have been numerous occasions where I have been preparing for a left turn, signaled clearly, and looked over my shoulder to see a car coming to (illegally) pass me on the left. Had I not looked, I likely would’ve gotten splattered. In less severe situations, there have been times when I looked behind me and noticed that the car about to pass me was not giving much room, which was nice to know ahead of time, rather than having the car suddenly appear less than a foot to my side. Finally, it seems like when a driver sees me looking back at them as they approach, they’re more likely to give a wider berth. I may be imagining that, but perhaps seeing me look says to them, “I see you back there. No funny business, now.”

  42. Mark says:

    Oh, and one other thing: Use lights. Any time cars have their lights on, have yours on. And you can never have too many.

  43. RevJen says:

    Most of all, when I commute by bike, I do as much as I can to avoid traffic. If I’m riding on vacant streets in residential neighborhoods, I routinely roll through stop signs. I can see both ways and know there are no cars. (There’s an effort in the Wisconsin legislature to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as though they were yield signs.)

    In Wisconsin, bicyclists and motorcyclists are allowed to proceed through a red light if they’ve been stopped for 30 (45?) seconds, the light has not changed, and the road is clear.

    I always wear a helmet, find bike paths where possible (we don’t have a lot of bike lanes, but we have some pretty good shared bike/pedestrian paths/trails), take the lane when I have to, and ride on a couple of sidewalks that I know almost never have any pedestrian traffic on them.

    But I don’t live in a big city, and I can usually find a way to get places that avoids the worst of our traffic.

  44. Damien says:

    I’d like to start by pointing out that the cop in your story was a total idiot! 🙂 That being said, I wouldn’t assume “cops don’t know the rules of the road”, since many cops actually do. I wish more did, though.

    I was a passenger in my close friend’s car a few months back and we came to a 4-way stop sign about a block from her house – a very residential area in Encino. She stopped and prepped to turn left. Then a bicyclist came to the stop sign immediately to her left, but simply yielded instead of stopping and giving her the right-of-way (which she had since she came to the stop first). As the bike moved inward, she came about a foot from plowing right into him. The biker got enraged; my friend got pissed and turned to me and asked something along the lines of “Why do you all think you can get away with that?!” Of course, I explained that we all don’t do that.

    I don’t follow the rules every single time. For example, if no car is around at a stop sign, I yield and look around instead of making a full stop. But my fear is that if I’m sitting at a traffic light and feel I should roll through it to ensure my safety, then what if a person who drives a tiny 50cc scooter (like myself) starts to think the same thing? It could set a dangerous precedent when people who drive smaller modes of transportation *feel* unsafe so they think they can freely disobey the law.

  45. Victor says:

    Your commute sounds exhausting, Josh. It’s a pity you view it as a constant battle. For what it’s worth, I commute every weekday in a city of 4 million (Melbourne, Australia), follow the road rules, but also do what’s necessary to protect myself. Most of the time, I find it quite relaxing.

    Also, I’d be interested to see what concrete evidence you have that moving through red lights is safer than staying still until they change to green.

  46. Josh King says:

    Actually, I don’t view it as a battle – it’s exhilarating, not exhausting. My point is simply that city riding requires a fundamentally different approach than riding in the countryside, town or trails (or European cities with real cycling infrastructure).

  47. Ted Johnson says:

    Re. #5 “Variety is not the spice of life”

    I’m prone to daydreaming when my commute becomes too routine. Variety keeps me alert.

    When I lived in DC, the traffic and fear of death kept me alert. But here in Flagstaff, my low-intensity commute could easily lull me into a complacent and inattentive state of mind. And that’s exactly why I mix it up.

  48. Andres Salomon says:

    *Please* use hand signals, for the benefit of other cyclists on the road. It’s bad enough when cars do random things without blinkers; it’s worse when the cyclist in front of you does some boneheaded move without any indication that they were intending to alter course. I understand completely if it’s unsafe to signal (because you’re braking with both hands, or navigating potholes, etc). But your statement of “signaling is not going to be useful most of the time” implies that it *will* be useful *some* of the time, and those are the times that it matters.

    Looking behind you before passing another cyclist isn’t going to be useful most of the time either,.. However, that the *one* time that you do look and it helps you to avoid plowing into someone else who’s silently passing you on your left; that will make you thankful that you checked at all.

  49. Don Brodka says:

    I hate this post.

    These aren’t rules for urban commuting. They’re rules for being a douchebag.

  50. Gman says:

    A few years ago I was the cycling coordinator in a big building where I did tech support for almost everyone. When it was publicized that I was the cycling coordinator I began having conversations about cycling when I was at people’s desks solving their PC problems. These were people I’d known for years, and I’d helped many of them in the past. It became apparent that many of my friends, and they ARE my friends and nice people, do not understand why cyclists “just don’t have to obey the law”.

    I’m a full year bicycle commuter, been riding for about 40 years, and I think that as long as we’re “just special” and have the attitude that normal laws just don’t apply to us, we’ll have problems with a lot of people. There are some jerks who’ll always hate us, but when we go out of our way to alienate EVERYONE on wheels, or on the sidewalk, we’ll eventually have some serious political problems. Lately things have been good for cycling, but the more obnoxious we behave the more we create people who’ll vote against our candidates and our needs. If we want cycling to be mainstream, WE need to be mainstream.

    Josh’s thoughts that “a moving bike is a safe bike” are a pretty lame way to justify “whatever I want to do is OK with me” which is OK until the other guy has the same attitude. It’s selfish, stupid, and bad for cycling.

  51. peteathome says:

    Most people don’t want their daily commute to be “exhilarating”. If that is what bicycling is like, most people will stick to their cars.

    For some reason, I find bicyling “relaxing” rather than exhilarating. Perhaps because I mostly follow the rules of the road.

    I suspect most of your “exhilaration” is of your own making – which is fine if you want bicycling to be a high risk thrill sport. The rest of us just want to get to work in a nice frame of mind, and alive.

  52. BluesCat says:

    “I’d like to start by pointing out that the cop in your story was a total idiot! 🙂 That being said, I wouldn’t assume “cops don’t know the rules of the road”, since many cops actually do. I wish more did, though.”

    Damien, make sure you read that entire blog post: the cop who told me “I didn’t belong there” didn’t know the law, the cop following him evidently didn’t know enough about the law to radio his comrade to tell him I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and the non-emergency operator didn’t know the law!

    Combine that with the final resolution regarding the incident (Blog post: Altercation With a Motorist) and what you have is what appears to be a large problem with the Phoenix Police Department!

    Bryan: So, what I should do is follow the rules strictly, and ahead of safety concerns, so that I have the approval of some knowledgeable motorists as a Good Boy on My Bicycle? (Chuckle) THAT ain’t happening, B!

  53. leftleftright says:

    Agree strongly that bicyclists need to be aggressive (rule 3) and moreso, OBVIOUS in where they are going. And this is why (6) doesnt make sense. *Part* of being aggressive is signalling. Saying, as best you can, *I am going _THERE_ and you need to _let_ me.* The guess-work that drivers go through when encountering a cyclist has a strong part in accidents. We, as cyclists, can help to remove this guess-work (and thus, ensuring OUR safety) by being *obvious*.

    If, as a cyclist, you are too uncomfortable with letting one hand off of the bars for about five seconds, then you should look into finding a different route (or getting more comfortable with the bumps in yours), getting different bars, practicing, or any combination of those three. Or jerry-rigging some blinkers. (Which could be a fun project..)

    Everything else — taking the lane, using rolling caution at stop signs, etc, I think is fine. Personally, I stop completely at red lights (IN the lane) — I feel it’s safer, it further cements my status as a Vehicle among drivers, and I don’t feel that I deserve special treatment as a cyclist. Stop signs, however — I don’t think there is a measurable difference between my stopping/dismounting and my rolling to 1mph at a stop, so I choose rolling.

  54. leftleftright says:

    PS Also agree with the other commenter who mentioned STAY OFF THE SIDEWALK. It does *nothing* for anyone. It makes pedestrians hate cyclists and it makes drivers think cyclists don’t belong on the street. I understand that cyclists can get scared and sidewalks are pleasing alternatives in moments of weakness, but if you’re going to get onto the sidewalk with your bike, then you need to dismount and start walking your bike.

  55. BluesCat says:

    I know some streets in Phoenix — which are major arterials and the ONLY routes to get to some locations — that you wouldn’t want to ride on in the right-hand lane any more than you’d want to ride in the slow lane on the freeway!

    I’m not a fan of riding the S/W (the expansion joints are murder on a bike with high pressure tires), and I hate having to keep the speed WAY down to about running speed whenever I do it, but in a situation like I described above there isn’t much option.

    And, once again, I’m less concerned about pedestrians and drivers being all happy with me because I’m a Good Boy On My Bike, and more concerned with what is safest for ME.

  56. Bryan says:

    BluesCat – I do agree that safety is the most important thing. I just believe that more times than not, following the laws is a fairly safe way of getting around on a bike. Surely there are times when your ensuring personal safety may mean you have to break the law, but I think that should be the exception and not the rule. Lists like this, and some of the people commenting on the post, make it out as if riding a bicycle in a city is like navigating a battleground. I believe that is just how some people want to see it so it can be “exhilarating” and it can feel like some sort of competition, battle, war, etc. It just doesn’t seem like that to me on my day-to-day commutes and other bike excursions. I just like riding my bike. If it did feel like a battle, I probably would choose to skateboard or something a little less “dangerous.”

  57. Rider says:

    Rule No. 11 – Use a mirror.

  58. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    Minneapolis is #5 of American cities for worst, dangerous and aggrissive drives. It is also #1 for cyclists…

    Up here I can go for months and be the only law abiding road user.

    My morning commuter for over a year started with most motorist harassing me.. But over that time of follow all the traffic LAWS that has changed. I have set a model for them and now that is the only time I can count on seeing others follow the laws..

    I will scream at everyone, motorist, cylist and peds for breaking the laws and violating others rights… I also believe it is wrong to encourge others to break laws – Will you pay the cost when they get hit by a car while runnig a stop sign?

  59. I agree with all but 6 and 10. 6 is really a judgment call, I signal when I can and it is safe, but in situations where I am not planning it out or there is rough road, I won’t signal.

    10 is one of those things where there are many reasons you might right sans helmet and getting yelled at for it is complete BS. Take helmet preaching and shove it. It is another way to put cyclists in their place. And yes I wear a helmet, search my flickr site, you will see tons of pictures with me in a helmet.

    I am a big believer in riding safely and breaking laws when it makes sense. #1 really resonates with me due to that. I used to be a bit of a gutter bunny and a motorcycle cop rode up to me and emphasized point #3, be aggressive and take the lane when it makes you safer.

    I ride an unusual bike nowadays and so signaling and riding more vehicularly is natural. It is a good list and I appreciate you posting it.

    I currently ride in the Seattle area but have lived and cycle commuted in VA, Portland, OR, Long Island, NY, Munich (Germany) and briefly Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was the scariest but not bad except for the bike theft issue. I got hassled the most by cops in the South. I haven’t had any police issues in any other part of the country. I think riding in the South isn’t bad though the attitudes about riding are probably the worst there.

  60. Bomber says:

    Sure, safety first but that does not have to be in conflict with stopping for lights and stop signs. Stopping for these is a sign of good faith with fellow users, certainly if it is safer to put your self in the middle of the lane or bike box, do so. BUT STOP FOR THE STOP LIGHT/SIGN. If you can’t do that dumpster your bike and use the sidewalk.

  61. Mr Colostomy says:

    1, 6 and 10 are wrong

    1. Sometimes you have to break the rules of the road, traffic signals which don’t detect bikes are a prime example. Generally though, they are worth sticking to, just to everyone on the road knows what is going on.

    6. How hard is it to take a hand off your handlebar for a moment? If you can’t ride with one hand off the bar sometimes, maybe you aren’t ready to ride on the road.

    10. Helmets are completely useless. You’d be better off getting a priest to bless your underpants with holy water.

  62. BluesCat says:

    “10. Helmets are completely useless. You’d be better off getting a priest to bless your underpants with holy water.”

    (Chuckle) Then contact the Bishop about the priest’s “inappropriate advances.”

    The ONLY beef I have about helmets is how The Media is quick to mention whether the bicyclist in a serious collision was wearing one (as if a bike helmet would offer protection against several tons of automobile).

    Otherwise, I know too many people who have had their gray matter saved by having a helmet between it and the pavement. Look up the story of the tragic skiing accident Natasha Richardson.

  63. Ken Skier says:

    Provocative article. I agree with much of it–
    –but having cycled for many years in Boston and Cambridge, and occasionally in New York City, I must object to the advice that cyclists should “not signal.”

    Cyclists survive only when all other road users understand our intentions. I want motorists, truck drivers, and pedestrians to know that I am about to turn left, or stop, or go straight at an intersection. The writer’s excuse that he doesn’t want to take a hand off the handlebar is mystifying to me. You are in far greater danger from acting unpredictably on the road than you are from riding with one hand firmly gripping the handlebar.

    We need to communicate effectively. Signaling is the only way to do that. When we do, motorists respect us.

    By the way, signalling means more than pointing your arm one way or the other to indicate your intended course. It also means LOOKING at the motorist, trucker, or pedestrian, and establishing eye contact to make sure your signal was understood. That’s the key to communication: eye contact. And you will be surprised at how often a timely signal and glance is rewarded with a smile or a generous wave to “Go ahead.” (Yes. Even in the Big City.)

    If we’re going to share the road, we’ve got to look at one another, and Communicate.

  64. roxxosteen says:

    how is #10 wrong!?

    do you not wear a seatbelt cause there is the infinitesimally small chance that it could trap you in the car? do you purposefully buy a car without airbags because they can sometimes not protect you? why would you not take advantage of every possible way to make yourself safe on the road – let that be breaking traffic laws or wearing a helmet. survival is number one and i would be a vegetable or dead if not for wearing a helmet.

    lights, helmet, and brakes — the city is not the velodrome.

  65. Tad Salyards says:

    What a bunch of ignorant ass-hattery this article contains. Don’t signal? Are you serious? Many also resent the implication that non-helmet wearers do so only out of vanity and a desire to be cool. Many don’t wear helmets because, unlike the rest of the Anglo world, our ability to assess risk is not damaged or grossly lacking.

    Admit it, Josh. You hate cars and love being at odds with them. Rather than promote a positive image of cycling you’d rather do battle as the ultimate self-aggrandizing hipster.

    Rule #1 – don’t be this guy.

    -Tad Salyards Mpls, MN

  66. Julian says:

    I have to call BS as well on “I run red lights because it’s safer than being stopped an an intersection”.


    It may be faster and more convenient for you, but if you really wanted to be safe you’d take the lane at the intersection and obey the traffic signals like everybody else.

    Sure, if you’ve snuck up on the right (legal), there may be an advantage to keep going across the intersection, but you do so at the risk of acting like a complete asshat “urban cyclist” commuting commando stereotype.

    Which actually does have consequences for the rest of us. There is a societal taboo against red-light running, for very good (automotive) reasons. And if the majority of us fellow folks on bikes think your “safety” excuse is full of it, the motorists just use it as one more example of why they shouldn’t “share the road” (itself a totally flawed phrase).

    Take the lane, and take your turn, or at least obey the traffic signals. You’re pretty darn safe stopped in the lane behind the stop line. I think you’d be safer overall if you lost the aggro attitude, honestly.

  67. Tim says:

    I’m not aware of any traffic research that confirms the idea that being stopped at a light is more dangerous than running one.

    Anecdotally, every bicycle fatality I can remember ever hearing about involves a moving bike, not a stationary one.

  68. Seville says:

    Great post Josh. Your 11 points are just fine.

  69. Rob says:

    Yeah dude. Do us a favour and be a bit more of an ambassador for us. I don’t like being hated for your bonehead moves.

  70. Helmethead says:

    While I disagree with some of the statements made here, I think you hit the nail on the head with point #10. A well fitted helmet in no way impedes your vision or hearing, and while it obviously won’t make the difference in all cases, any protection you give your very fragile brain against the very hard concrete etc., is obviously a good thing. Working in an ER, I deal with bike accidents a fair amount, and it’s always obvious when a biker has been in a crash without a helmet. In closing: if you bike without a helmet, you are in fact STUPID, since you use sophistry to prevent you from looking out for your best interests. Shame on the people encouraging others to ride without a helmet.

  71. Shane says:

    This post on “The macho discourse on city cycling” is a great reply to this post.
    I personally find these “rules” incorrect, inaccurate, and inapplicable to people who want to ride comfortably, safely, and respectfully around our communities.

  72. Q-Rings says:

    This is all pretty much horrible advice.

    Except the helmet bit, and not passing cars on the right at intersections.

  73. EC says:

    Helmets do in fact help. In the past year, my brother has been hit by a car while riding his bike, and I have fallen on my bike. We were each wearing helmets and each saved from far more serious injury thanks to the helmets.

    My helmet has a inch hole on the side where I fell. When I got up I remember thinking, “I hit my head.” My head was fine, my shoulder hurt, and I had road rash on my arm and leg. I don’t even know that I would have walked away, much less ridden, without that helmet!

    As for my brother, he STILL received a concussion, easily his third in life. He’s a regular bike commuter and would never ride without a helmet anymore.

    I started wearing a helmet 25 years ago after a friend was hit. He was lucky but we both started using helmets. I view it as one more signal to a driver that I am serious about my safety when I’m on a bike.

  74. Jim says:

    I’m a very experienced full-time, year-round bike commuter. I haven’t driven a car since the ’80’s. I used to love riding without my helmet, but wore it for all of my commuting to work. But for casual rides on my day off, I enjoyed riding without one. No big deal, right.

    Then, on one of those casual days, I looked forward to riding sans, but put it on, entirely by habit. I was riding up to my mom’s house, on her sidewalk in the frontyard, very slowly, taking it easy, Nothing could be less dangerous, right.

    I’m still not sure what happened, but I think whie making a slight turn I went over a fallen leaf which may have had morning dew still underneath. I went down in a heartbeat and landed with my torso on my handlebars, whipping my head onto the corner of the concrete sidewalk. I hit right on my temple, right where it’s soft, and the crack was as loud as a gunshot.

    I’m absolutely certain if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet that day I’d either have died or have done serious damage. I probably gave myself a concussion as it was.

    My helmet saved my life. No question.

    I never ride without my helmet. It’s stupid to do so.

  75. Jim says:

    Regarding obeying traffic rules, unless there’s a real good reason for not doing so, I always follow the rules. They aren’t there just because they are a good idea. They are there so we can all know what to expect from one another, and act accordingly.

    I use my hand signals. Drivers appreciate it. Sometimes I don’t signal, such as when there are potholes or when climbing a steep hill requiring two hands on the handlebars. In those circumstances I do my best to make my intentions obvious to any drivers.

    Ride responsibly. Respect is a two-way street, and if we don’t give it, we won’t get it. Unfortunately, someone else’s lack of respect reflects poorly on those of us who do ride responsibly, and we all pay the price.

    Please revisit these “rules”.

  76. Shannon says:

    What is with all this helmet hate? I’ve been a bicycle commuter for years, and had two incidences where I was extremely glad to have a helmet. The first, I was waiting at a light bent slightly over to adjust my cargo, the light turned green as I finished my adjustment, but I felt a bonk on my head and looked to see a speeding motorist passing me in a too-tight spot zooming away with his side mirror dangling off. I’m sure my skull wouldn’t have produced this effect on the car, but the helmet did.

    Another, I was going down a steep hill, rolled over some gravel, pressed my brakes in the wrong way and landed on my hands, but my head also hit the ground. My hands were scraped up, but my head was absolutely fine.

    Why not wear a helmet? What harm does it do?

  77. Phillip says:

    Seems pretty real world to me Josh. My only complaints are at Nos 6 and 10. I definitely think you should use hand signals. Just forget the horse%#^$ method they taught you in 9th grade drivers ed. I simply point in the direction I’m going to go. It’s quick, unambiguous and drivers get it. As for helmets, if you think strapping a scrap of beer cooler on your head is going help you, then you’re living in a fantasy world. In order to be effective a helmet would have to approach the size, weight and construction of a motorcycle helmet. The best we can do is try to use the thing under the helmet more often.I like your site and your attitude. Keep up the good work!

  78. Chrehn says:

    Helmets might be considered subjective. However, accidents are not foreseen. Another story; I was riding home from work on the same route that I have taken hundreds of times,dark, raining,went around a corner,car behind me,front end slipped out from under me on some autumn leaves, everything slipped out from under me, Kablammo, the right side of my head hit the pavement so hard that chunks broke off my helmet and cracked the styrofoam… I was cuckoo for cocoa puffs. It was like being struck by lightning. Fortunately, the car behind me stopped in time. I jumped up and hollered I’m OK! I walked my bike home and had a headache for two days. So here’s my long-winded point; I think it is a good idea to wear a helmet. I was born a rebel and I hope you are rebels, too. Protect your head and rebel against the important things.

  79. trailsnet says:

    You forgot to check rule #11: Stick to trails whenever possible.

  80. trailsnet says:

    Allow me to summarize:
    Common sense trumps arbitrary rules when it comes to biking on the roads.
    I won’t agree or disagree; I’m just glad I spend the majority of my riding time on the trails so I don’t have to worry about the (ever present) dangers of road biking.

  81. Ted Johnson says:

    Over at Copenhagenize, Mike kept a log of every traffic violation he committed for one week.

    I had turned right at red lights 15 times. I rolled past the stop line at red lights 19 times. I started rolling before the light turned green 9 times. I forgot my lights twice. I rode down one-way streets 8 times. All in all the police missed out on fines totaling 26,500 kroner [$4826]. All these infractions were done at low speeds and without bothering any other cyclists or pedestrians and at no danger to myself. I’m a Crime Rider! Crazy!

    Includes a very funny Danish video.

  82. Seville says:

    Ted the Copenhagenize article is a good one. Thanks.

  83. John Rawlins says:

    I guess the world’s most stupid people must be the Dutch. We should send some American cycling educational teams over there and teach those dummies how to ride with helmets on their heads.

  84. Urban commuter says:

    You don’t know what you are talking about, and your post is dangerous. Ask a neurosurgeon about how many people with brain damage are victims of accidents that didn’t wear a helmet. My brother is an EMT who has been to many accident sites where the person wearing the helmet can thank that piece of foam for their retained cognative ability.

  85. CityBiker says:

    I wouldn’t ride my bike around the block in this city without a helmet. Aside from the roads being in p@ss-poor condition, the so-called “bike facilities” (I.e., lanes, sharrows) are a joke. They are way too narrow, most of them have no buffer from traffic, some are on the wrong side of the road and just end without a warning or directions. I feel imperiled every time I bike home from work (mornings are okay ’cause I leave my house early enough to avoid traffic), but I just hate the thought of not biking to work. In my old city, bike-commuting was a joy. Here it is a major stressor..

  86. Rollin' on Two in StP/Mpls says:

    Been commuting by bike daily, 3 1/2 seasons per year (I usually take a break at the peak of summer) in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Despite other comments here, we are bike-friendly cities with more tolerant motorists than I’ve encountered elsewhere – though this does NOT apply to suburban motorists commuting to work in cars, who are almost universally hostile and ignorant re: cyclists on the road.

    #1- the topic of much debate – is correct, or at least it applies in my locale. If people read, they would note it does not say “ignore all traffic laws” or “ignore laws when convenient”, but rather “obeying traffic rules is not your first priority”. This is absolute fact; not all laws concerning bicyclists are well designed… if they exist beyond some minor statutes, they are certainly designed as an afterthought by lawmakers who (for the most part) do not commute by bike ever. The reasoning of a moving bike is safer, etc, may or may not be accurate – I doubt there is data to support a clear argument – but the rule stands on its own.

    Likewise, a lot of people seem to be better at writing than reading in regards to #6 – where it says clearly, “dispense with that dumb-ass right turn signal nonsense. Just point where you’re going.” YES! the bizarre and nonstandard system of one-handed signals is retarded. Point where you are going if it helps motorist predict where you are going. What’s wrong with that?

    Re #10… I don’t usually wear a helmet. I ought to, but I can’t afford one – honestly. If I could find one of those “free helmet giveaways” I’d be totally down. Alas, I ride in fear of bashing my head on something on a random 10mph fall. Growing up in a family of bikers (motorcyclists) taught me the value of helmets for low-speed collisions. In high speed or car/bike crashes, it is true, the helmet is probably worthless.

    Once – when I was about 12 – a cute girl I liked waved at me when I was riding. I hit the curb and flew into a stop sign. I got eight stitches and a permanent scar on my forehead. A helmet would have helped.

  87. Joseph says:

    Darren, he’s not saying not to ride in between times when you get a helmet stolen. He’s saying that people in general are dumber than a bag of hammers if they choose not to wear a helmet. Which they are.

  88. Mark Jeff says:

    If you have a $10 head, then you only need to buy a $10 bike helmet.

  89. Albert Johnson says:

    Jesus Christ this whole page makes cycling seem like the most dangerous thing to do ever! I have never in my life seen a cyclist get hit. But as a driver I hate it when people on bicycles go in the middle of one lane streets, but that doesn’t mean that I am incompetent at driving enough to hit them as I pass them on the left. But then again this world is full of idiots.

  90. Keith says:

    These are pretty good!

  91. Shawn says:

    Statistics do not show a significant increase in protection from the use of a bike helmet. They do show that vehicles will pass closer to a bikers wearing a helmet, than one that is not. All other things constant, it is a mathematical FACT, that riding WITHOUT a helmet is SAFER. That being said, I do use a helmet in order to combat the #1 danger for bike commuters – being hit by a car. It’s bright orange, loaded with lights, and has a camera so I can submit video of dangerous drivers to the local police (or news station if the police won’t act). On the occasions I don’t need the helmet (not driving on the road) I carry an extra (from Goodwill) in/on my backpack. When some “concerned” citizen says something like – “Living Dangerously, Huh?” I take it out, crush it with my foot and reply “I guess so”.

  92. Tommy says:

    If you want smooth bike lanes, then bikers should start paying road tax like all the cars. Registration should be required just like a car and should have a fee attached to help maintain your bike lane. Also, if you don’t use a bike lane or ride 2 abreast or more blocking a street with traffic don’t expect me to pass you with any extra margin or not ride ride your ass.
    One more thing stay off the sidewalk, it isn’t a bike lane.

  93. dave says:

    Here we have a prime example of rules from someone who should not be allowed to ride a bicycle due to not being mature enough to do so.

    If you can’t obey traffic laws then you are nothing more than a criminal. It doesn’t matter if you “think” disregarding them makes you safer. It matters that you have no right to be on the road at all if you don’t obey them.

    They do, in fact, apply to bicycles no matter what twisted excuse you want to use about them being developed for automobiles.

    Plus, if you’re taking up the whole lane in front of me and there’s a bicycle lane empty to your right, I’m probably going to follow you to your destination because, well, it’s the principle that you’re not going to ride the streets like that one way or the other.

    I have no problem with cyclists taking the whole lane when there is no bicycle lane, but be warned that if it’s okay for a cyclist to take the whole lane when there’s a bicycle lane then I WILL be passing you by forcing my way past USING the bicycle lane and whatever amount I stick out into the main lane.

    That’s the thing about being safe on a bicycle. There are enough accidents that a cyclist would have to be an idiot to deliberately do things that piss off cagers.

    You may think “well then you’ll end up in prison”. Maybe so, but I am just representing one ill willed driver while there are dozens if not hundreds of real ones you’ll come across every day, as well as texting teens that are MORE likely to run you over if you plant yourself directly in front of them so they don’t even have to leave their lane to hit you, as a lot of them keep half their eyesight on the lane divider lines right at the end of their car hood but don’t look far enough ahead to see a cyclist.

    Lastly it is Very Poor Judgement to post your own rebellious tendencies and selfishness as “rules” to others. There is such a thing as a route that is too dangerous to reasonably ride on a bike every day. Someone with common sense would not take such a route, would even move to a different part of the city to make their commute safer if for some reason they have some mental block or poverty, or a DWI, keeping them from taking a car for its safety advantage then cycling in a more appropriate area when prudent.

    If you can’t be safe obeying the laws then you have no business on public roads.

  94. Mark says:

    This is a fantastic post! I especially like “Wear a helmet, stupid” but I have just noticed something…do you mean to stay (But still – too many fixie hipsters and other too-cool types are cruising around WITHOUT helmets) instead of (WITH helmets?) Apart form that guys, this is a very good and informative post. I love the fashion and the style of urban cycling now days, but we must wear a helmet dudes! (darren…don’t worry dude, just take care on the roads and stay safe) it’s so important!!! I have written a similar, shorter post on cycling in the city, it’s not as detailed but might make you laugh! you can see it here at http://innercityrider.com/2016/04/04/complete-urban-cycling-guide/ Thanks agin for the great post!

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