Riding a bike is fun and practical, but there are a few conventional rules that can make it even more fun and practical, especially when there are pedestrians, motorists, and other bicycle riders nearby. Mostly, it's just common sense:
- Be aware of your surroundings,
- Be comfortable and in control of yourself and your vehicle,
- Be visible and predicable, and
- Follow the usual "rules of the road."
Here are some best practices written-up and illustrated very nicely by Keri Caffrey:
- Have control of your bike.
- Ride on the road.
- Know and follow the rules.
- Integrate in the intersections.
- There's more than one way to turn left.
- Protect your space in the lane.
- Understand the limitations of bike lanes.
- Learn emergency maneuvers.
- Don't escalate harassment.
The League of American Bicyclists (The League), a non-profit membership organization, promotes bicycling and bicycle education throughout the US. The League has developed a nationally recognized educational program called BikeED, and certifies bicycle educators to teach appropriate subject matter to kids and adults in a variety of settings. You can find a class near you here.
BikeED's pedestrian and bicycle safety lessons could easily be incorporated as a required part of elementary schools' curricula. Don't we owe it to our children to teach them how to identify unsafe conditions, and how to be safe while walking or riding bikes in their neighborhoods and elsewhere? Many Americans have taken or will take driver's ed in high school. Don't you think that a new teenage driver who has already learned to look critically at traffic conditions as a bicyclist or pedestrian will be a safer driver than one who hasn't?
If you haven't done it already, consider getting some bicycle education as soon as possible. Even experienced bicyclists routinely find BikeED courses to be eye-openning (I certainly did). Again, to find a local class, go to The League's Online Database.