Is it considered bad etiquette to ride a road bike through a small residential area? Not talking about a cheap bike and riding on the sidewalk but a nicer road bike at a decent pace. I don't want to upset anyone by cutting through their neighborhood but it would be a lot easier for my commute.

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    As long as your peloton isn't like 100 people long, I don't think it's bad etiquette, just watch out for cars backing in and out of their driveways. Apr 15, 2014 at 21:00
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    Do be aware that in some localities there are "gated communities" where "thru traffic" of any sort is regarded as trespass. But this is because the streets are considered private property, not public roads. (And there would have to be adequate signage on entry to the area to let you know this.) Apr 16, 2014 at 11:14
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    Is this an US thing, where everything is centered around cars? Because I (being a German citizen) first thought this question is a joke (no offense!). Here in Germany, virtually any road (exception: 2 track streets like motorways) can be used also by bicicles.
    – Uwe Keim
    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:48
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    I'd actually be kinda pissed if cyclists came through my neighborhood faster than the speed limit (it's possible in some small neighborhoods) and blowing stop signs, etc. As long as cyclists obey the laws, however, I'd way rather see bikes than cars.
    – alesplin
    Apr 16, 2014 at 18:12
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    Is this a US thing, where everything is centered around cars? Part 2: Here in The Netherlands, the sideWALK is for pedestrians. No cyclists allowed! Not even on cheap bikes.
    – allcaps
    Apr 17, 2014 at 7:15

5 Answers 5


I wouldn't consider it to be bad etiquette IF:

  • You're not breaking the posted road speed limit.
  • Watch not only for cars backing out but for kids.
  • Watch for dogs.

In small neighborhoods like this it's also not a bad idea to stay out in the lane and not hug the curb. This gives you much more time if a car or child comes hurtling out into the road and you're not going to be slowing down a following car very much.

Edit: include the warning to watch for dogs. This is pretty important.

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    Until you're familiar with it, ride a bit slower. Cheerfully greet any residents you see, and wave to any kids, especially those on bikes. Watch for dogs
    – andy256
    Apr 15, 2014 at 23:14
  • Actually, dogs, being used to lots of people here, are less apt to be a problem than in a more rural setting. Apr 16, 2014 at 1:58
  • @DanielRHicks Not in my experience :-( In modern life many urban people seem to have minimal dog control. Like the whale in "Hitchhiker's" they (the dogs) seem to think "what's this big brightly colored thing coming toward me? I wonder if it'll be friendly?" and run out to get in one's way.
    – andy256
    Apr 16, 2014 at 3:04
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    Cars hurtling down that street are the problem, not bikes in their way. If anything, bikes slowing down the cars would be and should be welcome. Apr 16, 2014 at 3:44
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    @andy256 I'd be rather surprised to encounter dogs in the neighborhood portrayed by the OP. My experience matches Daniel's; ie, it's mainly just where you ride and only in rural areas will you encounter roaming dogs. And here, at least, even in rural areas it's quite rare for me to encounter loose dogs. However, I live in the northern US, and I know roaming dogs are MUCH more common in the southern US (because I've lived in both). Apr 16, 2014 at 3:57

No. Absolutely not.

And why would it be? Should you run a race through there without getting the residents onboard first? Of course not. (And who would?) But taking a bike ride through residential areas? Why would anyone object? And if they do, how could it possibly be labeled unreasonable for a cyclist to come down the street at 10-20 mph when cars come down it all the time at 20-40 mph?

Pretend you live there and ask yourself which one you want coming down your street at their maximum speed and recklessness. I'd take a peloton of drunken idiots on bikes over a single car. The former could be merely entertaining, but the latter rather lethal.

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    +1 for "and why would it be?"
    – PeteH
    Apr 16, 2014 at 14:55

I'm assuming you're in the US. If that's true, a bicyclist has the same rights (and obligations) as a motor vehicle, so etiquette doesn't come into it. You have the right to use the public roads (and the obligation to stop at stop signs).

Unless there's something odd about your bike riding (you ride with a boom box cranked up to 11?), I would think you'd be welcome to cut through a residential area, as you make no noise, emit no pollution and are arguably less impactful than a car.

Be polite, wave at folks who yield to you at intersections and enjoy the ride!

  • Many people would say that cutting through suburban streets in a car is rude, so saying cycling is the same as driving doesn't help.
    – Max
    Apr 18, 2014 at 6:59
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    @Max Not to mince words, but he didn't say cycling is the same as driving. He said cyclists have the same rights and obligations as drivers, and I think that's a key point here. Cyclists shouldn't feel they're doing anything wrong by exercising their legal rights to ride where they wish. Apr 20, 2014 at 23:49
  • @CareyGregory: I have many legal rights which I don't exercise because it would be rude. Etiquette is different to rights and obligations, and so it is wrong to say "a bicyclist has the same rights (and obligations) as a motor vehicle, so etiquette doesn't come into it." For example, I am allowed to fart in a crowded room, but it is still rude. I'm not saying the OP shouldn't cycle through this neighbourhood; just that this answer doesn't actually answer the question.
    – Max
    Apr 21, 2014 at 9:54

I has a sad that you even felt like you had to ask this question, no matter what kind of bike you have. :( Out of curiosity, where do you live?

I would just try to be a considerate and careful cyclist. If you're used to riding, then you are used to being aware of crazy stuff that could happen around you.If you live in an area that makes you ask this question, the drivers might not know how to deal with cyclists. They might not think to look for you, or if they do see you, they could assume they always have the right-of-way. It's probably the same in your regular commute. They might have their guards down a little more in the familiarity of their bicycle-free neighbourhood.

But, no, it is not bad etiquette to ride your bike on public streets.


If you do it naked, it will probably be considered bad etiquette. (Remember Bicycle Race by Queen?)

I guess nobody in your city ever uses a bike?! In the 1800s people were afraid that trains would scare cows along the rail track, and make milk go sour. Nowadays we know this is not true. Biking through urban areas won't make anyone's milk sour! ;-)

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