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I have interest in biking to and from work, but have heard some horror stories from cyclists at work.

Short of asking coworkers on safe cycling practices, where should I go for a more authoritative source of how to practice safe cycling?

For example:

  • Cyclists sometimes use the cross walk and sometimes using the road's turning lanes. Which is appropriate, and when?
  • Should a cyclist use a road without a shoulder or bike lane?
  • What gear is essential for safety?
  • Are there exceptions to driving in the same direction as traffic?

closed as too broad by paparazzo, Argenti Apparatus, whatsisname, David Richerby, jimchristie Dec 4 '17 at 14:34

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This is too many questions for one Question, but before it gets closed, you might check the links in the Related column at the right --> Some of your questions are answered over there. – shoover Dec 2 '17 at 0:02
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    Asking coworkers is actually a better idea than asking here, because they will be familiar with your locale's customs and idiosyncrasies. – John Zwinck Dec 2 '17 at 2:04
  • A lot of this will be highly dependent on your country, and possibly even your city. Whether you're allowed on the crosswalk on a bike will depend on local laws. – Criggie Dec 2 '17 at 9:26
  • Find someone at work who lives in your general direction, and ask if you can "bike pool" into work together. – Criggie Dec 2 '17 at 9:35
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    can you add the country where you live? This could help us give more context to the answer – L.Dutch Dec 2 '17 at 18:15
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From my experience, the single most important point is properly choosing your route. Google maps and the satellite view are your friends.

For example, there is a 2x2 lanes road nearby. I see cyclists there quite often when I drive. It is an extremely dangerous road, 90 km/h, big lorries, no shoulder. There is a smaller, parallel road though. It is very nice for cycling. It runs through the countryside, has trees which provide shadow in the summer, you can even hear the birds sing... and it has very low traffic, because you can drive much faster on the 2x2 lanes road.

Every time I see a cyclist candidate for suicide by lorry, I wonder... U NO HAVE GOOGLE MAPS?

So, if you're used to traveling by car, forget about the routes you know. The safest cycling route could be much shorter, perhaps a bit longer, but it is almost guaranteed to be completely different from your usual car route. Maybe you will have to walk down some stairs, or become a pedestrian for a few seconds to dodge a dangerous part. Try to consider all your options.

What gear is essential for safety?

Besides the helmet, the most important is being noticed by drivers who are typing a text while lighting a cigarette. So that would be a safety fluorescent yellow or orange reflective vest on top of your normal clothes, plus a front and rear light.

enter image description here

Some drivers would need to get their eyes checked...

enter image description here

In my case, bright orange vest + bright red LED blinkie on the rear cut down the number of "I didn't see you!" from once a week to once a year. It works!

Besides that, check your local regulations for what is allowed or not. Feel free to ignore them (with moderation) if it is safer, for example it is usually much safer to be the last vehicle to cross an intersection instead of being the first with all the cars behind you.

Some other very important rules:

  • Stay one door length away from any stopped car.

From the inside of the car, it is difficult to see if a cyclist is coming, especially for someone who sits in the rear of the car, since they don't have a mirror. Also, no-one looks into the mirror.

Thus, keep your distances. That way when a door will inevitably open in front of you, you will not crash into it. You will simply ride past without having to swerve into traffic (and under a bus) to dodge the opening door.

For example, this bike lane is designed to kill you. You'd have to ride on the dashed line, or smash into a door.

enter image description here

  • Notice where danger might come from, and expect it.

A kid will always step right in front of you from behind that big truck which blocks your view (or behind anything else that blocks your view, bus stop, publicity panel, whatever). If there are buildings, then one of the doors will open and a lady pushing a stroller will come out. If there is a parking exit, then a car will come out. I've even had a car come out of the entry of the underground parking lot right in front of me, completely oblivious of the fact they were crossing a bike lane.

Thus your speed and position on the road should take this into account. Too far right and you will see the surprise a bit later, too fast and you won't have time to stop.

Someone will step from behind that bus stop and into your path:

enter image description here

...and when you swerve to avoid them, your wheel will hit the curb thoughtfully placed there by the designers, and you will crash. In this case, ride on the sidewalk on the left of the bike lane and give a wide berth to the bus stop. Yes it's illegal. Who cares. Always look out for the tiny stupid bits of curb that seem to grow out of the tarmac everywhere, if you take them at the wrong angle you will fly. Another reason why fat slick tyres are a nice thing for city riding.

This is an example of a crossing where drivers crossing your path won't see you because of a brick wall. Thus you must think for them.

  • Never sway to the left without looking

If you hear nothing, you still get run over by a Prius.

  • Thus, never ride to much on the right if there is a possibility that you will have to dodge something (like a pothole). It's OK to dodge the pothole by riding closer to the curb... but not the other way around unless you look over your shoulder for that sneaky Prius.

  • Make sure both brakes brake.

  • If you feel unsafe, pick another route.
  • If a car does not have its turn signals on, it will turn anyway
  • Sometimes, cycling infrastructure requires a full suspension MTB (or just use the road instead, seriously)

enter image description here

  • Sometimes, cycling infrastructure is designed to kill you.

In this case, you will need to look over your shoulder to check for cars coming from the left, while also dodging the bollards. Also, a dog will run into you from the right. If you're a beginner, dismount and cross as a pedestrian. Note the bollards are dark grey, not reflective, and thus rather difficult to see at night...

enter image description here

...also if you follow the arrow, you will end up into a curb. Bummer.

Picture this with pedestrians and other cyclists hiding the bollards. I would just ride on the road:

enter image description here

Anyway. Cycling is pretty safe if you are careful and aware of your surroundings. I gave these examples to make you focus on the issues of visibility, line of sight, murderous cycling infrastructure, and anticipating what will happen.

When there is an open garage door, a car will come out of it. Maybe not today... but if you adjust your speed and position as if it was going to happen, when it eventually does (and it will) you're not surprised and simply come to a soft stop. Riding safely like this might cost you a couple minutes... not a problem ;)

Have a nice ride!

  • If a person or a kid steps out behind a car, truck, corner into your way in majority of cases it is much better to hit the person while bracing on bike. Lower your head to make sure you hit with top of the helmet. Chances are much better than steering away and getting under the bus. People are soft and you bump and stop nicely. – Val Dec 3 '17 at 11:46
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    I'd argue that it's much better to go at proper speed to stop before hitting them ;) – peufeu Dec 3 '17 at 12:21
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You might buy (or check out in a public library) "Effective Cycling" by John Forester (MIT Press). It is quite good. Unfortunately you didn't give the locale or town you are in. Most areas have a cycling club of different ways, and you could contact each one as to their advice and purpose. Often a city has general advice and maps for cyclists. Even bike shops take some care with this topic.

  • The (traffic) police might have information on the local cycling regulations, either on-line or with printed flyers. – Carel Dec 2 '17 at 16:31
  • Also, the League of American Bicyclists may be able to connect you to safe-cycling training programs in your area, if you're in the USA. – Adam Rice Dec 3 '17 at 5:40
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An informative youtube channel by a St Louis bike commuter "BikeBlogger" He posts frequently discussing all aspects of bike commuting while he rides to and from work. Good video with good audio quality. https://www.youtube.com/user/BikeBlogger

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    Welcome to the site! Could you be a bit more specific? The question is specifically asking about cycling safety information, so "Take a look at this guy's video blogs" isn't really specific enough as an answer. In general, we're looking for answers that aren't just links to other sites, though I completely understand why you answered this particular question in that way (IMO, it's not a question that's very well suited to this particular site). I think it would help a lot if you could pick out a couple of the most relevant videos and also give a brief summary of what's in them... – David Richerby Dec 4 '17 at 14:05
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    ... -- a couple of sentences would be fine. Thanks! – David Richerby Dec 4 '17 at 14:05
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    David is right - lets say youtube goes away, and then your answer becomes stale. Its happened before with other answers. the waybackmachine doesn't archive video either. I understand that hours of video can't be summarised in a couple lines, but do have a go. – Criggie Dec 5 '17 at 10:13
  • Welcome to Bicycles SE. We prefer answers on this site to be self-contained. That way, the answer is still valid if the link dies. Please summarize what information is contained in the link within the body of your answer. Otherwise, it is likely to be downvoted, flagged for moderator intervention, and possibly deleted. – jimchristie Dec 5 '17 at 17:06

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