Spring is upon us and hordes of fair-weather cyclists are starting to emerge from their sheds, blinking in the bright morning light and gingerly joining the well-travelled bicycle paths into the CBD.
This is a great time of year to be on two wheels. You can ride everywhere in a t-shirt and the critical mass of bikes keeps cars on their best behaviour. But more bikes on the road means we all need to be nicer to each other, so spread the love and follow our Top 9 Cycling Etiquette Tips for new riders and more seasoned campaigners alike:
1. Running reds is bad
This is the big obvious one. Yes, you’ll save a few seconds but it ruins it for everybody. Aside from being dangerous and opening you up to a fine, it gives drivers a “legitimate” reason to hate everyone on a bike. Just wait a bit and work on your standing starts.
2. Jumping the queue at lights is also bad
Some people think it’s OK to just roll up to the front of a long line of cyclists waiting for a light to change. Well, it’s not - even Mark Cavendish has the manners to join the queue (I assume). Everyone will bust their lungs to beat you and then heap righteous scorn on you as they pass. Bad vibes all round.
3. Hand signal the drafting rider behind
Nobody likes the freeloading drafter behind, but you don’t want a crash either. If someone is on your back wheel to draft off your hard work, you should consider using your hands to signal an imminent stop or turn. If you’re about to pull over suddenly, a glance over your shoulder may be enough to signal that something is about to change and distance is required.
4. Riding on the footpath is for kids under 12
You should be riding on the road or marked bike path unless you’re under 12 or are in charge of someone under that age. If you are on the footpath though, remember that pedestrians always have right of way and people don’t generally expect you to be there – so be careful.
5. Avoid unexpected expectoration
Cycling clears the airways which is a wonderful thing, but check for a safe blast zone before unleashing. That’s quite enough about that one.
6. Brighter is not always better
Does everyone you pass on the bike path at night end up careening into the bushes? Your light is too bright. Tilt it down a bit, choose a lower setting or buy something else and save that light for the night trail rides. Anything over 1,000 lumens is too much for on-road use. We've got a great selection of bike lights that are perfect for low-lit commuting.
7. Look when locking up
Don’t inadvertently lock your neighbour’s bike to the rack with your lock. They won’t thank you for the added security (even if you've got an awesome bike lock) when you saunter back 3 hours later.
8. Right fallen bikes
This move earns double karma points. If a locked bike has fallen over on the footpath, it is the nice thing to do if you straighten it up before a drunk kicks the wheels in.
9. Pump up a newbie
If you see an ill-prepared newbie walking their flat bike home, perhaps offer them a pump/spare tube and a free lesson in learning how to look after themselves. They’ll immediately feel welcomed into the brotherhood and will be honour-bound to pass the good deed on one day.
We all love the open road with nobody else in sight, but this is an unrealistic expectation for your daily commute. Instead focus on the significant upside to welcoming more people to the wonderful world of bikes! The more cyclists on the road, the more legitimacy cycling earns as a mainstream transport option and the more money, protections and infrastructure it receives. Help make everyone’s commute a joy and we’re all winners.