Rules of the Road

road riding on a bike

Rules of the Road

Whether you're going for a dedicated road ride, riding a mixed surface route on your gravel bike, or getting to and from the trailhead on your mountain bike, it's important to know how to safely (and legally) ride on the road.

Here are some tips:

1) Follow local bicycle traffic laws. Laws vary in each state, so check in with your local/state advocacy group to learn more about laws in your area. Brush up on the laws in California here.

2) Ride with traffic. Ride on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, and when the right lane is closed due to road construction, etc. Keep in mind that riding on sidewalks is illegal in most places. Also, be sure to move out of the right turn lane at intersections if you're not turning right to allow cars to make the turn.

3) Make your intentions clear. Signal your planned actions so motorists know your intentions, and make eye contact with drivers whenever possible.

4) Be conspicuous. Ride with a taillight and front headlight on dedicated road/urban rides, and wear brightly colored clothing.

5) Be vigilant and alert at all times. For your safety, try to anticipate what drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians will do next. Be on alert for turning vehicles, ride outside the door zone of parked cars, and keep an eye out for debris, potholes, and other hazards on the roadway. If you're riding with a group, point out obstacles to riders behind you with a hand signal.

6) Map a safe route to avoid busy streets. Look for bicycle-friendly routes using Google and other map apps, which will highlight bike paths and lanes, and safer roadways. Or, follow signs for designated bike routes in some areas.

For more, check out REI's road riding guide.