Bike safety 101
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Know the rules of the road to stay safe and have a good time while riding your bike.
When you ride, make sure drivers can see you and keep your movements predictable so they can anticipate what you will do next.
Obey traffic signs and lights
- Want motorists' respect? Obey the same traffic laws they obey.
- Stop at red lights and stop signs.
Never ride against traffic
- Motorists aren't looking for bikes riding on the wrong side of the road.
- To be most visible and safe, ride with traffic.
Don't weave between parked cars
- Ride consistently.
- Stay as close to the parked cars as is safely possible.
- Always scan parked vehicles for people who may open a door in your path.
Ride in or pull into the middle of the lane only when required
- You can ride in the middle of the lane at busy intersections or when riding at the same speed as motor vehicles.
- Also, you may need to pull into the lane if you are passing, turning left, avoiding hazards or riding in a narrow lane.
- Pull into the middle of the lane, in front of automobile traffic, at intersections with green-painted bike boxes on the pavement.
Use hand signals to let drivers know your intentions
- You are required to signal 100 feet before turning at an intersection.
- You don't have to keep your arm out through the turn if you need both hands on the handlebars to keep control of your bicycle.
Two ways to turn left correctly
- Signal and turn left from the traffic lane.
- Keep right until the far corner of the intersection, then turn the bike and wait until clear (or the light changes) before crossing.
Use bicycle traffic detection devices
- Stop on top of small, white bicycle decals in the pavement at intersections which indicate electronic detectors.
- Placing your wheel over it will trigger the traffic signal.
Go slowly on sidewalks
- Yield to pedestrians.
- Provide an audible warning as you prepare to pass, such as "on your left" or "on your right."
- Biking is not allowed on sidewalks in downtown Portland.
To stay safe when you bike, ride defensively and expect the unexpected.
Use caution when passing
- Pass slowed or stopped traffic on the right only when it's safe to do so.
- Be careful when overtaking cars.
- Stay out of a motorist's blind spot and be wary that a driver may not signal when turning.
Watch out for a vehicle pulling into your path
- Assume a motorist pulling out of a driveway may not see you.
- A stopped motorist at a cross street may also be unaware of you.
- Slow down and make eye contact with the driver before continuing.
Know what's behind you
- Train yourself to look over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving.
- Use a rearview mirror.
- Rearview mirrors can be attached to your handlebars, helmet or glasses.
Avoid road hazards
- Cross rail tracks at a right angle so your tire won't get stuck.
- Oily pavement, wet leaves, gravel and ice can cause your tires to slip.
- Sewer grates and manhole covers can also be slippery.
- Ride around large puddles; they may hide a pothole.
Look for green bike boxes at intersections
- Green bike boxes are painted on the pavement at select intersections.
- At red lights, pull into the box in the traffic lane and stop there.
- Bike boxes make you more visible to drivers.
Become familiar with cycle tracks
- Cycle tracks are lanes exclusively for people on bikes, separated from vehicle lanes and sidewalks by pavement markings or coloring, curbs or medians, a parking lane, posts or other barriers, or a combination of these elements.
- When riding in a cycle track, be watchful when approaching a driveway or cross street.
- At intersections, be watchful of pedestrians who may be unfamiliar with cycle tracks and step into your path.
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