For the most part, bikes are allowed on roadways. One of the large exceptions is the interstate. Cyclists are not allowed on the nation’s interstate.
There is always the question of whether you, the cyclist, wants to be on that particular stretch of road. There are several, twisty, two-lane highways with no shoulders that I frequently rode as a teenage cyclist.
Was it legal for me to be there? Absolutely.
Smart? Not so much. I would regularly be passed by semi trucks trying to avoid weigh stations and dump trucks on their way to deliver gravel or lime to the local farmers.
If you do have one of these stretches of roads, it can make just as much sense to proactively pull to the side of the road when traffic approaches. You can’t guarantee that drivers will play it safe.
Rule Of The Road
Perhaps we will do complete rules of the road post here soon.
One of the key things to remember is that a cyclist is supposed to ride in the same direction as the traffic. This helps them to see walkers and runners and enables them to flow predictably.
When you ride with the traffic, cars can ride slowly behind you and wait for a safe margin to pass. If you violate this, then you force cars to stop in traffic and allow you to pass on the side. This can create an unsafe situation for both you and them.
Learning the proper hand signals can let you communicate with the drivers and give them an indication of the actions you are taking.
We cover it in more detail, but riding abreast is mostly prohibited unless you are in a shared lane. If you are riding abreast, be proactive about getting into single file when vehicles approach.
Finally, stopping for stop lights and signs is one of the basic courtesies of sharing the road. It is challenging to stop on a bicycle as you have to unclip and put a foot down.
However, refusing to obey the law in this area is one of the greatest reasons for officers to issue citations to cyclists. It also tends to foster ill will between drivers and cyclists when drivers watch them ignore signage.
Finally, it almost goes without saying, but burn the dark clothes. Black and brown jerseys are excellent for the Off Road. They are a poor choice for road cycling.
You may not want to wear safety yellow at all times, but choosing jerseys with orange, white and yellow in them can help drivers see you more easily.
I also use a bright flashing LEDs to help increase my visibility, even during daylight riding. Perhaps it is overkill, but for a $40 light that is USB rechargeable, I figure I can’t go wrong.
Sharing the road is about keeping everyone safe. Choose off-peak riding times and plan your course around popular vehicle routes. Cyclists are the slower vehicle, and we owe it to ourselves to get out of the car’s way.
After all, they aren’t the ones who are gonna’ wake up dead if someone makes a mistake.