Ride Etiquette

Courtesy of The League of American Bicyclists

Part 1: Bike Path and Trail Etiquette


Recreational paths and trails have become quite popular. As a result, trails have become very congested and safety is a major issue. Whether bicycling, walking, or jogging, following the same rules as everyone else will help you have a safer, more enjoyable time.

Trails have engineering and design limitations that require you to ride differently than you would on the road. If your preferred speed or style of cycling is inappropriate for trails, look for better suited alternative routes.

Be Courteous
All trail users, including bicyclists, joggers, and wheelchair users, should be respectful of other users, regardless of their mode of travel, speed, or skill level.

Give an Audible Signal When Passing
Give a clear signal when passing. This signal may be a bell, horn, or voice. Warn in advance so that you have time to maneuver if necessary. “Passing on your left” is the most common signal used to alert other users of your approach.

Yield When Entering & Crossing Other Trails
When entering or crossing a trail at trail intersections, yield to traffic on the cross trail or road. This is often the most dangerous point on a trail.

Keep Right
Stay as close to the right side of the trail as is safe, except when passing another user.

Pass on Left
Pass others who are going your direction on their left. Look ahead and behind to make sure the lane is clear before pulling out. Pass with ample separation. Do not move back to the right until safely past. Fast-moving users are responsible for yielding to slower moving users.

Be Predictable
Walk and ride straight. Indicate when you are turning. Warn other trail users of your intentions.

Use Lights at Night
If the trail is open and you are using it between dusk and dawn, you must be equipped with lights. Bikes need a white front light and a red rear light or reflector. Reflectors and reflective clothing are no help if there is no source of light.

Do Not Block the Trail
When riding in a group, use no more than half the trail. On many heavy-use trails, this means that all users will need to stay single file. And if you stop to regroup, always do it off the trail.

Clean up Litter
Do not leave any debris along the trail. If you drop something, please pick it up and carry it until you find a litter receptacle. Go the extra mile—pack out more trash than you bring in.

Part 2: Group Riding


There is a certain cycling etiquette of which you should be aware whenever cycling in a group.

Be Predictable
Group riding requires even more attention to predictability than riding alone. Other riders expect you to continue straight ahead at a constant speed unless you indicate differently.

Use Signals
Use hand and verbal signals to communicate with others in the group and with motorists.

Give Warnings
Warn cyclists behind you of changes in direction or speed. The lead rider should call out “left” or “right,” in addition to a hand signal. The lead rider should announce the turn well in advance of the intersection, so members of the group have time to position themselves properly for the turn.

Change Positions Correctly
Try to pass others on their left. Say “on your left” to warn others that you are passing. If you need to pass someone on the right, say “on you right” clearly since this is an unusual maneuver.

Announce Hazards in a Group
Most of the cyclists will not have a good view of the road surface ahead, so it is important to announce hazards. Indicate hazards by pointing down to the left or right and shouting, “hole,” “bump,” etc. Everyone should be made aware of hazards, however everyone does not need to announce them.

Watch For Traffic Coming From The Rear
Even when you are occupying the proper lane position, it often helps to know when a car is coming. Since those in front cannot see traffic approaching from the rear, it is the responsibility of the riders in back to inform the others by saying “car back.” Around curves, on narrow roads, or when riding double, it is also helpful to warn of traffic approaching from ahead with “car up.”

Watch Out At Intersections
When approaching intersections requiring vehicles to yield or stop, the lead rider should say “slowing” or “stopping” to alert those behind them. When passing through an intersection, some bicyclists say, “clear” if there is no cross traffic. This is a dangerous practice. It encourages riders to let others do their thinking for them. Each bicyclist is responsible for his or her own safety.

Leave a Gap for Cars
When riding up hills or on narrow roads, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. This way a motorist can use shorter passing intervals and move around the entire group.

Move Off the Road When You Stop
Move well off the road so you do not interfere with traffic. When you start again, each bicyclist should look for, and yield to, traffic.

Ride Single File or Two Abreast
Ride single- or double-file as appropriate to the roadway, traffic conditions, and where allowed by law. Most state vehicle codes permit narrow vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles to ride double-file within the lane. Even where riding double is legal, courtesy dictates that you single up when cars are trying to pass you if the lane is wide enough for them to safely do so.

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