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Eight Rules of the Road for Cyclists Who Want to Show Their Street Smarts

Colorado is an active state, no doubt about it. Every year we either have the lowest rate of obesity, or we’re bitter about losing out to those skinny bitches in Massachusetts. And we’re by and large environmentally conscious, too. Put those two factors together, and you have the reason why there are a whole lot of bikes on the streets every day. 

But here’s the thing: Many of those folks on bikes act like asshats. Not all of them, but enough to give bicyclists in general a bad name — whether because they're displaying passive-aggressive behavior or just exercising an indulgent sense of entitlement. In any case, it can be maddening to “share the road” with everyone who chucks their motor vehicles, buys a bike and joins the ranks of the decisively two-wheeled. But, really, can’t we all just get along?

The answer is yes. Here are eight ways how.

8. Follow the Rules of the Road
One of the biggest complaints of drivers is that bicyclists often completely ignore the traffic laws that do, in fact, cover them. Yes, it seems silly to stop a bike at a traffic light when there’s clearly no cross traffic. But you know who else thinks that? All the cars patiently waiting for the light to turn green. I’ve heard bikers claim, “Hey, stopping would impede my momentum” or the like, but they're ignoring the fact that the same holds true for motor vehicles, and whether or not you want to stop for that sign or light has no bearing on whether or not you’re obligated to stop. In short: If bikers want to be protected by traffic law —and they should be — then they need to respect and follow that law, too.

7. Go With the Flow
When I was a kid, I used to think it was a good idea to bike against the direction of traffic — but this was based on the theory that “at least that way I’ll see what’s coming.” While it has some logic to it, it’s far safer to bike in the direction of traffic. 
6. Be Willing to Dismount
Yes, of course, it seems silly to walk your bike in certain areas — but again, these posted rules aren’t just suggestions. For the sake of safety, bikers are required to get up off their seats and walk their bikes in areas where pedestrian traffic is concentrated, difficult to ascertain in terms of pattern, or both. Either way, the rule is pretty simple: If the sign says “Don’t bike here,” then don’t.

5. Don’t Bike on the Sidewalk
Sidewalks are for foot traffic, not for bikes. Sometimes bikers can get away with this, when car traffic is heavy or in spots with relatively few pedestrians around, or if they’re seven years old. But generally speaking, you shouldn't leave the roadway for the sidewalk just because you want to. After all, if bikes want to be treated the same as cars and trucks and motorcycles, it should be noted that none of those vehicles are allowed to just jump the curb to get around a traffic line.

Keep reading for four more bicycle rules of the road.
 

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen