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Bicycling Event Safety Information

Prepare for Bicycling Events

Safety Rules

  • See Traffic Laws for Motorists from the Maryland State Highway Administration
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • A stop sign means STOP.
  • A red light means STOP.
  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Do not cross yellow lines.
  • Be verbal – Give warning when passing. (“On your left!”, “Stopping” etc.).
  • Ride in single file. Do not develop pace lines/draft other bicyclists.
  • Signal all turns.
  • Move your bike (and yourself) off the road when you have a flat or mechanical failure.
  • Do not use headphones or your cell phone while biking. Keep both hands on your handlebars. Singing is allowed.
  • Stay about three feet away from parked cars to avoid the “door zone.”
  • Cross railroad tracks at a right angle or walk your bike across them.
  • Act respectful to those around you, to community members, to pedestrians and to vehicle drivers!
  • Smile. Bicycling is fun!

Seven Steps to Check Your Bicycle’s Safety

  • Visit a local bicycle shop to have a “safety check” performed. This will allow the shop mechanics to give a thorough look-over before suggesting what services might be needed to ensure a safe bicycle ride!
  • Use a proper sized bicycle.
  • Check to see if your bike seat is adjusted to the proper height. When you are sitting on the seat with your foot on the pedal, your leg should be slightly bent. This will help avoid knee strain.
  • Make sure you have a reflector on the front and rear of your bike. The rear should be red and should be at least three inches across. Make sure the reflector is pointed straight back to reflect the headlights of cars that are coming up behind you.
  • Bike chain to be clean and lubricated. If it is not, take it to the local bike shop for a check up.
  • Check your brakes for even pressure. They should make your back wheels skid on dry pavement, but you do not want brakes that stick.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Etiquette to Remember Before Riding in a Bike Event

  • Bike events/tours are held on county and city streets. Routes are typically supported with SAG (support and gear) vehicles and are not always closed to traffic.
  • Ride in the right-hand lane and follow the given cue sheet and directions of ride marshals stationed at intersections.
  • Faster cyclists should ride on the left, and slower cyclists should ride on the right. Please ride in a straight line and don’t drift from side to side. **Very important to remember when riding with children.
  • If a rider is approaching you on your left, he or she will say “On the left!” If they are approaching you from behind on the right, they will say “On the right!” Please listen for this, and also use it if you are approaching someone from behind.
  • Experienced riders will either point or shake their hand at glass or other hazards on the ground. If you see someone in front of you doing this, look out for a hazard and shout it out, “Glass!”, “Tracks!”, “Rock!”, “Pothole!”, “Ice!”, “Look out!”.
  • Do your part to share the road with cars, pedestrians, mail trucks, tractors, buggies, wild animals that might be crossing, etc. Your cooperation will save lives.
  • Be aware of other cyclists around you at all times. Don’t make abrupt stops or change direction suddenly.
  • Ride in a straight line and look to your right and left before making a turn. Someone might be coming up behind you.
  • Ensure your shoelaces are tied and any other hanging objects are secured before you begin the ride.
  • Talk to your children about these rules. Kids will definitely be excited about any ride and they should follow the same rules as adults.
  • If your bike breaks down or you fall, ask for help when needed.
  • In case of emergency call 911.

Get Yourself Ready for Long Rides!

  • Wear a properly fitting helmet
  • Get your bike in shape, using the safety checklist below.
  • Start cycling well in advance of event day so that your body is ready for the ride.
  • Bring one or more water bottles or a hydration system. Mount a water bottle cage on your bike, and learn to reach down and drink from it while you are riding, so that you can keep hydrated during the event. Fill another water bottle with a sports drink for added energy.
  • Pack a rain jacket. Bicycling events goes on, rain or shine.
  • Pack energy snacks (nutrition bars, trail mix, nuts, chocolate, PB&J)
  • Pack a few basic bike repair tools, including a spare inner tube that is the right size for your bike and a pump. Even if you do not know how to fix a flat, it will be easier get help if you have these tools with you.
  • Bring personal identification, and some money for phone calls, if you do not have a mobile phone. Pack some sun screen and minor first aid supplies.
  • If you are riding with kids, prepare them for the ride, and make a plan in case you get separated. You may want to establish a contact person whom you both can call.
  • Learn to ride predictably without weaving between parked cars or stopping suddenly. Stay on your left; as you pass others so as not to surprise them or yourself.