How to properly bicycle

As a cyclist who commuted to school and work every day before my knee surgery, I have been through it all. Crashes, flat tires, near misses, insane drivers, insane cyclists and, of course, my own personal stupid mistakes.

Keeping safe as a bicycle commuter is top priority, and you don’t realize how important it is until you’ve been doing it for some time.

We cyclists hate those awful human beings who drive those big death machines that were only put on this earth by the Creator of the Universe to kill cyclists and pollute the earth.

And as a driver, we hate those dumb cyclists who keep taking up our road. If you can’t keep up with traffic, then you shouldn’t be here.

Blah, blah, blah, we’re all wrong, except when we adamantly scream at the top of our lungs and throw a QuikTrip cup out of our moving vehicles to hit a cyclist. Or when we get to the stoplight and kick the side of a car before cycling into the crowd.

Both sides can inhabit the roads in a better way. All too often do I see cyclists who don’t know how to ride well and make stupid mistakes, and I see drivers who think they own the land. Can’t we give peace a chance?

I know this has been a rivalry as fierce as the one between Palestinians and Israelis, but maybe if we can co-exist, they will too.

For one thing, if you’re on a bicycle you should ride on the right-hand side of the road.

I understand the thought process of going against traffic; you’ll see the cars coming. Sure, you’ll see the cars coming, but you won’t be able to do anything about it. You’ll just see what hit you.

Once, a few friends and I were riding against traffic on the sidewalk and a police truck was pulling out of the Dutch Bros. on Camelback Road and Central Avenue. As the leader of our peloton, I assumed he saw us so I passed him first, completely fine.

My buddy on the other hand, who was second in line, was hit by the officer’s vehicle as it pulled out. The officer didn’t see him.

Fortunately, my friend and the bike were completely fine and one of the first things the officer said was, “Aren’t you supposed to be riding with traffic?”

The officer and my friend were lucky because no one was hurt. So, when you’re riding with traffic, the cars will see you and they’re anticipating you. So, like, start doing it?

“Cyclists have the very same rights and responsibilities as motorists,” according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

That right there is music to my ears. As a cyclist, you should obey traffic signs, signal your lane change plans with your hands and you can use the road. But in slower traffic, cyclists must stick to the right side of the road.

Drivers need to understand we’re within our full right of the law to ride on the road, even when there isn’t a bike lane.

There are times, though, when you shouldn’t be riding your bike on the road. Cyclists need to know where the bike lanes are, so they can start using them.

If you’re traveling north in downtown Phoenix you should use Third Avenue because there is a wonderful bike lane there and no one uses it. Don’t use Third Street and ride on the road or Central Avenue during high traffic because you’re putting yourself at risk. There is a better route.

The biggest thing, beside realizing I should ride with a helmet and knowing where the best routes are for cyclists, was learning to never assume anything on the road.

Err to caution and assume every driver on the road has not seen you yet. Like with my police truck story, I should not have assumed the officer saw us.

Drivers must realize we don’t trust them and it is no one’s fault. It’s a part of life. I’d rather hold up traffic for a moment than assume the guy turning left into my lane saw me.

Because at the end of the day we’re all trying to get home safe, so let's all be civil.

Reach the writer via twitter @jesse_millard or at jamillar@asu.edu.


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