Gini Dietrich

Seven Tips for Sharing the Road with Cyclists

By: Gini Dietrich | July 3, 2012 | 

I know this has nothing to do with PR, marketing, or anything digital, but it’s important to me. And, I figured, it’s a holiday in the U.S. tomorrow and Canadians are coming back to work today, so I don’t think you’ll mind.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a pretty avid cyclist. I’m not one of the best, but I definitely can hold my own. I ride nearly every day, no matter if I’m traveling or have the comfort of my fitted Trek Madone 5.2. I got my love of cycling from my dad. I started out running marathons, but didn’t really love it. I had severe asthma when I ran and I had to force myself out there. The I had my knee scoped twice and the doctor politely suggested I find something else to do.

So, eight years ago, I followed my dad, switched sports, got a coach, and started riding. The first time I rode with clipless pedals, I fell over and cut my leg open so badly I should have gotten stitches (big scar there now). But that didn’t deter me! I got right back up and tried again. And that was all she wrote.

It’s been a particularly good riding season this year. Maybe it’s because it was warm enough to be outside in March (unheard of) or because I switched from riding at 5:30 a.m. to noon. It’s a fantastic way to clear your head in the middle of the day and I’m sporting a serious (but ridiculous) cycling tan.

After writing a book last year (cough, Marketing in the Round, cough) and not getting out as much as I like, I’m in racing shape again this year and have fallen back in love with my bike (I would marry it, if I could).

But, as much as I love it, it’s reminded me of what jerks people can be in their cars. Just yesterday, I was in the freaking bike lane and a guy in his SUV, without turning on his signal or giving me any indication he was going to turn right, came into the bike lane to turn, as I was going straight. If it had been three seconds sooner, he would have hit me.

My biggest fear is I will get doored because no one looks in their side mirror before opening the door of their parked car into the bike lane. I have these visions of my riding right into someone’s door and coming off my bike over the hood of the car. It scares the crap out of me.

So, with that in mind, I’ve put together some tips for watching out for cyclists this holiday week:

  • Bikes belong in the bike lane. Cars do not belong there. And bikes are not allowed on sidewalks. Be mindful of that fact.
  • Cyclists, by law, can ride two abreast and it is the courtesy of the car to go around them.
  • Honking your horn at a cyclist is almost as bad as hitting them. Have you ever walked across the street and have the car you’re passing honk their horn? It scares you so badly, you jump. Same thing on a bike, but a cyclist could easily fall off their bike and under your tires.
  • When you come to a four-way stop and have the right of way, freaking drive your car. The cyclist cannot breeze through the sign, but many cars will just sit there waiting to see what he or she will do. If you just sit there, the cyclist is going to take their turn and then you get mad because they didn’t have the right of way. Follow the same rules of the road as if the cyclist were a car.
  • If you are going to cross the bike lane to make a turn, look in your mirrors for cyclists, just like you would another car. And use your signal. It tells us what you’re going to do as much as it does another car.
  • Turning left in front of a cyclist is as dangerous as doing it in front of an oncoming car. Wait the extra three seconds for the cyclist to pass.
  • And, for the love of all things good and great, please, please, please look in your mirrors before opening the door to get out of your car.

I know some of you will say, “But Gini, cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road.” Yes, I know. It kind of makes me nuts to see guys (I’ve never seen a woman cyclist do this) weaving in and out of traffic and going through red lights. I’ll write a blog post for them next.

Some of my cycling friends will have additional tips, which I’ll ask them to leave in the comments below.

In the meantime, be safe. Have a good holiday (no blog post tomorrow!). And watch out for cyclists on the road!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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  • Yeah, getting used to clipless pedals laid me out once or twice, too. 🙂 
    My uncle used to race semi-pro all through Europe when he was in his late teens – early twenties. Under the Polish government (communist, at the time), a national team didn’t officially exist – so he was paid to work a clerk job on paper to race. 

    •  @jasonkonopinski That’s a crazy story! I would love to hear more about that time. 

      •  @ginidietrich Oh yeah, he has some stories for sure. He’s my mom’s middle brother and my godfather, so I’ve always had a special relationship with him. He lived with us until I was three before striking out on his own, so to speak.  
        Growing up in Poland, he talks about using abandoned tanks as playground equipment. The German army literally left bunkers full of uniforms and ammunition behind after WWII.  
        There were lots of cycling clubs in Poland during those years, so he got started cycling when he was probably ten years old. He doesn’t enter many races any more, but still hits the trainer pretty hard in the basement. 🙂 

        •  @jasonkonopinski Jason. You have to get these stories written down and write a book. Or at least record them while he’s telling stories. And write a book. WRITE A BOOK!

        •  @ginidietrich I am. Slowly. 

        •  @ginidietrich <in my best “Yes, Aunt Gini” voice>. 

  • Hughusrdnvw
  • You should come to Canada – cyclists are allowed on the sidewalk. Although Toronto motorists are still mostly assholes.

    •  @Danny Brown I don’t want to ride on the sidewalk! I want to ride on the road, where I belong, without motorists trying to run me off the road.

      • bobledrew

         @ginidietrich  @Danny Brown Forgot my other giant pet peeve: Harley-Davidson bikes with incredibly loud exhausts and riders who seem to think it’s funny to go past you as closely as possible. Might as well be riding next to a howitzer

        •  @bobledrew  My friend rustyspeidel told me yesterday a diesel truck rev’d the gas, popped the clutch, and coated all the riders behind him in a thick, black exhaust. Because that’s necessary. 

  • ginidietrich

    @michandwalker It’s scary and it makes me angry. I’m pretty sure no one really wants to hit a cyclist

    • michandwalker

      @ginidietrich True. I’ve had to back to normal pedals, clips too scary downtown

      • ginidietrich

        @michandwalker My first year of riding in the city with clipless pedals, I never clipped in on my left side. 🙂

        • michandwalker

          @ginidietrich Pretty much what I did last year. Then I fell right in the middle of Kent St #Duh

        • ginidietrich

          @michandwalker LOL! That’s only funny now.

  • ginidietrich

    @bdorman264 Yeah!

  • ginidietrich

    @DannyBrown Are you being nice this early? I don’t know how to handle that.

    • DannyBrown

      @ginidietrich I’m in a good mood. Scary thought. 🙂

      • ginidietrich

        @DannyBrown Are you still in a good mood?

  • I try to be a good friend to cyclists on the road, so I’m glad you’ll address the rules for cyclists at some point. Almost killed a guy yesterday who went thru a redlight.
    I actually nearly lose my life every day as a pedestrian. A constant battle with motorists who don’t understand that it’s the law to stop and yield at crosswalks. I might have to rant about that one at some point.

    •  @KenMueller It truly makes me nuts to see cyclists not obeying the rules of the road. I’m not a saint, by any means, but I never blow through red lights. Why take such a big risk?

      •  @ginidietrich When I see a cyclist not obeying the rules of the road, I just toss dirty diapers at them. I keep a box full in the car just for that purpose.

        • bobledrew

           @KenMueller  @ginidietrich You win the prize for most well-researched and historically-referential comment ever. 

        •  @bobledrew  @ginidietrich I like to bring all of Gini’s worlds together, in a cross-platform sort of way.

  • bobledrew

    Actually, @Danny Brown , 
    I’ve either been good or lucky to have had only one incident with a car in my years of riding – a gentleman missed a red light and we collided. At low speed, I just kinda bounced off his driver’s side fender. One lesson: ADRENALINE IS BAD. I jumped up, ready to clock the guy. Not good. 
    My big annoyance is actually pedestrians who cross streets — especially one-ways without looking first. The relative silence of a bike can mean they don’t have a sound cue to look back. VERY scary, because if they do look back at the last minute and see me coming, they almost ALWAYS make the wrong move. That leads to “igolefthegoesleftigorighthegoesrightohhhCRAP!” 
    My big tip: be tolerant. If someone makes a riding — or driving — mistake, and gives you a scare or holds you up, why not just let it go. There’s too much rage in the world. Let’s all give each other a little space and a little tolerance. 

    •  @bobledrew  That adrenaline you speak of hit me the other day when a guy decided he didn’t want me on the road at all and bumped my back tire to get me on to the sidewalk (which he was yelling to me through his open window). I almost clocked the guy.
      The pedestrians are typically clueless. I love riding the lakefront path here and watching people cross, without looking either way. I always yell, “Heads up” and then they do exactly what you’ve described. Oy.

    • @bobledrew That’s Toronto, mate – we all know how they only care about themselves. 😉

  • Good tips to know @ginidietrich . I live near @ClermontFlorida & we have tons of cycling competitions & triathlons here. It’s become part of our town’s culture, but I still don’t think enough is being done to educate residents on how to share the road with cyclists. 

    •  @brittanybotti  I like to hear there are cities that create cycling cultures. Austin is like that, too. They’re trying here in Chicago, but the cars still outnumber the bikes. Which won’t really change because it’s so darn cold here in the winter. 🙁

  • polleydan

    Another tip (at least in Wisconsin): If you pass a cyclist, the law says you must give three feet of clearance between your car and their bike.I was nearly struck a couple of years ago by a large furniture truck that neglected to do this. I was riding on a two-lane country road with no shoulder.Also, thanks for writing this.

    •  @polleydan It’s super scary when cars and trucks fly past you with no room. That happens often. Why is this so hard? I can’t believe anyone really wants to hit a cyclist.

      • rustyspeidel

        @ginidietrich @polleydan Out in the country where I live, I actually believe some of those jerks do you want to hit cyclists. aCS is a total nuisance enjoy harassing us. from the safety of their pickup truck.

  • motownmutt

    ah, the beeping horn one! I *hate* that. “@DannyBrown “@SpinSucks Seven Tips for Sharing the Road with Cyclists

    • DannyBrown

      @motownmutt @SpinSucks It scares the bejeezus out of me and I have both feet planted firmly on the ground!

      • motownmutt

        @DannyBrown @SpinSucks I’ve watched one nearly get t-boned from both directions when trying to wave me thru instead of just obeying signage.

        • DannyBrown

          @motownmutt Wow, that’s crazy. I recall the UK main cities always having issues with bikers too. Mad

        • motownmutt

          @DannyBrown when I tow my kayak on the dolly, I always get at least one car that ignores traffic rules and waves me thru. It’s dangerous.

        • DannyBrown

          @motownmutt I just love that saying – “tow my kayak on the dolly” 🙂

        • motownmutt

          @DannyBrown it does draw a lot of attention.

  • Oh, and my other incident yesterday was being caught behind a cyclist, riding down the middle of the lane at a rather slow speed. We’re talking a serious cyclist with the nice bike and all the gear. There was clearly room for him to move over (not sure if there was a bike lane), but I couldn’t get around him, and it was slowing traffic. Is he required to move over?

    • polleydan

       @KenMueller At least in my state, the law is cyclists have to ride as far to the right as they feel safe. Sometimes there’s potholes, broken glass or other hazards to the far right of the road, and I ride a little bit to the left to avoid those.

      •  @polleydan I can fully understand that. I just wish cops would enforce these laws on both sides, and with pedestrians. But they never seem to until it’s too late. 

        •  @KenMueller  @polleydan I rode in the middle of the road the other day because the guy I mention below to Bob was being such a jerk and trying to run me into parked cars, that I got pissed and wouldn’t move for several blocks. Clearly not the best idea, in retrospect, but that adrenaline was really pumping.

        • polleydan

           @KenMueller Completely agree. Too many people (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians) have bad behavior because it’s reinforced by police letting that behavior slide.

    •  @KenMueller Yes, if he’s impeding the flow of traffic, he must move over.

    • bobledrew

       @KenMueller Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Had I been in your position, I might have waited, then given a polite beep of the horn to let him know you were comin’ round (when safe). 

    • rustyspeidel

      @KenMueller Nine times out of 10 we can’t hear you. The wind is in our years and we can’t hear any cars thanks.

      •  @rustyspeidel   I can appreciate that, and I was the car right behind him. Didn’t honk. And this was on a road that is a major road in our area, so there is never a time where there isn’t a lot of traffic. This wasn’t a back country road, and we were only going 15 mph. No way he couldn’t have known there were cars behind him.

  • Oh – I just thought of a tip that you let slip by! Ride with, run against (the flow of traffic). 

    •  @jasonkonopinski That’s a tip for cyclists…not for motorists. Silly.

      •  @ginidietrich Details, details. Pbthhhh. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski I seriously think you need to write this book. Start a blog and do it one post at a time. LISTEN TO ME!

        •  @ginidietrich Pay attention. I said I’m working on it. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski I want to see it!

        •  @ginidietrich It’s a giant mess of audio files right now. 

  • As someone who got doored and run over, I can say that I agree with all of these tips lady. One of my bigger peeves/wants from drivers was to not tailgate someone on a bike. It has happened to me on numerous occasions and there is nothing worse than feeling the heat of a car on your back. Too many motorists think hey the cyclist should just speed up like I do, As you know our legs are not gas powered. 

    •  @jeffespo I really believe everyone should have to ride a bike, on the road, once in the life…before they’re allowed a driver’s license. People who behave this way have never gotten on a bike.

      •  @ginidietrich well there are always going to be assholes and have seen folks who cycle do the same while driving.I get pissed when I see other folks not obeying traffic laws. 

  • Clintonig9zbi


  • rustyspeidel

    I guess I don’t understand why it has to be a battle at all. Why is everyone in such a freaking hurry? A really strong cyclist might be able to go 28 miles an hour on a flat road for a little while. a car can do that all day long. so when you see your bike, take your time go around him when it’s safe and remain call! All the danger occurs when people don’t know what the other is doing. we try to remain is consistent and our behavior as possible so motorists know what to expect. but when you honk at us throw beer cans or otherwise harass us when we’re trying to ride all bets are off.

    •  @rustyspeidel I’m with you – I don’t understand why cars try to push you off the road. I once had a cop do it! I was astounded. I know I say this a lot, but I really can’t believe anyone wants to hurt a cyclist. And, like you said, some of us can ride the speed limit so what’s the big freaking deal?

  • Nice list – I too made the shift to biking after too much stress on my knee (hockey) and a desire to get into triathlons. I’ve backed off a great bit, but appreciate your tips. In DC we have a great path from the city to the country (along the old W&OD rail line) and I can’t tell you how much confusion there is at such intersections (pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, etc. all must stop on the path, while motorists should “be aware” but continue w/o stopping).
    So, my tips to pass along?
    When passing a cyclist (this goes for motorcycles too), please give them enough room before you swerve back into the lane. A bike is just like any other vehicle and needs the same – if not more – amount of buffer space you would want between your car and anybody elses.
    Excellent tips, btw. You should create a for this and let the community keep building, and refining it!

    •  @fredmcclimans You know what, Fred? That’s a great idea! I will definitely do that. Hopefully, between all of us, we can raise awareness.

      •  @ginidietrich
         You can now embed the directly into your blog post – very cool – through the wordpress plugin.

  • jfouts

    @ginidietrich the 4 way stop one just makes me nuts too!

    • ginidietrich

      @jfouts Doesn’t it? Just drive your car already!

      • jfouts

        @ginidietrich exaaactly! And then don’t get mad at me when I obey the traffic laws…sheesh

        • ginidietrich

          @jfouts I just had a guy do a U-turn and not look before he came into my lane. I waved to him and he flipped me off

        • jfouts

          @ginidietrich It’s amazing how agro they get when they’re in the wrong. NOT That there aren’t idiots on bikes too.

  • Semonz8brnl


  • HeidiMassey

    Give ’em hell @ginidietrich 
    I just went carless as of July 1st. And have been doing a lot of biking even before then. Just a few weeks ago, a taxi pulled over right in front of me and the passenger opened the passenger side back door. I had no time to stop. I don’t remember exactly what I hit-I think I squeaked by and sort of nicked the parked car and the taxi. My chain came off of my bike and I was shaken up a bit. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have looked before opening the door so it is hard to blame the woman. The taxi driver, however, should have known better. He drove past me on the road. 
    I am getting braver in my biking-pulling into the left turn lane instead of crossing in the cross walks and having to wait for 2 lights. I still live in the burbs for a few more weeks, and I am sure the drivers out here think I am absolutely nuts. But I am probably more careful than any other bikers and drivers on the road. They tend to give you lots of space on a bike in the burbs. 
    Hoping the urban drivers out there read this carefully and give bikers a little more space on the road.

    •  @HeidiMassey I didn’t know that happened to you! Super scary. I’m pretty sure, unless you ride your bike, you don’t even think about these things. I mean, a car will just go around the taxi. I’m glad you’re OK…I don’t want my Heidi hurt!

      • HeidiMassey

         @ginidietrich Awwww, thanks Gini! It wasn’t a huge deal, but it did make me stop and think and become a little more defensive on the road when biking.

  • 1.) I ADORE your bike. I just got a Cannondale Synapse and I am smitten. B.) Come ride with me in the country – we have nice country roads that are five minutes from my house.  And 3.) Totally agree with the stop sign tango. As a driver as well, I understand the little dance that happens but it does piss me off. Happy 4th to you!

    •  @KarenARocks You’ll soon want to marry your bike, too!

  • Carl_PR

    Thanks for the post on cyclists Gini. As one of the other type of cyclists . . . please look out for motorcyclists too. We’re bigger (generally) but equally invisible to those who are not looking for us . . . and we’re in the lane with you and your car, van SUV, RV (scary), box truck, semi, etc.

  • JLipschultz

    If you are passing fast cyclists like @ginidietrich and use the oncoming traffic lane to safely maneuver around, please realize it may take longer to pass than you are used to.  Misjudging this can lead to a panic situation where you need to get back into your “shared” lane to avoid an oncoming car (perhaps coming up the other side of a hill).  Getting back into the lane, while the cyclist is not yet cleared, can be a disaster.

    • polleydan

       @JLipschultz  Excellent point. I don’t see this happen too often, but it can be very scary when it does. 

    •  @JLipschultz Woo hoo! I thought I might see you for this post. YAY!

      • JLipschultz

         Good to see you’re hitting it hard this year.  2011 was a bit of a recovery year for me mileage-wise.  Hitting it hard this year.  Got back on DM for motivation–helped considerably.

        •  @JLipschultz I’ll bet 2011 was a bit of a recovery year! You did ride across the country, after all.

  • JLipschultz

    Took me so long to fix my livefyre account, a new post popped up that I didn’t read until after posting.  Same topic–sorry.

  • ShellyKramer

    A topic close to my own heart, Gin. @katherinemeyer was on her bike on her way to an event this past weekend and was doing all the right things ….. and got hit by a car. And as much as the sounds of those words scare a cyclist, imagine what they do to your mother! The short version – Kat was fine. Scared but fine. As was her bike. But the driver? Not only did she not even get out of the car, she didn’t even roll down her window. She spoke to Kat through the window, asked “Are you okay?” and then drove on. 
    My advice to cyclists, in addition to being careful and watching out for idiots like the above woman, be sure you also have your cell phone at the ready. If crap like this happens to you, take pictures of the idiots that are involved, including their license plates. Then send it to your mom. And share it with all your friends. Or send it to me. I’ll hunt those losers down. 
    I promise.
    Oh, and cyclists, if you want drivers to obey the rules, you need to obey them, too. All the time. And hurry up on that post, too, Gini.
    Thanks for the post — very much needed.

    •  @ShellyKramer OMG! I didn’t know she’d had an accident. I would have beat that woman to a bloody pulp. She’s lucky I wasn’t with Kat. Your advice is the same Mr. D gives me all the time. I keep my phone in my back pocket so it’s hard to get out while you’re riding, but I need to make it a priority. Especially for jerks in green mini-vans.
      And yes, cyclists need to obey the rules of the road, too.

    •  @ShellyKramer I had no idea Kat had been hit. I’m so glad she wasn’t hurt. Yikes.

  • ErinBrumleve

    Excellent post, Gini.
    Just yesterday I went to a memorial service for a friend who was killed after being struck be a van while in the cross walk. I had ran with him not more than 20 minutes before as it was during our a training run for our marathon group a few weeks ago. He had got caught in the middle of the crosswalk on a short light, one driver waved him ahead while the second driver (who was behind the first and couldn’t see what was happening) pulled around and hit him.  He was 60 years old and had qualified for Boston for the first time. Sadly, now he will never get to run it. 
    So I would add to to the list of tips for cyclists and runners – Use extreme caution if a driver waves you on – as drivers in car are not always communicating with each other. 
    Have a safe holiday everyone. 

    •  @ErinBrumleve THAT is a great tip! It happens all the time – a car will stop to let another one in, but doesn’t see you. It’s awful what happened to your friend. That hurts my heart. 

      • M_Koehler

        @ginidietrich @ErinBrumleve Sorry to hear about your friend Erin. That is so sad.

        Drivers really just don’t care is what I’ve come to conclude. We are taught to drive defensivly because people are idiots and do not pay attention so you as a driver need to be on the lookout. I try to run defensivly. I try to avoid even being in a position to be near cars when possible when I run. I’ve even ditched running with headphones so I can hear (which totally sucks I might add). If I know I’m going to be near traffic, I tend to slow down and watch where cars are at at all times. Living in a small town where farm boys think its a-ok to have trucks the size of the Lusitania, I am constantly fearful of getting hit.

      • ErinBrumleve

         @ginidietrich Thanks Gini. Hurts my heart too. 

  • magriebler

    Here’s what I’ve tried to do in conversations with drivers who complain about cyclists. I encourage a shift in perspective. Be grateful to that bike rider next to you for reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and even health care costs. We all benefit from safer roads for cyclists, whether or not we ever climb aboard a bike ourselves. I get a fair share of mocking (of course) … but I’ve also enjoyed some rather thoughtful chats about alternative transportation.

    •  @magriebler I get the mocking, too. My favorite comment of all time? “Cyclists don’t pay road taxes.” Whaaaaat? I guess I get to choose which taxes I pay and which I don’t. Who knew?

  • rainbowclaire

    @ginidietrich I’m a firm believer that Twitter doesn’t always have to have a business hat on. Good for you. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @rainbowclaire The only point is to be social, right??

      • rainbowclaire

        @ginidietrich exactly! Although I’m not saying we should share EVERYTHING, some things should stay offline!

  • Lindsay

    Great post! I’m sporting a pretty great cycling tan, too. I prefer midday rides, but it’s been so hot in Colorado that I had to switch my schedule to do early mornings when it isn’t 100 degrees yet. I’m trying to get in the miles and climbing before I tackle my hardest ride ever in less than 2 weeks. The Triple Bypass is 122 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing! 

    •  @Lindsay OMG! I’ve always wanted to do that race. AND I want to do Ride the Rockies. So badly. I did Elephant Rock two years ago and LOVED it!

    • JLipschultz

       @Lindsay I will “see” you there Lindsay.  Me and my buds from TX and OK are coming up for it. Good luck.

  • Robb_Wexler

    @ginidietrich Our lives are not all PR and Marketing. (I will never admit that in court) To quote Queen..”I want to ride my bicycle!”

  • When I first got my clipless pedals they were too tight and I have a friend who laughs at me to this day. We came up to a stop light in downtown Seattle and I did this super slo-mo fall to the right onto the curb in front of pedestrians and lanes of stopped traffic. He laughed and laughed. It was quite spectacular, really. 
    I have an additional tip. IT”S OK TO PASS US. holy cow – we don’t want you riding on our butts – go around us for crying out loud, we’re hugging the shoulder waiting for you to go!

    •  @Lisa Gerber I would have laughed my butt off too. I’d still be laughing about it! #fukudome

    • polleydan

       @Lisa Gerber I did the same thing last year when I switched to clipless pedals. I came across a march of sorts in my downtown area. I paid more attention to that and forgot to clip out and ended in a slo-mo fall to the ground. Pretty sure I got some interesting looks from those involved in the march as well as police officers standing nearby. 

  • JLipschultz

    Just got back from a ride and drank my chocolate milk.  Not even showered I shared four more I learned from the ride:
    1 –  Riders often have a shoulder of 8-12 inches to work with.  There are times that they will have to move all the way to their left (putting their elbow ever so close to your side view mirror).  With this in mind, there is never a good time to be a dork and “buzz by them” by moving close to the shoulder. 
    2 – Don’t race cyclists to the stop side to be in front of them.  Many follow the same rules as a car and move over into the middle of the lane to “take the lane” so that they can stop and take turn (not take a turn along side you).
    3 – When you see a cyclist turn at an intersection (i.e., turning left coming from opposite direction and crossing your lane), don’t speed up to scare them, slow down.  Hopefully, they have timed their turn to clear before come upon them.  But keep in mind, turns are the most dangerous part of cycling (minus contacting another bike and crashing) no involving cars.  If they hit a slick patch or debris in their turn, they can go down.  You may not stop in time if this happens.
    4 – If you’re in an area that often has cyclists riding through, anticipate that they’ll be in blind spots.  Not the typical one, but instead, behind cars passing through the intersection as you wait to turn.  Or over the other side of a hill. 
    I know not all of them follow the rules, but your life will be changed forever if you hit a cyclist.  Getting to work 10 seconds sooner just isn’t worth it.

  •  @ginidietrich Good list and important post, Gini. As someone who was once hit by a car, and survived to talk about it, I get a little itchy about drivers practicing safe and courteous behavior in traffic–to everyone. Other drivers of cars, bikers and pedestrians. Grrr…. 

    •  @allenmireles I keep saying I think everyone should have to ride a bike, in the road, before they can renew their driver’s licenses. Perhaps that would take care of some of this stuff.

  • Great post, Gini! My cousins are serious cyclists and one of them has been pretty badly hit by a car that swerved into the bike lane to make a right turn. Thankfully, he’s okay (he now runs his own shop:, but it really shows you that even seasoned cyclists can be hurt by disrespectful drivers. It can be scary out there! 

    •  @annedreshfield You have to be super defensive. I’m pretty experienced and I get angry and scared at least once every time I ride (six times a week). Motorists think they own the road. Turns out, they don’t.

  • So you are saying that is not cool for me to stick a broom in your spokes, squirt oil from my car a la James Bond or throw dirty diapers at cyclists. 
    Damn, you people take all the fun out of driving.
    What I don’t understand are the cyclists who decide that because some people have been jerks they are going to try to make life harder on drivers. It is moronic behavior because if for some reason I accidentally hit you I am not the one who might die.
    I have seen it happen a million times in San Francisco and more than a few times in Los Angeles. 
    Since we are talking about this let me throw out a comment/question. I know that some cyclists can keep up a good pace but I will never understand why some think it is ok to ride in the center of the road.
    You can’t maintain that upper pace long enough to match a car and sometimes we might choose to exceed the speed limit.
    I guess the real point is that I understand there can be friction between drivers and cyclists but I don’t see the point in either group trying to emphasize their “dominance” by acting like an ass.

    •  @TheJackB You shouldn’t ride in the middle of the road. You should always ride on the shoulder or in the bike lane. Cyclists who do that are being jerks…like I was last week with a guy in a green minivan who kept pushing me out of the bike lane so I decided to ride in the middle of the lane so he’d stop squeezing me.

  • ginidietrich

    @karenaltes I freaking hate people. Why must they do that to cyclists?

    • karenaltes

      @ginidietrich I yelled, literally hit the side of the parked car, the driver saw me and just drove off. *shakes head*

      • ginidietrich

        @karenaltes I would have beat the driver to a bloody pulp.

        • karenaltes

          @ginidietrich I memorized his license plate and tweeted about it. That’s my equivalent of a beating, I guess. Hah. 🙂

      • Roslynfznevpn9
  • ChrisThilk

    @DougH @spinsucks @ginidietrich 7? How many more do you need after “Hit as many as you can?”

    • ginidietrich

      @ChrisThilk Ba da dum

    • DougH

      @ChrisThilk You just earned yourself a lifetime subscription to “Haslam spandex photo of the month”cc: @ginidietrich

  • DougH

    @ImTheQ I thought hashtags were over or something ;P #ATX #AUSTIN

    • ImTheQ

      @DougH You thought wrong.

  • My main thing, is ride with confidence. You belong on the road, and as long as you follow the rules- and in addition, make sure cars around you know what you are doing or about to do at all times- you will be fine. 

    •  @dough And be on the defensive. Don’t assume drivers are going to follow the rules of the road.

  • Great post, Gini! We could use some tips like this on the Climate Ride blog if you’re ever interested in sharing to another site (I know, I’m shameless that way). I just got a Madone 5.2 myself a couple weeks ago and am really enjoying it so far. Let me know if you want to go for a ride sometime! And thanks for the great tips.

    •  @timfrick I would love to repost it! I could revise it based on some of the tips in the comments, too.

      • @ginidietrich @timfrick That would be awesome. Shall we converse about the details via email or phone?

  • ginidietrich

    @selahb Right?!?

  • cloudspark

    @ginidietrich are you watching the #tdf – any favs?

  • I was into cycling when I was a kid. And my dad made sure I indulged in the love of it. And one evening, I was cycling with my friends and a guy who thought the road was meant for him, honked his car too loud and flashed his lights. It scared me and I fell off, not only suffering a terrible scar but also a fear of cycling (I was around 9). But then, as I grew up I got rid of the fear.  So, yes, this comes as a great reminder… hope people remember and don’t honk a cyclist! 

    •  @Hajra  It’s really scary when a motorist honks at you! You’re not expecting it and it will make you lose your balance. I don’t think they get that.

  • LauraScholz

    OMG, seriously. Same for runners, too. NO ONE–and I mean NO ONE–in Atlanta stops or even looks turning right. Red light, stop sign, cross walk–doesn’t matter. You’d best wait for the intersection to clear or make sure you have made eye contact with the driver (and that there’s not anyone behind him/her) and the go-ahead before crossing. Forget crosswalks in this town. When they exist, people just plow through them at 60 mph. And it’s bad enough drivers do it to me (I’m healthy and can sprint across), but when they nearly run down a 80 year old lady carrying her groceries across the street, I get pissed. A good friend of mind was hit in a crosswalk at a red light nearly two years ago and in a coma for a week. She made a miraculous recovery (after being in a spinal rehab center for nearly a year, quitting school and losing nearly nine months of memory), but it’s scary. Being a runner and being married to a cyclist (no, I’m not going over to the dark side–I’ll go back to swimming first!) has made me a much more mindful driver.
    p.s. I love how many times you wrote “freaking” in this post.

    •  @LauraScholz When I started riding, I read an article that said, “ALWAYS make sure you make eye contact with the driver.” I’ve always remembered that.

      •  @ginidietrich  @LauraScholz Had an interesting experience in Paris– the bike tours through the city go right through the streets to the landmarks and monuments. We rode in the streets (no helmets- yeah, I know). 
        The best advice from one tour guide was using the “Palm of Power” – making sure the driver sees you as you are going through an intersection or (gulp) traffic circle.
        I kept screwing up and calling it the “Palm of Death”

  • StaceyHood

    @ginidietrich YOU read it!

    • ginidietrich

      @StaceyHood YOU read it!

      • StaceyHood

        @ginidietrich I did!! Gawsh!!

  • mavindigital

    @ginidietrich happy 4th!!!

    • ginidietrich

      @mavindigital to you too!!

  • So, does it get crowded in bed with the 3 of you? 
    Bikes are like motorcycles in that sometimes they are not easy to spot and car drivers think they are a nuisance anyway and don’t respect the rider; you definitely have to be on the defensive. With ‘go fast’ riders like you, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of taking evasive action.
    My friend did not fare so well; he’s paralyzed with limited use of his right arm and he lost his right eye.
    Be careful out there……..

    •  @bdorman264 Mr. D doesn’t get to sleep with us. Duh.I had forgotten to ask about your friend. That makes me sad. 🙁

  • cophotog

    @RickCaffeinated thank you much!

  • rdopping

    Don’t ride in Toronto then. Our AssHat mayor decided to eliminate some bike lanes so all the commuters could further clog the roads and make it easier for them to drive their gas-guzzling SUV’s around the core. Sheesh…..I used  to ride around the city a lot. Now, I ride the transit line and cringe every time a cyclist gets clipped here. Happens a lot.
    Enjoy your day off. Hope it’s a lovely day.

    •  @rdopping That’s pretty much what dannybrown said. Good to know!

      • rdopping

        @ginidietrich @dannybrown Great minds, ya know? Or just a couple of guys who see the same cap every day. See you in a few weeks. I have the gang lined up…

  • It’s Wednesday, the fourth, chillin’ poolside w/ my Sweet Tea Arnold Vodka….

    WASSSSUUUUUUUUPPP!!! 😛 naaaghhh

  • And please, please don’t park in the bike lane… 
    Happy cycling, @ginidietrich 
    Did you ever watch “bike lanes” by Casey Neistat? (it’s on YouTube)

    •  @Henneke And PLEASE don’t park in the bike lane!
      Yes, I’ve seen bike lanes. Pretty funny!

  • I fear for cyclists and I am very cautious around them. I actually prefer mountain biking for safety reasons. It sounds backwards, I know, but I’ve never felt comfortable on the road with a bike. Thanks for the tips.

    •  @hackmanj And I’m the opposite – riding my bike over terrain scares the crap out of me.

  • jennimacdonald

    Gini I have a question. For years I have wanted to buy a bike and start cycling, I have many friends who are hard core like you but the thought of falling has held me back. I know to do it right you should use the clip-in pedals but I’m afraid I’ll have a stroke from the anxiety of thinking that my feet are permanently in the bike. 
    Any tips that could help me overcome my fear?

    •  @jennimacdonald Yes. Practice. That’s all that’ll do it. You will fall over. It’s inevitable. But practice clipping in and out in a parking lot or somewhere without traffic. Once you get used to them, you’ll never go back. And you’ll be mad at yourself for not doing it sooner.
      Also, the more scars and bruises you have from cycling, the better. They’re badges of honor!

      • jennimacdonald

         @ginidietrich Thanks, that’s a great idea to practice where there’s no traffic and I can go VERY slow.
        I already regret not starting sooner. Just like my fear of starting to blog…in the words of Nike, JUST DO IT!
        Hope you had a great 4th.

      •  @ginidietrich  @jennimacdonald Agreed- when I bought my first bike with clips, the shop owner let me ride it in the parking garage- where I fell over twice. I also fell a few times early on (no injuries). One comforting thought is most “new clip” falls occur while stopping, so you won’t have any high-speed accidents. 

        • jennimacdonald

           @dough  Thanks for the comment, that just relieved a ton of my anxiety : )

        •  @jennimacdonald  @dough I’ll add, ask them to set them really loose to begin with and just give you some time to get used to that ankle twist to get out of the pedal. Soon, it becomes second nature and like @ginidietrich said, you’ll LOVE it. I love the connection to the bike – to be able to really pull. For me, it’s even more important mountain biking.I actually feel safer when I’m clipped in. 
          I rode it around my block and kept turning right so there was no worry if I couldn’t stop, and just practiced getting in and out while I coasted slowly. All that grass around made it fairly comforting. 🙂 

  • As a motorist AND a motorcyclist – sorry, there’s no way you’re going to get me in traffic on a bicycle – the behavior of others drives me nuts. I nearly hit a bicyclist once who decided to shoot up my left side as I was making a left turn (and yes, I always use my turn signals). I have no idea where he came from – he wasn’t in sight when I checked the mirrors. It’s why I don’t like driving downtown – those who bicycle down there are insane. And don’t forget the joggers – I was hit by a jogger once who was so into his music that he forgot about traffic. I’m sitting there at the intersection waiting for traffic to clear so I can make my left turn, and the next thing I know, I hear this loud “thump” and the whole car shakes. I get out to see what happened, and there he was, lying in the street complete with the figurative little birdies flying ’round his head and chirping. Not even thinking about liability, I just asked him, “You couldn’t see me? Wasn’t the car BRIGHT enough for you?” (it was a lemon-yellow Mustang II), got back in and left. You truly can’t make this stuff up.
    As my paramedic husband says, if you expect the stupidest, most bizarre thing people can do on the road, you’ll never be disappointed….and I will always have job security.

    •  @DebraCaplick The guys who do what you describe with the left hand turn make me nuts. I know it sucks to get out of your pedal and actually wait for a light, but come on! Why risk it?

  • When I drive to & from work every day, I pass a ton of cyclists (I drive through Rock Creek Park). I’m sad to say most of them behave as if they own the road. Like @DebraCaplick I would never cycle in traffic – I’m just too much of a wimp – but I do try and be mindful of what you’ve pointed out… even when the cyclists are driving me crazy. In fact, I was on the phone with @rachaelseda one day, and yelled in frustration at a “bad” cyclist, and then said, “Man, if Gini could hear me now.”

    •  @Shonali HAHA. And as soon as she yelled I was thinking the same thing…I hope Gini didn’t just over hear you all the way in Chicago! (Oh wait maybe she did hear you so she wrote this post hehe)
      But I have to say as a runner, cars don’t even care if it’s your turn to cross the street. I constantly have to be on the lookout and I realize it’s my responsibility as well but I can definitely count multiple close calls every time I run and if it weren’t for me paying attention would’ve turned out differently. You’d be surprised how eager people are just to get into the McDonald’s parking lot…that’s one of the worst places I pass in my run haha.

      •  @rachaelseda  It’s amazing to me how people do things like that when it saves the all of three seconds. And sometimes it doesn’t even save them that because you end up passing them again.

        •  @ginidietrich  @rachaelseda @Shonali One of my biggest frustrations as a cyclist is motorists who talk on the phone while driving ;P.
          As for “owning the road,” cyclists have a right to the travel line in the absence of a dedicated bike lane. just takes patience (and no horn tooting please) to wait for a cyclist to determine when it is safe to get over and let cars pass. That’s how it is.
          That said, there are a lot of jerks like Gini out there. 

        •  @dough  Brat.

        •  @dough  Mine too, which is why I rarely do it and IF I do, it’s on speaker/hands free mode, as I mentioned below. Funny how those motorists can also be donors to fundraising campaigns, though, no? 🙂 @ginidietrich  @rachaelseda 

        •  @dough  Ah, I hit “post” too soon! My comment about “owning the road” was not meant to say who does or doesn’t own it, motorists or cyclists or pedestrians or cows (as you’ll sometimes see in India, for example). As a motorist I’m happy to share the road with everyone else – that’s the way it should be. I don’t like it when the other road users, be they motorists or cyclists or whoever, don’t obey traffic signs & behave as if they are more important than anyone else. Because they’re not. @ginidietrich  @rachaelseda 

    •  @Shonali  I’m definitely no saint when I ride. If a car has been pushing me into parked cars or the curb, I’ll go out in front of it and ride in the middle of the road. Sometimes that’s the safest place for me to be, but I only do it if the driver has been particularly rude. Like the guy who pulled out of his parking spot without looking. I saw him doing it so I stopped and when he saw me, I waved. He flipped me off. So I got out in front of him and rode several blocks in the middle of the road. 

    • kglobos

      @Shonali Um..wait, you were driving and talking on your cellphone while yelling at a cyclist? 🙂 @DebraCaplick @rachaelseda

      •  @kglobos I was yelling about a bad cyclist to @rachaelseda … does that make any more sense? And fyi, I was on speaker mode/handsfree, and no, I don’t make this a regular occurrence, it had been a frustrating series of days and I needed to talk to Rachael. 95% of the time I’m listening to the radio or car dancing (true, ask Jason Konopinski ) while driving.
        Btw, you’re going to have to give me much more than a fistful of salt if you want me to believe that you, @dough and, frankly, *anyone* has never done that… 🙂 
        Oh, and before you, or anyone else asks, I don’t text and drive.

        •  @Shonali  @kglobos  @rachaelseda    @dough It’s totally true! She even made a video just for me. 🙂

  • kglobos

    @shonali @ginidietrich Great tips, except…what bike lane? Good luck finding a safe one in Toronto!!

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