Bicycling Street Smarts
10 - RIDING WITH CONFIDENCE
Bicycling combines practical transportation with enjoyable and healthful exercise. Once you have learned the techniques described in this booklet, your confidence, safety and enjoyment will increase tremendously.
Bicycling is fun, and it's a great feeling to be confident of your knowledge and skill to use your bicycle to go where you want to, and keep yourself safe.
Correct bicycling as described in this booklet requires only a normal adult level of skill, the same as for driving a motor vehicle. In many ways, bicycling is similar to driving a motor vehicle. With minor exceptions, bicyclists have the same rights and follow the same rules as motorists.
The bicycle does differ from most motor vehicles in some ways - it is narrower, and usually slower. The brakes are controlled differently, you must balance to steer, and you put a foot on the ground when you stop. If you've made it through this booklet, you've learned how to accommodate these differences.
You've learned the techniques for traffic operation applicable to a narrow, single-track vehicle that is usually slower than other traffic. These traffic techniques are not unique to the bicycle; they are exactly the same as for a moped rider or a motorcyclist riding slowly. You have learned starting, stopping, and steering techniques that allow you to take full advantage of the bicycle's capabilities.
The bicycle is also special in that many other road users do not understand or expect correct maneuvers from cyclists. For this reason, you must take special care to make your actions and intentions clear. You have learned about signaling, riding in the correct lane position, and checking that other road users understand your intentions. This two-way communication is key to your safety.
The techniques taught in this booklet have been used by proficient bicyclists and have been taught formally for decades in bicyclist driver training courses, such as "Bike-Ed," taught by the League of American Bicyclists and "Can-Bike," taught by the Canadian Bicycling Association. If you want to learn more from an experienced instructor, one of these courses is recommended. Courses and books on bicycle maintenance and repair can help you keep your bicycle in good working order and prepare you in case of a mechanical breakdown on the road. Joining a bicycle club or advocacy group can help you find these additional resources, and it can be a great way to find new places to ride and to meet other bicyclists.
By riding correctly, you can greatly increase your use and enjoyment of the bicycle - for transportation, for exercise, and for recreation. Enjoy your bicycling!