What Are The Rules Of Cycling?

what are the rules of cycling

How to Ride

While they may seem similar, cycling and riding a bike are very different. Often, when cycling on a road bike, the rider is fitted to their specific bike when purchasing it. It is imperative that the bike is the right size for the cyclist to prevent injury and discomfort. Road bikes are very similar to regular bikes other than a few features. The bikes often have clip in shoes, a lighter frame, drop handlebars, and general enhancements that you wouldn't see normally in bikes.

Riding a road bike isn't very different from other bikes, but involves a bit more balance and coordination because the frame is lighter and the wheels are much narrower in many cases. This allows the cyclist to ride much faster with less weight and friction on the road.

Etiquette and Safety

Cycling can be extremely dangerous if the cyclist doesn't adhere to simple etiquette rules. The only big difference between cycling and riding a bike is safety. Cyclists often ride on the road and with this comes the responsibility of being safe on the road and keeping others safe.

First, it is necessary to be riding on the correct side of the road, which in the United States, is the right side of the road. Cyclists are considered vehicles and are expected to ride with traffic. Runners, for example, are expected to run against traffic, but cyclists are the opposite. It is also important to not ride on the sidewalk because cars are expecting a cyclist on the road, not the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk also puts you at risk of hitting objects such as poles, potholes, and even pedestrians.

Another rule that many cyclists adhere to is signaling their direction when making turns. Pointing your arm out to the left indicates a left hand turn and out to the right signals a right turn. To indicate a stop, it is important to put your left hand down and with your palm open, bring it down near your hips. The traditional turning signals only use the left hand and to signal a right turn the cyclist must bend their arm at 90 degrees. This is often confusing and many believe it is counterintuitive. The main rule is to make sure the drivers know in some fashion the direction you intend on turning.

Another major issue many cyclists run into is hitting car doors when they are opening on the side of the street. It is important that the cyclist give as much space as possible between the car and the bike when passing cars on the street. Not only can you injure yourself, but also the person getting out of the car. It is extremely hard to see a cyclist passing a car if you are in the car, so making sure you stay clear is a way to prevent any damage.

Riding at Night

Riding at night comes with its own set of obstacles. Visibility is much lower even at dawn and dusk so it is important to make sure you have the necessary safety lights. Generally, to stay safe at night, there are three very important things you must have with you. It is important to have lights, reflective clothing, and knowledge of your direction or route.

Even during the day, having lights on your bike can be very useful if travelling in a tunnel or dense forest. Back lights that attach to your bike increase visibility. While bike lights are very necessary for any safe rider, it is also imperative to have reflective clothing. Wearing black clothing especially at night can danger you and the drivers passing you. One thing many riders do is put reflective materials on their bike so even if they forget to dress accordingly, they are as safe as possible. Lastly, knowing where you intend to go is a good habit to get into. Not only does this allow for friends and family to know where you are, but having a mental map about your route allows you to make decisions more accurately such as weather and time.

Equipment You'll Need

cycling equipment list

To ride properly, some equipment is needed to ensure a safe, fast, and efficient ride here are some suggestions for gear to get you started!

  • Bike
  • Cycling shoes
  • Helmet
  • Water bottles
  • Flat tire kit
  • Padded bike shorts
  • Bike light front and back
  • Chain oil and maintenance kit


What is common group riding etiquette?

Cycling in a group is very different from riding alone. Often, it is intimidating for new cyclists to feel comfortable riding in a group. Some groups of cyclists disobey the road laws when in a group, but it's important to treat it just like riding alone. Additionally, many groups ride in pace lines which require more understanding of group dynamics. Being courteous to riders struggling is a common theme that shows good group etiquette.

What kinds of cycling are there?

There are many forms of cycling. From BMX, mountain cycling, cyclo-cross, to road cycling and time trials, there are many forms that grace the spectrum of what is cycling. Because there are so many forms of cycling, the rules and regulations differ greatly. The important thing is to be mindful of yourself, but most importantly watch out for others. As a cyclist, you are responsible for adhering to the rules of cycling in order to keep everyone safe and happy.

How do I fit a bike properly?

A road bike is much harder to fit than a normal bike. Because of the nature of the sport, having a properly fitted bike is very important. When purchasing a road bike, the store most likely will fit it with you, but understanding how it should feel is imperative. When sitting on a bike, the seat should be adjusted so that the knee has a very small slight bend. The leg should not be able to fully extend. Additionally, the bike should be adjusted so that your arms are at a slight bend as well. This is to support the body and act as shock absorbers. In general, it should feel comfortable and you should be able to ride long hours without discomfort.