Bike Safety Tips

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Things cyclists can do to improve their safety
10 ways motorists can improve bicycle safety
Where to ride
How to ride in bike lanes

Things cyclists can do to improve their safety

  • Ride with the flow.
  • Know rules/hazards of sidewalk cycling.
  • Yield to traffic before entering or crossing a roadway.
  • Yield to overtaking traffic before moving across one or more lanes.
  • Come to a complete stop at every stop sign and red light.
  • Ride in the farthest right lane that serves your destination.
  • Signal turns and lane changes at least 50 feet in advance.
  • Ride in the appropriate position in the lane you are using.
  • Never ride in low light without two things: a bright, white non-flashing headlight and red rear reflector.
  • Maintain control of your bicycle always.
  • Maintain your bike in good working order.
  • Don't ride a bike if you've been drinking alcohol.
  • Seek help from experienced cyclists.

10 ways motorists can improve bicycle safety

  • Respect bicyclists as legal road users with the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.
  • Obey the posted speed limit, and don't drive too fast for conditions.
  • Come to a complete stop at each stop sign and red light.
  • Pass bicyclists only when you can maintain at least 3 feet between the bicycle and the vehicle.
  • Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the bicycle in front of you.
  • Use low-beam headlights when driving in low-visibility conditions.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in and entering crosswalks.
  • Obey "no turn on red" signs.
  • If you plan to turn right or pull into a parking space shortly ahead of a bicycle in front of you, do not pass.
  • Signal all turns and lane changes 100 feet in advance.

Where to ride

Besides learning the rules of the road, riding a properly maintained bike and using necessary safety equipment, bicycle commuters must also put thought into what routes to ride.

  • Look for streets with low traffic volumes and few trucks or buses.
  • Look for roads with wide lanes and paved shoulders.
  • Pay attention to drainage grates, railroad crossings and other potential hazards.
  • Aim for a route with few stop signs so you can keep up your speed.
  • Don't dismiss hills. Although flat terrain requires less effort, hills can be relatively easy with a multigeared bike.
  • Look for good pavement conditions.
  • Check the bike lanes, maps and routes section of the Bike Louisville site.
  • Scout your potential route by bike, not car, before you attempt to ride to work or school.
  • Pick a reasonable distance for your commute. Base your decision on your abilities and experience.

How to Ride in Bike Lanes

Safety considerations
  • Bikes are not required to travel in bike lanes when preparing for turns 
  • Never ride within three feet of parked cars; beware of the door zone
  • Avoid bike lanes that you think are poorly designed or unsafe; alert your local government


  • Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turn lane 
  • Bike lanes should stop before an intersection to allow for bikes to make left turns
  • Always signal as you move out of a bike lane into another traffic lane


  • Report obstructions and poor maintenance to your local government 
  • Avoid riding immediately adjacent to curbs where trash collects 
  • If debris forces you out of the bike lane, signal your move out into traffic

Parked cars

  • Never ride within three feet of parked cars
  • Watch for brake lights, front wheels, signals and driver movements 
  • Position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist pulling out of a parking space

Right turns

  • Avoid riding in lanes that position you on the right side of a right turning motorist 
  • Move out of the right turn lane if you are not turning right
  • Ride in the rightmost lane that goes in the direction that you are travelling

Left turns

  • Move out of the bike lane well in advance of the intersection; signal every move 
  • Position yourself in the rightmost left-turning lane
  • Reposition yourself after executing the turn; remain clear of parked cars

Additional Resources

Bicycle Commuting Tips
By long-time bicycle commuter Paul Dorn 

Ride Smater Resources
From League of American Bicyclists

See the
Snell website for information on certified helmets

Bicycle safety signals