check yourself

Yesterday we posted five reasons motorists [should] love cyclists, so a followup with five reminders for cyclists drawn from Oregon Department of Transportation’s recently published “Bicyclist’s Survival Guide” seems appropriate.  Having lived in Oregon and having ridden some of the thousands of miles of bike lanes there,  it’s not too surprising to see they’ve published such a manual (one of the first things I had to learn as a motorist was to check my passenger mirror before making a right turn in order to avoid cutting off fellow cyclists) and pages with titles like this one prove the 90s are alive in Portland.

1. Be seen: wear bright or reflective clothing and use front and rear lights, especially at dusk and dawn.  Even if you don’t need a light to see and make your way, these times of day are when visibility is deceptively limited and the most accidents happen.  Motorists are trained to see and notice motorists, lights trains them to see and notice you.

More after the break.





2. Focus!  Notice two of the pieces of advice are to stow your phone and “Tune into traffic, not your earbuds.”  Likewise, be aware of the traffic around you and where blindspots are.  Just like you want motorists to break for you, sometimes you may have to break for them.


3. Be safe, wear a helmet: if you want motorists to care about your life,  show you care about it  by wearing a helmet.  If you think it  disrupts the aesthetic of your vintage, or faux vintage, fixie, you’re wrong.



hand signals

4. Be obvious and intentional: just like erratic or unpredictable driving puts us in danger, motorists should never have to guess what we’re doing either.  Be intentional and use more than an aptly chosen finger in your hand signals


ride right

5. Remember, you’re part of traffic.  This means you should ride on the right, but not so far that you’re in the gutter, in danger of going off the road, or of hitting the door of a parked car. The guide advises to take your lane if you need to, which can actually cause motorists  to give you more of a berth, which seems counter-intuitive, but if a car has to cross lanes to get by you, they might think about it more, instead of trying to sneak by you while staying in the same lane.  Likewise, be courteous.  You might have to put your conversation on hold and single up for a while so cars can get by safely.  Making motorists angry isn’t safe for anyone.

Stop at stoplights and avoid jaunts on the sidewalk.  I even knew someone who got a ticket for riding on the sidewalk.  In many states, you can get a DUI on your bike.


bike laws


  1. Don’t use the right turn signal using your left hand in Europe. I don’t think anyone around here would understand what it’s supposed to mean. I would have interpreted it as a brake signal.

  2. Actually, they did a study in Great Britain about rule number 3 and found that motorists gave bare headed riders more room and tended to drive too close to those wearing helmets. Wearing a helmet does nothing to make you more safe because helmets DO NOT PREVENT ACCIDENTS. It is inherently unsafe to crash or to land on your head regardless of whether or not you have a little bit of styrofoam on your noggin. (Yes, it might absorb a fraction of the energy and lessen the injury but you will probably still be injured and it will do nothing for the rest of your body).

  3. Why should anyone need to burden themselves with unnecessary safety equipment before anyone else extends even the most cursory concern for their well-being?

    “if you want gun-carriers to care about your life, show you care about it by wearing a bulletproof vest.” – Walkrumor

  4. Which one of these is the reason helmets are made:

    1. To reduce accidents.
    2. To potentially reduce the severity of a head injury or to possibly prevent it.

    If you think the answer is #1, please go back to school. If you think that anyone else thinks that the reason is #1, go back to school as soon as possible as your reasoning skills are suffering a critical deficit.

  5. Note that much of the text _about_ the “Survival Guide” is not _in_ the document itself. Search the ODOT PDF for the blatant misspelling of “brake” or any mention of motorists giving you more respect or space because you wear a helmet, and you will come up empty. ODOT deserves some credit for spreading the word about signalling a right turn with the right hand and taking the lane when appropriate; bikerumor editors deserve a raspberry for gratuitous embellishment (and poor spelling).

  6. That’s pretty rubbish with lots of flaw.

    No mentioned of looking behind before you signal? or looking behind instead of listening to traffic?claiming you should always listen to traffic is bad advice too

    Those signal is also quite confusing as I doubt a lots of drivers are aware of specific signal = keep it simple – left, and right, that’s it.

    They really got to take a leaf out of Bikeability from the UK.

What do you think?