Everyday Etiquette: Bicycle Riding 101
By Diane Gottsman

\"byWhoever said that “Once you learn how to ride a bike, you will never forget” obviously didn’t know my family. We all got bicycles one Christmas; some bikes had training wheels and others were just two-wheel 10-speeds. We sat together and learned the rules and then hit the road. We did fairly well, but time passed, bikes were replaced with skateboards, ice skates and school work, and our bike routine eventually fell by the wayside.

 Last weekend on a whim, my two children and I rifled through the garage and found our bikes, cobwebs and all. We cleaned them up, put on our helmets and off we went – totally unprepared! I quickly noticed my daughter’s helmet was on the side of her ear rather than the top of her head. My son didn’t have his chin strap fixed properly and I was wearing my husband’s helmet, backwards. I decided I couldn’t be the only one who had experienced a bicycle meltdown, thus this month’s column.

Before leaving the bicycle station (otherwise known as your driveway) make sure that helmets, knee pads and tennis shoes are strapped, fastened and in good repair. Don\'t assume everyone will remember the rules. Go over the basics before you get out on the road.


• Ride against traffic (oncoming cars).

• Ride in the middle of the street or on people’s flower beds.

• Hot rod, swaying and swerving, running your mother, the postman or other pedestrians off the road.

• Forget to use your hand signals when turning.

• Cut through parking lots, flying in and out of parked cars, just to save a little time.


• Follow all of the traffic laws an automobile driver would observe, stopping at red lights, stop signs and yielding to pedestrians.

• Follow the marked directions on the street.

• Wear reflective clothing at dusk and dawn, so that others can see you.

• Be aware, when passing a parked car, that the driver of the vehicle may not see you and open his door, causing potential harm to your bike and your body.

• Ride single file.

• Always wear a helmet.

These simple rules will keep you safe and prepared for a happy, healthy ride.

Diane Gottsman is an etiquette and protocol expert who leads programs for children and adults.

Read more Everyday Etiquette columns.