May is National Bike Month, which means it’s finally time for me to pull my trusty green cruiser out of the garage, put air in the tires (if I can find the tire pump, that is) and take it for a spin along the Sacramento River, through Midtown and maybe down to Old Sac for some ice cream and a cruise along the waterfront. Easy, right?
Kind of. While it may true that you never forget how to ride a bike (though let me tell you, that old adage gave little comfort to my 6-year-old self as she struggled with all things balance and training wheels), it seems that bike manners are a different beast altogether. While I love riding my bike, sharing the road with other cyclists, pedestrians and four-wheel drivers is sometimes frustrating—dangerous, even. So please, fellow riders, take note of these rules for the road:
1. Don’t be a jerk. Seriously. There’s a reason why there often seems to be a war brewing between cyclists and the rest of the world. Just because you’re on a bike, saving the environment and all, that doesn’t mean you should act as if you automatically have the right of way. Follow the rules of the road. Stop at traffic lights and stop signs. Don’t cut people off. Just. Don’t.
2. Stay off the sidewalk. As its name helpfully implies, that paved strip that runs along the road is for walking—not biking. So next time you’re out zipping around town on your Schwinn, please stop terrorizing pedestrians. And no, yelling “On the left!” as you suddenly come up behind someone does not make it OK. The one exception to this rule? Anytime you find yourself cycling down Freeport Boulevard, J Street or some other equally frightening thoroughfare on which the bike lane is an unfunny joke. Sorry walkers, but when I’m traveling that stretch on Freeport between Sutterville Road and Broadway, all bets are off.
3. Don’t drink and bike. On the one hand, it’s easy to see the appeal of biking to your socializing destination—nightclub, bar, party, whatever. On the other hand, just as those drinks impair your ability to think clearly and act accordingly behind the wheel of a car, so do they impact your ability to keep it together while balanced precariously atop a metal frame and a pair of rubber wheels. Think about it. Please.
4. Don’t text and bike. What are you, 12? You know better. Stash the phone, and keep your eyes on the road. And turn off that iPod, too. Oh, and sit up straight while you’re at it.
5. No, really, stop being a jerk. Be mindful of who has the right of way, don’t ride against traffic, stop weaving in and out of cars, use lights and/or wear reflective clothing at night, stop hogging the road (single file people, single file), and for the love of sweet baby Jesus, stop wearing your sweaty, skin-tight bike shorts and jerseys to Sunday brunch. Ew. You are not Lance Armstrong. Get over it.