Step 8: One last thing

Picture of One last thing
7) One last thing
A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and as such, they are required to follow the same traffic laws that cars do.  Ride on the right side of the street.  Stay off of the sidewalk (unless expressly allowed in a particular location).  Stop at red lights.  Stop at stop signs***.  Ride predictably and signal your turns when warranted.  The majority of bike/car collisions are partially or entirely the cyclists' fault.  Two of the most common causes of crashes are bike riders riding on the sidewalk, and bike riders riding the wrong way (on the left side of the road).  Another common cause is lack of visibility on the part of the cyclist.  Eliminating these few (totally controllable) factors actually makes riding a bike statistically safer than driving a car.  The thing most new cyclists worry about - getting clipped from the rear by passing cars - is actually relatively rare.  Crashes happen primarily at driveways and intersections, and they happen because the cyclist was somewhere the driver didn't expect them to be.

If you are in the SF Bay Area, consider taking the FREE traffic safety course sponsored by the local Bicycle Coalitions: http://www.ebbc.org/safety
If not, check with your local shops, riding clubs, or bicycle coalition to see if anyone offers something similar.

UPDATE: I just wrote a new post specifically for new riders who aren't used to being in traffic, to help you avoid getting hit by a car.
This post has been way more popular than I ever expected, and since it is intended for new riders, I thought it would be pretty important to help y'all not only pick out a new bike, but not get run over while you are riding it!
Read this before you get on the road: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/06/please-ride-your-bike-in-street.html

*** I won't pretend I stop at stop signs, or even try to convince you to.  But at least slow down for them, and look both ways before you cross.  And always come to a full stop if there is cross traffic which has the legal right of way.

[Someone has written an article with counterpoints to this one.  Personally, I disagree with him on a few points (1st off, that you should never buy a used bike!), but it is always worth getting 2nd opinions and different perspectives: http://hiawathacyclery.blogspot.com/2012/01/bike-buyers-guide-for-beginners.html ]

Great read with good info. thank you.

Cicerolover2 years ago
I don't know, I think a lot of what you buy, especially used, has to do with what's available in your area. I ended up buying from walmart because I had no other choice. I'm exceptionally short, and have a very feminine figure. After shifting through craigslist, and all the local bike shops, (there's only three in my area only two of which sell used) I simply couldn't find a used bike that fit my needs and most importantly just fit. Finding a 14 inch frame used is almost impossible. Sure I could've ordered a new one that fit but 500 was really way out of my budget. My area doesn't have much of a bike community, and the one that does exist is touring and racing. I was never interested in the road bike style. The other factor that convinced me to stick to the walmart one I bought was mostly for how short my commute is. It's just for getting around my college campus and if I ride 5 miles on it in a day I'll be very surprised. So basically I had to decide just how serious I was about this, and since I've never used a bike for this purpose, I bought myself a starter.

(I also put it together myself with the help of my bike mechanic friends. So I know it was assembled correctly.)

All the information in this is great to know! And I wish I had found this first, it would've saved me hours of research. I only wished I lived in a more bike friendly community. I live in a very rural area where commuting by bike is very impractical due to the fact that everything is so far away.
galaxie2922 years ago
Been casually looking at used bikes online for a couple weeks before stumbling on this article. Great info. I had heard similar sentiments to yours on buying dept. store bikes previously, but other than "don't buy huffy" didn't really know what to look for. I feel much more confident looking around now. Thank you! Good job!
Sparker943 years ago
Great Instructable. I wish I had read this before I bought 2 schwinns off C-List. One has a small defect with the derailler but the other actually has a missing sprocket and bent derailler and two bike shops said they aren't worth fixing although they are like new still with the rubber nubs on the tires. I should have stuck with GT!