By Alissa de Vogel
Today we bring you the fifth (but not quite final) installment of National Etiquette Week here at SFist. So far we've provided you with helpful tips on how to ride the bus with dignity, cross the street like a grown-up, and behave yourself at the club. Our final piece today pertains to the topic of cycling etiquette.
Providing tips on how to behave onesself on a bike is no easy task. In fact, we were reluctant to even broach this subject given how controversial it seems to be. Like it or not, urban cycling exists in a legal grey area right now. Yes, cyclists are supposed to be held to the same driving laws as motorists and can be penalized for the same transgressions. On the other hand, many of these laws are incredibly impractical for cyclists and extremely difficult to enforce. We could spend all day debating the merits and difficulties of stopping at every stop sign, but that's not the point of this piece. The following advice is designed to have wide applicability for all cyclists regardless of an individuals regard for the rules of the road.
Don't blow past other cyclists without even so much as a courteous “On your left!” Say something. Ring your bell. It's annoying and disorienting to have someone suddenly zoom past you when you're riding in a tight pack on Market Street. If you're really in hat big of a hurry, announcing yourself is just a nice thing to do.
When possible, Try to Ride with the Pace of Bike Traffic
Are you one of those cyclists who likes to ride insanely slow in the lowest gear possible, and then blow every single stop and light with no regard for oncoming traffic? If so, you're a special kind of menace. How about you adjust that equation? Bike faster, spend a few seconds stopped, and you'll reach your destination in the same time. Also, you look dumb doing this.
When Approaching a Group of Stopped Cyclists at a Light, Stop at the Back of the Pack
Don't weasel your way to the front of the pack only to fall to the back again when the light turns green. Nobody likes someone sneaking past them with a half inch clearance. Can you imagine cars doing something like this? No. (Because you hate cars.) Stop at the back. If you want to be in the front, go faster.
General Rule for Bike Parking: Think Before You Lock
Be careful not to ding other peoples' frames with your lock. Don't snaggle your drop bars with someone else's drop bars and make that person untangle them. Don't take up more spots than you need to (see photo above). If you knock someone's bike over, pick it up. Remind yourself that others will be parking around you, and park accordingly. (See also: The Gothamist Guide To Basic Bike Lock Etiquette and Safety.)
Please do not force those around you - pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike - to listen to your music. No matter how much we love "Baba O'Riley," everyone will hate it coming from your Boombotix on the way to work in the morning. You are the bike lane equivalent of a teenager on the back of the bus blasting music from your Nintendo DSi. Cut that out.
For a few more tips on how to conduct yourself on the road, check out last week's article for Bike to Work Day.