Commuting and Cars

Motorcyclists and bicyclists have a name for car drivers. They call ’em Brain Dead Cagers. You’ll soon learn why, and you’ll wonder if you were as awful before you started biking to work. These tips will help you avoid accidents and manage the risk of sharing the road with lunatics.

Be predictable.

Obey traffic laws the way you would in your car. Signal your turns. Ride on the right.Do you remember the hand signals you had to learn way back in Driver Ed? They use your left hand. Hand outstretched to the left to signal a left turn. Hand down to signal a stop. Hand up to signal a right turn. In some states, like California, you can point right with your right hand to signal a right turn. I usually do this, because I figure even somebody who’s forgotten the standard hand signals will understand what “pointing right” means.

Pretend you’re invisible.

Act as if car drivers can’t see you. It isn’t so far from the truth: car drivers will see bicycles, dismiss them as unthreatening, and forget about them.This is a variant on the general theme of riding defensively.

Pretend they’re out to get you.

Some drivers are total nutcases. Don’t bait them. Just get out of their way. Write down their license numbers and report them to the local police. Live to ride another day.

Share the road.

Here’s the order of terror on the road:


Notice that skaters and pedestrians fall below you. Be courteous to them. Warn them when you’re about to pass them. (You can ring a bell, if your bike has one, or say, “I’m passing on your left!”) Be especially careful if you’re on a recreational path shared with pedestrians. Don’t terrorize them the way cars terrorize you. And while you’re at it, be nice to the car drivers who are pleasant. Give ’em a friendly wave of thanks.


5 Comments so far
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greaty site lots of interesting stuff

Comment by andrew

[…] you want to learn more about commuting to work by bike, here are a few links for you: Commuting by Bicycle, A Case for Bicycle Commuting (superb reading, an essential blog on commuting by bike and its […]

Pingback by Two Wheels Make a Change |

I don’t think it is good thing to deamonise car drivers on this web site. It just encourages an antagonistic relationship between road users. Similar to car drivers deamonising truckers, it doesn’t help the situation. We all have to use the road so we might as well learn to get along. Sure there will be bad drivers/cyclists/ truckers in every city but I find most motorists treat me well on the road when I am commuting by bike in Brisbane (Aus). Likewise on days when I drive to work I give cyclists a fair amount of space so other car drivers see what is appropriate driving behaviour around cyclists.

Comment by Mitch

good point mitch im with you on that one

Comment by craigdurkee

Not only do cars see bikes as invisible … living in a tourist town, I’ve discovered many pedestrians see me as harmless and invisible ….. as they chose to cross the street against the light with a wife and three small children trailing slowing after them!! Of course, I love to come to a complete stop to let them pass — I don’t complain and typically call out a cheery ‘hello’ (hey, I’m here!!!) as I know it is important to be a good and friendly cyclist. But, in the back of my mind I am certain they are the assholes blaring their SUV’s horn at me as they have to slow down just a bit during rush hour.

must stay nice

Comment by Alex in DC

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