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Safety and cycling tips


four safety rules

Follow the law

Your safety and the image of bicyclists depend on you. You have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.   See the California Vehicle Code for more information.  You may also find  this article helpful:

Be predictable

Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.

be conspicuous

Ride where people can see you and wear bright clothing. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors. Make eye contact with others and don’t ride on sidewalks.  Use  a daytime running light (DRL)  See our Bright Bike  offer to members for a free DRL.  In the  News.

Think ahead

Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other people on bikes will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.

See the California Vehicle Code for more information.  You may also find  this  safety video   and this article  helpful.

Tips for beginners


Saddle height and handle bars should be adjusted to your leg length, arm length and shoulder width.  A good fit on the your bike is essential to your comfort and safety.  Most bike shops offer fitting services.  


There are two chainrings in the front. The chain is moved from one ring to the other ring by moving the lever that controls the front derailleur. The smaller ring is for going up gentle rolling hills or steeper ones. The bigger chainring is for flat or downhill riding. It’s important to remember to anticipate which ring you will be needing before you need it. This anticipation will make shifting the chain from one ring to the other, much easier and quicker shifts.

The cogs on the rear cassette are generally sized from 13 teeth on the smallest, to a gradual larger in size to perhaps 28t, 30t, 32, or 36t or 38t. The larger cogs are used for starting out from a stopped position, going up rolling hills or even stepper ones. The right shifter lever operates the rear derailleur. Generally a pulling or pushing motion shifts the chain from cog to cog.  It’s very important to anticipate shifting into the larger cogs, before you actually need them.  
This anticipation will make the shifting smooth and effortless.  It’s also important to keep the “line” of the chain relatively straight. That means that when the chain is on the small ring on the front, it should generally run in a straight line back to a larger cog on the rear cassette. The opposite is also true, that when the chain is on the large ring in front, it should run in a straight line back to the smaller cogs in the rear. Avoid shifting the chain to a position that places the chain on the small ring to the small cog, and the large ring to the large cog. This is called “cross shifting”. It can also place undue stress on the chain and the derailleurs, and should be avoided.


It’s important to use both brakes at the same time when slowing or stopping. The left brake lever almost always operates the front wheel brake. The right one operates the rear. Always brake before a turn or when stopping. The right brake should be activated with a firm squeeze.  After you activate the rear brake, gently begin squeezing the left brake lever. This method insures that the back wheel does the most braking and the front one, less. This method insures safer, even wheel braking.


Safety is primary when riding in a group. Safe group riding means communicating with the riders behind and around you, and always alerting them to any of your intentions to change speed or direction.  Hand/arm signals are used to make right or left turns. Use the left arm pointing left for left turns and the right arm pointing to the right, for right turns.

Group rides usually mean riders are riding single file, or in side-by-side pairs of riders. This style of riding increases the necessity of verbal and nonverbal signaling. Make sure to signal slowing, turning or alerting the rider behind you of approaching obstacles. Obstacles such as parked cars, dumpsters or road hazards such as road debris and glass should be signaled. Make sure you know and use these signals:

                                Left turn                                 Right Turn                or                    Right Turn                          Slowing/ Stopping

Use these common verbal warnings to signal riders behind you of  approaching hazards:

“Car Up!” 

“Car Right!”
“Rider Up!”

“Rider Off!”
When a car is approaching from the opposite direction the group is travelling in, especially on narrow roads.

When cars are entering the roadway from a street on the right of the road you are travelling on .

When a rider is approaching from the opposite direction or when the group comes up on a solo rider from behind.

When you are leaving the line to pull off on the roadside. 

Riding in a group is fun but can be challenging. The fun is that riding closely behind a rider can save you up to 30% of your energy. This generally means that by sharing the front of the group, you might be able to ride as much as 30% faster and farther by riding in the “draft”. The energy saving depends on how close you ride behind the front rider. Riding closely behind another rider however, requires concentration, practice and a steady riding style. When riders are riding behind you, they expect they you will be their eyes, and alert them of any dangers that might be quickly approaching. They also expect that you will not slow, stop or make radical changes of direction suddenly. If you do, you put both riders at risk of colliding. Constant vigilance and a smooth consistent riding style are the keystones of group riding.

Steady riding style should be practiced on your solo rides.  Smooth turning of the pedals, not stomping on them, is an important skill which leads to a smooth and straight line riding style. Smooth pedaling is an art. In order to achieve smooth circular pedaling, first start with a good bike fit and second, plenty of practice. The cadence of pedal tuning should be on the higher side, around 80 rpms, not lower, unless going uphill, when your cadence might normally be slower. Plenty of practice pedaling in circles, not squares, is the most important skill necessary to efficient, safe and gratifying group riding.