Riding to work

I recently read over the rules of [road] cycling as put forth by Velominati.  Some of these rules make sense and some are just intended to enhance the mystique of cycling while wearing strange clothes.

Lately, my own saddle time has been going to and from work.  I wondered about Rules for the Commute and after finding some online decided to list my own ideas with a few thoughts.

Rules for the Commute

1. Your safety is your own responsibility.  This first rule (more declarative than imperative) is broad and inclusive in nature.  Be visible. Be predictable. Be alert.

I wear a helmet and along with headlights and tail lights, a neon yellow wind breaker.  I see guys, during day and night, out riding in black or other dark clothing.  No doubt they are just dressing according to their own culture which might have some sort of death wish associated with it.  Not me.  I want to be seen.  I also decline to wear ear buds or talk on the phone while pedaling along.

I have read some bloggers that advocate cyclists ignoring all traffic laws.  The reasoning is that these laws are written for motor powered vehicles, which bikes are not.  I don’t agree.  Although I have run my share of stop signs and red lights, I refrain from doing so in the presence of traffic.  I see no reason why I should needlessly antagonize other drivers.  I am learning to take the lane more and more.  If someone passes me, then I hope they do so safely.  The issue of bike lanes and their misuse is more than I am ready to get into.  Sometimes I use them, sometimes not.

I usually take the same route each day.  I am learning where the potholes, bumps and bad sections of the road are so I can avoid them even in the dark.  Using the same route daily puts me in the vision of the same drivers day after day.  I realize this might be a double-edged sword.

2.  Acknowledge other cyclists.   As Velominati says, we are all brothers and sisters out there.  A simple nod to a fellow cyclist is sufficient.  In addition, I try to tell any young rider that they have nice wheels.

 3.  You are just trying to get somewhere.  There is no need to suffer.  I am not training while commuting.  But I am not moseying along either.  The only reason to sweat is because it is hot out there.

4.  Let any loved ones know you made it without incident.  Many ways to do this, phone, email, text.

5.  Be ready for any change in the weather.  Rain gear is a good possible addition to your cycling attire.

So there is my offering of Rules for the Commute.  I welcome any comments, even from non-cyclists! 🙂

Stay happy,


About rlhoover

A perspective on life and cycling in the Ozarks. I started serious cycling in 2008, after seeing my wife be on the bike for a few years. We have biked many places and hope to continue. I am no where near being a real good cyclist, but I have fun trying to improve. Who am I kidding? Me? Improve??
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8 Responses to Riding to work

  1. I don’t commute by bike (it would be odd to do so since I work in my living room), but I would if I could and I appreciate your very sensible rules of the road. I have a question: is it common in the States for cyclists to give nods, thumbs up, a wave, a ‘hey’, or any other sign of acknowledgement to each other? It’s pretty common here (in France), but not universal.

    • rlhoover says:

      Gerry, I can only answer for myself. I acknowledge a serious cyclist because I consider myself and them members of a community. I know that sounds elitist, but if I am correct in thinking that these fellow wheelmen experience the same events and thought processes that I do, then I owe them a greeting in some small manner. Yes, that definitely sounds elitist. I repent.

    • Steve says:

      In my experience, acknowledging fellow riders is more common in the States than elsewhere. I suspect that this is due to cycling being much more of a novelty here, making the encounters with other cyclists to be less frequent and more unique – “Well, look over there, another cyclist! Hello and good day to you!”

      If residents of Copenhagen were to follow this rule, they would need to learn how to ride with only one hand as the other would be constantly waving. I see a similar reduction in exchanges in America’s urban areas for similar reasons.

      • Thanks for those tidbits of info, you two. I don’t think you’re being elitist at all, but then again, I am a member of the elite, so I would say that.

        Steve, I think you’re on to something there. When I was in Belgium this year I asked the guys I was with about the lack of waving and they said the same thing, i.e. there are just too many cyclists to make it a practical habit.

        • rlhoover says:

          Jan and I have been seeing more cyclists out there the past year. I have no idea if it is because of personal economic conditions or that we consider ourselves bi-vehicular and just notice bikes out there more. We will see how things go as winter cranks up. Thanks for the comments, Gerry.

      • rlhoover says:

        I have found myself greeting more cyclists lately. This as a result of this post and the comments it has generated. Thanks, Steve, for your comment.

  2. Great post.
    I acknowledge “box store bike” riders as well as “serious” riders. Bicycles are bicycles. I’ve even had the occasion to stop a “box store bike” rider to encourage riding on the right rather than against traffic as they all seem to do. Once I explained the logic and the safety enhancement, he was a convert to law abiding cyclist. My only real rule for commuting is…

    6. Make yourself do it every day.

    • rlhoover says:

      I hereby adopt your addition. So far the only interaction I have had with a BSB rider was to ask/yell why he was on my side of the road. Going opposite directions, we were soon too far apart for me to hear any reply/curse. Here’s to future communication with commuters of all types!

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