Safety & Etiquette
Promoting a Positive Campus Bike Culture
Following these guidelines will not only help to keep you safer, but will help to establish a positive cycling culture on our campus. When you use safe cycling practices, you are setting an example for others. When you are curteous to pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists, you improve general attitudes towards bicycles.
The most important piece of equipment when cycling is a helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.
According to The League of American Bicyclists, a properly fitting helmet should be "level and two fingers width above your eyebrows," and the "chin strap should be about half an inch below your chin."
No special clothing is required for riding a bike. You can bike in the same clothes you would ordinarily wear to work or class. However, there are certainly measures you can take to make your trip more comfortable.
If your bike does not have a chain guard, protect flapping pantlegs by rolling them up or securing them with a cuff clip or strap. There are many products available for this, but something as simple as a rubber band will work as well.
In general, fitted clothing will be less likely to cause irritation from rubbing. You may also wish to choose materials that will wick moisture away from the skin. This is as important in cold weather as it is in hot weather—excess sweat will cause you to feel even colder in the winter and, depending on the temperature, can even be dangerous. See Winter Weather below for more.
Proper signalling is an important part of both bicycle safety and courtesy to those around you. If you are approaching a pedestrian or another cyclist from behind to pass them, use a bell or call out so they know you are there. Doing so will help to prevent collisions, and nobody like to be startled by being passed unexpectedly. If you are approaching a pedestrian head on or at an angle and they do not see you, give warning and use extra care to give them as much room as possible.
Likewise, it is important to signal your intent to turn to those around you, just like when you are driving a car. Below are the proper hand signals for left and right turns.
Being visible is crucial for cyclists, whether on the road, the sidewalk, or the trail. Visibility is especially important when riding at night. Reflectors are generally not enough because they require headlights to be in close proximity before they work. The Fayetteville bicycle traffic regulations require a front lamp that is visible from at least 500 feet when riding at night. It is also advisable to use a red rear flashing light. Other strategies include wearing bright colors or reflective clothing.
A key principle to keep in mind is that faster-moving vehicles should be mindful and courteous to slower-moving vehicles and pedestrians. Motorists passing cyclists on the road must give at least 3 feet of space, but using a passing lane is preferable if one is available. Cyclists should give as much space as possible and give warning when passing slower-moving cyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians can do their part by being aware of their surroundings and keeping to the right on sidewalks and trails.
When riding in the rain, waterproof clothing, a rain jacket, or a poncho are all options for staying dry. Visibility will also be a concern in overcast conditions, so be sure to follow the guidelines above.
Cold weather does not necessarily mean you have to put your bicycle in storage until spring. If you are so inclined, the right gear will keep you riding in all but the worst winter weather. Layers of clothing are essential, as well as thick gloves or mittens, warm hats, and ear warmers. Hoods are not advisable, as they will tend to catch the wind. The key is to stay warm but wear clothes that are breathable, as the moisture from sweat will ultimately make you colder. Exercise extreme caution when riding on snow, and always be alert for patches of ice.