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Since the early 1800’s bicycles have been used as a mode of transportation and they are the most energy efficient form of transportation invented. In the early 20th century, bicycle riders organized the “Good Roads” movement leading to the nation’s first paved roads. People ride bicycles for a great number of reasons. Some of the most common are:
- for enjoyment and leisure,
- as a form of exercise to better ones health,
- for the environment,
- to build community,
- to commute to work or school
- to shop or run errands
Bicycles on Public Transit
Bicycles are a great transportation mode to use for trips that cover a short distance. For those that live or work within close proximity to major a transit center, a great example of such a trip is to cover the distance between your home and workplace using a bicycle. For specific details regarding bike policies for each of the major transit providers in the County click the following links:
Refreshing Your Riding Skills
Bicycling is more fun when riders understand and follow the rules of the road. In addition to the Share the Road videos (see side bar), here are some key tips to make sure your ride is a breeze:
- Follow the same rules as driving: Stop at stop signs and signals, ride on the right in the same direction as car traffic, pass on the left, and signal your turns. For a graphic of hand signals click here.
- Be predictable and visible: When riding on the road, ride in a straight line and away from the curb so other road users will see you.
- Position yourself at intersections: When you want to turn right, ride in the right lane. To go straight, signal and position yourself in the straight-through lane. Remember to check traffic and prepare well before the intersection.
- Two ways to turn left: On low traffic streets, position yourself on the left side of the lane, signal, and turn left when there’s no on-coming traffic. Where there’s high traffic or multiple lanes, or if you’re not comfortable getting into the left-turn lane, make a “two-stage” turn: Go straight across, then turn your bike so you can cross the second leg of the turn. For a how to video click here.
- Ride defensively: Watch and listen to other roadway users. Defensive riding prevents crashes. Use appropriate safety equipment like a light, bell, or helmet to reduce injury or prevent a crash.
If it’s been a while since you rode a bike, practice on quiet streets or trails before going for a longer ride and consider taking a bike skills brush-up class. Here's a short slide show refresher course. To read up about bike rules of the road, check the California Department of Motor Vehicles “Sharing the Road” information. A complete list of all the California laws related to bicycling is here. Contact the San Mateo County Active Transportation office to get friendly, personalized assistance to answer basic questions, advise on safe routes, or to schedule a ride-along.