Nashville B-cycle is committed to promoting safe cycling!
No single item of equipment is more important in reducing serious head injuries than a helmet, but it must fit correctly to protect you. Make sure your helmet is certified for safety by SNELL, ASTM or ANSI. Helmets should be replaced after a crash or after about five years of normal use.
Helmets are required by law in Tennessee for riders under the age of 16.
How to test for proper helmet fit:
- The helmet sits level on your head – not back at an angle.
- The helmet fits securely and doesn’t shift to the front, sides or back of your head.
- Position the strap under your chin just loose enough to allow two fingers to slide through.
These partners have special offers for Nashville B-cycle members! Check out one of these shops to get your helmet.
Gran Fondo Cycles
Murfreesboro Outdoor and Bicycle
For the most part, people driving cars all follow the same rules as each other. Traffic flows with relative safety because all drivers can reasonably predict what other drivers will do. When you as a cyclist disobey a traffic law, drivers can’t predict what you will do next, so they’re not sure how to respond.
If you operate your bike like a vehicle – stopping at red lights, signaling turns, turning from the correct lane – drivers can predict what you will do. And when you follow the rules of the road, motorists will come to respect cyclists as drivers of vehicles, which is what bikes really are.
Know the traffic laws and follow them
In Tennessee, bicyclists are granted all of the rights and are subjected to all of the duties applicable to cars. In addition, regulations specific to bikes can be found in Nashville's bike ordinance at Municipal Codes. Look for Title 12, Chapter 12.60. Walk/Bike Nashville provides links and legal information on their website here.
Make eye contact with drivers, signal your moves and make noise when necessary.
Be confident and alert
When you practice good riding skills, assert your rights safely and ride predictably, other roadway users will take you seriously.
Be assertive - not aggressive
Don’t compromise your own safety for the convenience of others, but do be courteous to other road users without giving up your right to the road.
Wear brightly colored clothes. B-cycles are equipped with a white front headlamp and both a flashing red rear lamp and a rear reflector.
Look behind you
You must know how to look over your shoulder while riding in traffic, without losing your balance or swerving. This simple act helps you to safely move left or right, avoid hazards, change lanes or make a turn. A look over your shoulder also indicates to approaching cars that you are aware of their presence.
Be ready to brake
Always keep your fingers near or over your brake levers so you can stop quickly. When you brake, squeeze the front and rear brakes at the same time. Using the front brake alone can flip your bike. Remember that you will need more distance to come to a stop in wet weather.
Ride safely with others
When riding with others, you can legally ride 2 abreast if it does not impede traffic, but not more. If you are riding slower than cars, it is courteous to give drivers reasonable opportunities to pass safely.
Communicate with others
Bikes are smaller, slower and quieter than other vehicles, so you need to make an extra effort to communicate with drivers and make sure they notice you.
Be alert and aware
As you ride you have to avoid two things: hazards on the ground in front of you and the cars and pedestrians all around you. Accordingly, you should always know what’s going on with the pavement and with the surrounding traffic. To do this, get into the habit of looking at the ground about 30 feet in front of you, then up at traffic, then back down at the ground.
Use hand signals
Hand signals are an important way to communicate, but use them only when you know you can remove your hand from the grip without losing control of your bike. Although some people remember the old hand signals taught in school, you may do better to point in the direction you intend to go; however, the old “stop” hand signal still applies.
Traffic laws say that slower vehicles should stay to the right. Since bikes are typically slower than cars, these rules usually apply, but there are exceptions.
When to ride to the right
Stay to the right when you are moving slower than the prevailing traffic – which is most of the time. Take your rightful share of the roadway a safe distance from the curb or parked cars. When you ride a little bit further from the curb, oncoming motorists and those on cross streets can see you better.
When to ride in the middle of the lane
When you’re moving at the same speed as cars, it is safe to ride in the middle of the lane. This is also true when you have to avoid pavement surface hazards. When you’re on a narrow road, riding in the middle requires drivers to pass you as they would a car - in the opposite lane - instead of trying to squeeze past too closely.
When riding on a street with bike lanes, use them - it’s the safest place to be. However, you have the right to ride in the adjacent travel lanes when surface hazards - like debris or standing water - are present. You may also need to exit the bike lane in order to merge into the appropriate lane for your movement through an intersection.
Never ride against traffic
Some riders reason that if it’s safest for pedestrians to walk counter to the flow of cars on streets without bikeways, it must also be true for cyclists. However, 20% of car/bike collisions happen when cyclists are going the wrong way.
Follow these simple guidelines:
Look behind you.
Use a hand signal to let drivers know you are merging left.
When clear, merge into the appropriate lane for a left turn.
The box turn
For cyclists less comfortable in traffic, at some complex intersections, or when traffic is especially heavy, you may need to use a box turn:
Proceed straight through the intersection remaining in your usual position on the right side of the road.
When you get to the curb on the other side, reorient your bike so that you are facing the direction in which you want to go.
Proceed at the appropriate time.
Handling Common Hazards
Don’t weave in and out of the cars parked along a street – it will confuse drivers. Instead, ride in a continuous, straight line about three feet away from the parked cars.
If a car door does open in front of you, yell and brake.
Swerve to the left only if you know you have enough room to do so.
Know where a driver's blind spots are and stay out of them.
Don’t follow a vehicle so closely that you can’t see potholes or other pavement problems until it’s too late to react.
Don’t follow a vehicle so closely that it blocks your field of vision.
Position yourself so that the car in front of you doesn’t block other drivers’ views of you – especially at intersections, where there are a lot of cars at a lot of angles relative to you.
Some railroad tracks cross streets diagonally. The gap between the rails and the adjacent pavement is an easy place to get your bike tire stuck and have an accident. Cross the tracks as close to a right angle as possible, especially when the street is wet.
Roads to avoid
All interstate highways and some state roads restrict access by bicycles. All limited access roadways are marked at entry ramps.
*Adapted from Metro Nashville Public Works