Electric bikes are perfect for people searching for a new way to commute to work, wanting to ease into exercise or looking for a fun hobby or activity. These unique bicycles are equipped with a motor and a battery to help riders pedal faster & farther on their bikes with less effort. They provide numerous benefits from being a sustainable transportation option, beneficial to physical and mental health and providing a fun outdoor activity for people wanting to explore their surroundings.
Electric bikes are continuing to grow in popularity. If you're considering purchasing an e-bike or just bought one, it's important that you prioritize safety. You can stay safe on your e-bike by following the bike traffic rules and learning electric bike etiquette on the road. Check out these common bike etiquette rules you should follow for a great ride on your e-bike!
1. Always Yield to Pedestrians and Other Vehicles
You may encounter stopped or slow-moving cars and bicyclists while you're riding. It's important to pass them safely and yield to other vehicles or riders when approaching. Slowing down and yielding helps you observe the area to ensure it is safe for you to pass and continue on your ride. E-bike riders must also yield to pedestrians.
2. Know Where You Can Ride Your Bike
Whether you plan to ride your e-bike on roadways, sidewalks or bike paths, it's essential you research local and state laws regarding where you can ride your bike. Some states allow e-bikes to follow the same law and regulations as traditional bicycles, while others have other guidelines for electric bikes, mopeds or motor-driven bicycles.
Many states have a law preventing cyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Even if it's technically allowed, it's a better idea to stay on the road, regardless of where you live. Riding an e-bike on a busy sidewalk with on-foot pedestrians doesn't create the best riding circumstances. Riding on the sidewalk may also make you less visible to vehicles turning on the road. Before heading out on your electric bike, look up the guidelines for bike riding in your area or ask your local bike shop for places you can ride your e-bike.
3. Be Respectful of Other Riders
Your electric bike can travel much faster compared to traditional bikes. It's important to mind the speed you're traveling when you're riding around other cyclists and drivers and follow the speed limits in place.
Use your bell to help signal you're passing someone. Your bell, along with a friendly voice, are great ways to get someone's attention to tell them you're passing by.
Being kind to other cyclists and slowing down when you're riding near them will respect their space and yours. Since e-bikes can reach high speeds and become a dangerous vehicle if you don't follow the rules, respecting other cyclists and the roads can help make you a better rider.
4. Ride With the Flow of Traffic
Ride your e-bike in the same direction as the flow of traffic when you're on the road. In nearly all circumstances, bike riders should follow the same rules as vehicles on the road. This means riding on the right side of the road, signaling your turns and yielding to pedestrians crossing the road.
Riding with the flow of traffic helps you stay visible to other cars and allows you to obey the traffic rules of the road. You'll ride where other vehicles and cyclists expect you to be and stay safe on the road.
5. Stay Alert and Aware
Staying alert on the road is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself safe. Think ahead and anticipate what other cyclists and drivers will do next while riding. If drivers have their turn signal on, wait until they officially start turning before making any lane changes or continuing forward. Watch out for any potholes, tree branches and other debris or road hazards. Also, make sure your bike is in working condition before heading out. Check your tires, brakes, seat and other components to ensure your ride will be safe.
6. Yield Before Turning or Switching Lanes
There are moments when you'll need to switch lanes to pass someone, avoid an object in the road or make a left turn. Making these maneuvers on the road can be completed safely if you're fully aware of your surroundings and you yield before turning or switching lanes.
Knowing how to pass on a bike is essential to your safety and etiquette on the road. Know that you are sharing the road with others, including cyclists and cars, and you'll need to slow down and recognize when you're able to safely pass someone.
Yielding to other vehicles before turning or switching lanes can help prevent collisions and other accidents on the road. When you slow down and ensure it's safe to turn or move to the other lane, stay facing forward and claim your spot in the other lane or spot in the road.
7. Follow All Traffic Signs and Signals
Since you're sharing the road with other vehicles, you must abide by all of the same traffic signals and signs as other cars and vehicles. Riding a bike may seem completely different from driving a car, but it's against the law to ride through a stop sign, pass through a crosswalk when pedestrians are crossing or going through a red light.
The best way to stay safe on the road and protect others is by knowing all of the traffic signs and signals before riding your electric bike on the road. Licensed drivers may already know how to follow all of the road signals, but unlicensed drivers may need a crash course before taking the bike out. Research the basic signs and signals you'll encounter on the road to ensure you maneuver your e-bike as safely as possible.
8. Use Hand Signals
Like cars, cyclists are required to use signals to show what direction they're turning or what lane they're entering. When you're riding your electric bike on the road, you'll need to use hand signals to alert other drivers and cyclists on the road. If you haven't used bike hand signals before, you should learn the three basic hand signals before hitting the road.
Hand signals are important because they help prevent accidents between cyclists and cars. Hand signals communicate to drivers where you're going and how they can avoid you. Here are the three hand signals you should know:
- Left turn: Signal you're turning left by fully stretching your left arm out to the side. Straighten out your hand and face your palm to the front. You'll complete this signal before you initiate or complete a lane change or turn.
- Right turn: You have two options for signaling a right turn on your e-bike. Option one is stretching out your right arm to the side, similar to the left turn signal. Option two is positioning your left arm at a 90-degree angle with your hand facing up and palm facing forward. Make either right turn signal before you switch lanes or turn.
- Stop: One of the most common hand signals you'll use is the stop signal. This signal is important to show cars or cyclists behind you that you're stopping so they won't run into you. Signal you're stopping by making a 90-degree angle with your left hand, arm facing down and palm facing backward.
9. Ride Furthest to the Right
The lane furthest to the right is better for slower traffic, and lanes to the left are better for passing. Since your e-bike doesn't reach the high speeds that cars do, make sure you stay in the right lane for the entirety of your bike ride. You should only shift over the left lane if you need to make a left turn or pass someone.
When you plan to pass a cyclist or a car, make sure you announce you're passing them so they understand you're riding to their side for a moment.
10. Follow Helmet Laws
Helmet laws vary between states. Before riding our electric bike, research helmet age requirements in your state and helmet laws regarding passengers on bikes. While wearing a helmet is optional for some people, it's always the best idea to wear one regardless of age when going for a ride on your electric bike. Wearing a helmet can protect you from serious injuries resulting from collisions or other accidents.
11. Use Bicycle Lanes
A great location you can ride your bike is a bike lane. Using the bike lane rather than the road gives you a safer spot for bikers to ride. Instead of sharing the road with vehicles or sharing the sidewalk with on-foot pedestrians, you're riding only with other cyclists.
Research the laws in your state regarding bicycle lanes before riding. Some states may require cyclists to use the bike lanes if they're available. Riders who fail to use the bike lanes in the situation could be issued a ticket.
12. Learn How to Share Lanes
If the road you're traveling doesn't include bike lanes, ride in the lanes with other drivers. All states allow cyclists to share a lane with another vehicle if there is enough room. If you're riding in the road, ensure the lane gives you several feet between you and the other vehicle. If the road isn't wide enough to share, ride in the center of the lane.
13. Wear Bright Clothing
Making sure you're visible on the road is a great way to stay safe while riding your electric bike. Putting on bright and colorful clothing or reflective gear will help you stand out and be seen by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Also, ensure your e-bike includes front and back lights or reflectors to help others see you when it's dark or low visibility.