Bike Lane Etiquette



  • No salmoning
  • Let people know when you are passing them
  • Motorcycles, mopeds, and e-vehicles that are capable with competing with car traffic speeds belong in the car lane
  • Pedestrians have right of way
  • Pull onto the sidewalk if you need to stop, don't stop in the middle of the bike lane

On the west side of Manhattan lies one of the greatest urban engineering marvels of the 21st century. A structure that helps people every day from Battery Park all the way to Washington heights: the Hudson River Greenway. It is one of the longest protected bike lanes in the city and every day thousands of people use it to commute to work, run errands, go sightseeing, and exercise. It is one of the first protected bike lanes in the city and is still relatively new to the city, with the first section being put in about twenty years ago, and it has slowly filled in over time. Since then many more protected bike lanes have been added in the city and while the city still has a long way to go, these new bike lanes provide a much safer option to get around the city. That is, as long as they're being used correctly. When it comes to riding in the bike lane it's pretty straightforward, but there are a few golden rules everyone should know when it comes to bike lane etiquette.

The most important rule to follow in the bike lane is to go the right way. Some bike lanes, such as the Hudson River Greenway, have two lanes so riders can ride in each direction. Most lanes, however, are only one way. Going the wrong way in a bike lane, casually referred to as “Salmoning” due to the fishes tendency to swim upstream, is dangerous, annoying, and disrespectful to the other riders on the road. Typically if there is a bike lane going one way, the next block has a bike lane going the other way. Take a second to find a safer route to use so you don't endanger yourself or anyone else. 

Sometimes even when you are riding the right way you still end up passing other cyclists. Maybe you’re out for a good workout while someone else is out for a joy ride or a parent is riding with their child. There are two things you need to do in order to pass someone safely. The first thing is to let them know which side you are passing them. Shout out “On your left” or “On your right” so they know to watch out for you. You also need to make sure that when passing someone, YOU are the one to cut into the car lane. This ensures that you give the rider a wide enough berth to get around them safely, you just need to make sure you check for cars before doing so.

Of course, you might be better off in the car lane depending on what you're riding. Another aspect of bike lane etiquette is to only use it if you belong in it. If you are riding a moped or a motorcycle you should be in the car lane, and that isn’t really up for debate. The same goes if you are riding an e-vehicle that is traveling at speeds that compete with the car traffic. Bikes and skateboards typically don’t travel much faster than 15 mph. If you are riding an ebike that is going 30mph with ease you are putting all the other riders in the bike lane in danger, and are better off in the traffic lane. 

One final piece of advice might seem obvious but in my experience it isn’t as obvious to everyone as I would expect. Only go in the bike lane if you are riding. If you pop a tire and need to walk your bike, walk on the sidewalk. You won’t be putting pedestrians in danger on the sidewalk but you will be putting riders in danger in the bike lane. Same goes if you need to stop for a minute to grab a drink of water, or check your gps. Pull onto the sidewalk so you don’t cause an accident. 

A lot of bike lane etiquette is up for debate. Some of these rules matter less if you are in areas that are less busy, but ultimately they will keep you and the other riders on the road safe. Always make sure to respect other riders safety, and keep yourself safe too!

Author: Benjamin Dai

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