Barred in DC’s Rules for Biking in DC

As someone who bikes to work most days for past few years and still have my Capital Bikeshare membership, I’ve witnessed a lot bad biking (sure, pedestrians and driving too). I’m discouraged that pedestrians and drivers are often irritated at me for actually yielding to pedestrians or stopping at stop signs (they basically expect bikers not to follow the law for their own safety/liability).

As a result, I’ve come up with a bunch of non-WABA sanctioned rules of biking (note: this is definitely not legal advice) that I try to follow and hope you do too:

  • Follow the law if you can.

This is easy if you don’t want to think about it that too much

  • Otherwise, bike how you want so long you’re not jeopardizing the safety of others, or not inconveniencing or even making those who are walking, biking, or driving legally to think they’re in danger.

Sure, go ahead and run that stop sign or light if you know there’s no cars or pedestrians around. Bike way around or behind the pedestrians when they’re in the crosswalk. Ride on the sidewalk until  you see some pedestrians, and then ride slowly way around them or dismount your bike (definitely, don’t be an ass and ring your bell while you’re on the sidewalk). Salamander down the wrong way on a one way street but let those biking the right way take the bike lane while you wait between cars or go on the street.

  • Stop being so defensive about cyclists not following the law.

Every PoPville, GGW, or DCist (RIP) comment section about bike lanes or scofflaw cyclists has the inevitable surfeit of  whataboutism “cars don’t follow laws”  “cars are so more dangerous than bikes” and other excuses. Stop being so damn defensive, own up to the fact that a huge percentage of folks riding bikes don’t actually follow the law hand realize that pedestrians often hates bikes just as much as cars (sure bikes are a lot smaller than cars, but they do and have seriously hurt and killed pedestrians, even here in DC).

  • Apologize for/acknowledge bad cycling behavior.

As much as like to feel that I’m a good biker, I often slip up and bike too close to a pedestrian or where I shouldn’t. Saying “sorry, my bad” goes a long way. If you see someone biking (and they don’t look like they’re gonna beat your ass) badly, tell them “WTF dude?”

  • Call bad drivers “Maryland Driver”

Instead of cussing them out or pounding on their  car, just yelling “MARYLAND DRIVER” (no matter what their license plate, but chances are it’s MD) at them will make you feel better. Trust me, I’ve done this several times to much confusion.

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