Metro DC is a great place to explore by bike. Whether you’re an experienced rider or new to cycling, these are the bike laws to follow and some riding tips to help you be more comfortable and confident.
Plan a Comfortable Route
From bike-friendly roads to car-free paths, choose a route that suits your comfort level. See bike facilities and find the best route to get where you need to go with the System Map.
Do a Pre-Ride Check
Before you start a ride: adjust the seat to a comfortable height, squeeze the brakes to make sure there’s resistance and check the tires to make sure they’re not flat. If there’s a problem with the bike, just dock it and hit the red “wrench” button, then choose a different bike.
Capital Bikeshare encourages all riders to wear helmets while riding. Make sure your helmet fits snugly, wear it level on your head and always buckle the chin strap. Save 10% on a helmet at participating retailers.
You have the same rights and responsibilities on the road whether you are on a bike or in a motor vehicle. Obey all traffic lights and signs.
Ride With Traffic
Bicyclists are required by law to ride in the same direction as cars. If there is no usable bike lane, ride as far to the right as practicable, staying at least 3-4 feet from the curb or parked cars.
Go Slow on Sidewalks
Riders must yield to pedestrians at all times when choosing to ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalk riding is prohibited in the Downtown DC, on King Street in Old Town Alexandria and within the memorials on the National Mall.
Yield to Pedestrians
Like drivers, bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians when the law requires it, such as at crosswalks and intersections. If you have the light, use your bell to alert pedestrians of your presence when necessary.
Use Hand Signals
Bicyclists should use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where they’re going. Stick your left arm out to your side to indicate a left turn. For a right turn, extend your right arm out to your side, or raise your left arm and bend it upward at the elbow. To stop, hold your left hand by your side pointing toward the ground.
Never Ride Distracted
Pull over if you want to send a text message or talk on the phone. Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Being aware and riding predictably reduces the chance of a crash.
Want to Learn More About Safe Riding?
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) offers free classes to teach cycling and safety skills for riders of all abilities.