Avoid busy roads
“The most direct route is not always the safest route,” says Steve Taylor, communications manager of the League of American Bicyclists in Philadelphia. It might be worth going out of your way to take a bike path or a road with a dedicated bike lane—your ride will be more enjoyable, too.
Ride in a straight line, avoid sudden changes in direction, and look before turning or merging.
The best way to make sure cars know where you’re going is to tell them. To signal turns, simply point in the direction you plan to go. If you’re slowing down, an open hand on your back, palm out, signals braking.
They cross driveways, where cars are often backing out blind. The exception: If it is designated as a legal bike trail, go for it.
Ride on the right-hand side of the road—but not too far to the right
When there is no clear bike lane or shoulder, ride in the rightmost traffic lane. Stay one to two feet left of the white line that designates the edge of the road. This will keep you far enough into the roadlane that you don’t have to swerve into traffic to avoid obstacles like parked cars. It also forces drivers to pass you conservatively—if you’re in the gutter, cars may be tempted to try to squeeze past instead of waiting for a break in opposing traffic.
Obey traffic signals—and use them to your advantage
Like a car, follow traffic lights and stop at stop signs. You can also use traffic signals to your advantage—for example, if you need to make a lefthand turn on a busy street. While you can legally merge through traffic and use the left turn lane, it may not be practical or safe to do so. In those cases, use the box turn: Stay to the right as you go through intersection, signal that you’re going to slow, and join the rightmost lane of the cross-traffic that was waiting at the light. Go when it’s green. (Click here for a visual)
Look for eye contact
Even if you signal, a driver may not see you. Most collisions in urban areas happen at intersections, says Taylor. “If you’re at an intersection and you can’t make eye contact, assume they’re not paying attention. Let them do their thing and then go.”