Riding Etiquette

For our last lesson, we are going to teach our rider the rules of the road. We venture to guess that they will be riding around with their friends and family out in the real world, and by teaching them proper etiquette while they are still learning, they will be more likely to keep themselves, and others safe.

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  • Step 1: Describe the importance of signaling and the various methods. Practice using verbal signal commands while walking, riding, or traveling by car.

  • Step 2: Go for a ride around your neighborhood or on a bike path. Practice signaling, and all real world riding skills.


  • Your rider consistently uses verbal commands while riding in public.

  • Your rider can reliably demonstrate all real world riding skills and can help others practice safe riding by setting the example.

Signaling: Just like we signal when we drive a car, we want to teach our riders that signaling and communicating with those around us can help keep everyone safe. Signaling on a bike involves three types of communication:

  • Verbal signal: This is the most effective signal and the one we want to teach our rider first. Verbal signaling involves calling out how we plan to move. When verbally signaling, we need to ensure that we are calling out the signal loud enough for others to hear.

    • “Stopping!” and “slowing”

    • “Passing left”: to be used when passing other riders or pedestrians and should always be followed up by a “thank you!”

    • “Turning left/right”

    • “Rider up” or “rider back”: to be used when an oncoming rider is approaching from the front or the back. Also can be used with “walker” or “hiker” as well as “car” when your rider begins riding on the road.

  • Bell signal: Bike bells are a fun way for your rider to learn to signal and work as a good reward for learning to ride safely. Bells should always be paired with a verbal command. Teach your rider that bells can be used to warn other riders or pedestrians that they are approaching, then once they are close enough to use a verbal command, they should also signal verbally. This is particularly helpful for pedestrians who are walking dogs.

  • Hand signals: Hand signals are a more intermediate skill for riders who are proficient in riding and can comfortably take one hand of the handlebars. This is an important skill for when your rider begins riding on roads or where there is traffic and verbal signals aren’t effective.

    • Left Turn: Fully extend your left arm out to the side.

    • Right Turn: Fully extend your right arm out to the side or bend your left arm up at a right angle with your hand open.

    • Slowing or Stopping: Extend your left arm down at a right angle with your hand open.

Riding in the Real World: Beyond signaling, it is important that riders are versed in the rules of riding on paths, sidewalks, and the road. Before they start riding in the real world on their own, we suggest practicing in a controlled and safe setting like a school parking lot where there are sidewalks, parking areas, and crosswalks.

  • Ride on the right: teach your rider that whenever they are riding on a path (including sidewalk) or a road, that they should always ride on the right side. If they need to pass another rider or pedestrian, they can do so by scanning for oncoming traffic, signaling appropriately, then once safe, pass carefully on the left.

  • Walk across: We also want to remind our riders of the importance of when trying to cross a road, that they should stop, dismount, scan for traffic, and once safe walk their bike across, ideally on a sidewalk.

  • Driveways: It is likely that your rider will be riding on the sidewalk at times, particularly if they are young. Therefore, it’s important that they know to watch for cars backing out of driveways and to slow their roll as they approach a driveway to ensure it is safe before they proceed. We suggest teaching riders to slow down at all driveways and stop at blind driveways where the sidewalk might be difficult to see.