Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Fail: Things NOT to Do on Bikes

As a follow-up to need-to-knows, I’ve seen some pretty epic bad behavior on bikes lately. I don’t know if these are novices driven to bikes due to gas prices, people who are confident in their immortality, or just plain dumb people, who exist in cars, on feet, and on bikes.

Here are some suggestions, though:

  1. Shut up and ride. Using your cell phone while riding is not a good plan. If you must take a call, please pull off the road, get off your bike, and take it. Even if you’re slow, the external noise while you’re riding can’t be good for the conversation, and having two hands on the bars/brakes? Bueno. Just trust me on that.
  2. Smoking a cigarette while riding. O, how wrong this is. Beyond the bueno factor mentioned above (both hands on the bars, plz), smoking is bad. You’re combining something somewhat healthy with something really drastically not healthy. I know quitting is hard. Really, I do. But use your time on bike to be a time when you aren’t inviting death by lung cancer. It’s a start, anyway, and let me assure you: lung cancer is a bad, bad way to die. (Of course, if you need both hands on the bars and lack it, you won’t live long enough to find out.)
  3. Use appropriate routes. The streets you might use in a car are not always good plans on bicycles. US10, for instance, magically turns into interstate. Yes, I did in fact see someone on a bike either learning this, or knowing this and being super-duper dumb.

  4. Riding against traffic. Ok, this is not only illegal, but it puts you at high risk. Physics will tell you that if you’re going WITH traffic and get rear-ended, the total force of collision is lower than if two vehicles head-on each other. POW. It will hurt. Also, I believe I mentioned the illegal? Yeah.

Also, as a public service announcement, I would like to urge people to check their seat height. The number of people I have seen with their seats too low, both recently and non-recently… yow. When your seat is too low, you work harder than you need to work to go the same speed. Raise the seat and either save energy, or go faster. If you can’t get full leg extension without knee lock, your seat is too low or your bike is too small. The seat can be fixed for free.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.


  1. The other day I saw a dude smoking the bigges cigar I’ve ever seen while riding his bike.

  2. The trouble with smoking on the bike is that your cigarette burns down so darn quickly! Those things are expensive, too! Don’t even get me started on trying to keep pipes lit.