Friday is Bike to Work Day, an annual event encouraging commuters to ditch their cars and ride a bicycle to work.
Whether you’re hopping on a bike or getting behind the wheel, everybody should use extra caution when heading out on Friday. The region’s roads and sidewalks will be clogged with thousands of bicycle riders, and many of them aren’t used to riding a bike during a busy rush hour.
Drivers should watch for bicycle riders, particularly when turning or switching lanes. Cyclists need to be careful to obey traffic laws; a recurring gripe from drivers is that bicycle riders zoom through stop signs and red lights, making it difficult for drivers to know what to anticipate on the roads.
There will be 58 designated pit stops across the region offering refreshments. You can see a full map of pit stops here. Registered attendees will also get free T-shirts and enter into a raffle, though make sure you’re registered with your particular pit stop.
As part of the free event, many cyclists will assemble in convoys that will be led by experienced guides. Most of the convoys are heading to Freedon Plaza in downtown Washington.
Dr. Gridlock gave cyclists some tips about sharing the road in his Commuter Page column on Sunday, advising bicycle riders to obey traffic laws, watch for pedestrians and be particularly careful about cars turning right.
This column — and the general topic of cyclists and drivers sharing the road — was the subject of much debate in Dr. Gridlock’s weekly chat on Monday. (There was also a similar discussion happening at the same time on Twitter.)
AAA Mid-Atlantic expects more than 10,000 bicycle riders to hit the roads of the District, northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. AAA offers some tips for bicycle riders and drivers so they can safely coexist on Friday (and on any other day):
• Try not to honk your car horn at a bicycle rider. You could startle them and cause them to swerve.
• Check your mirrors and blind spots before turning, changing lanes or opening your car door.
• Be particularly careful when you’re around children on bikes, because you really never know what a child will do.
Helmets are strongly recommended, though they aren’t required for participants. (Helmets are legally required for riders age 15 and younger in Washington, for age 14 and younger in Arlington and Alexandria and for riders younger than 18 in Montgomery County.)
If you are participating in Bike to Work Day, we want to hear from you. Share your photos here. Tweet what you see with the hashtag #BikeWP. (If you’re posting a photo to Instagram, you can also share it with the hashtag #BikeWP.)