●Riders are supposed to stay to the right. Drivers are supposed to stay well clear of them. By law in Maryland and several other states, drivers must stay three feet from a cyclist. Don’t expect to see cops out there with a yard stick, but if you cause a crash, you could be charged with a three-foot violation.
10 things every cyclist should know about sharing the road with drivers:
●Don’t be a cowboy on a bike. If you’re an end-of-the-alphabet generation – maybe not X, but Y or Z — you might feel immortal and free to ride with the panache of a bike messenger. But inconsistent risk-taking as you zip through traffic puts more-mortal riders at peril, because it makes drivers jittery and annoyed whenever they see someone on two wheels.
●Music may be your life, it may be the grease with which you glide from day to day, but it also may be your death when those earbuds drown out that delivery van. No, listening to music with one ear and for traffic with the other is not acceptable.
●Don’t shoot up the gutter side when cars are stopped at a light. Most cyclists do it, but it’s dumb and dangerous. It also doesn’t save a whole bunch of time. If the light changes and traffic starts moving, the driver you’ve just pulled next to may be oblivious and cut you off with a turn.
●Don’t cut up between two rows of cars stopped at a light. You can end up in a heap of trouble if traffic suddenly starts rolling at 40 mph. The seconds you save aren’t worth the risk.
●Take the lane when you stop at a light or for a stop sign. Hugging the curb invites a car or truck to snug up against you, and that can be trouble when you both roll forward. The right hook — when a driver turns right and hits a cyclist who is going straight — is one of the most common crashes. Take charge of the right lane and pull off to the side after the light turns green.
● You won’t see anyone in the Tour de France wearing reflective gear or sporting flashing lights, but neither will you see too many people on the Tour course driving sport-utility vehicles while they talk on cellphones. Getting noticed is a critical survival skill.
●Signal your turns, and do it in plenty of time. Good drivers will cut you some slack, and at least the bad drivers will know where you’re heading.
●Stay off the sidewalk. It’s illegal in some places (such as downtown Washington), and it’s dangerous for you and pedestrians.
●If somebody shouts obscenities or seems like they’re trying to run you down, keep your cool. If you can, take a picture or a video. Then call the police and present your evidence. (But stop the bike before you pull out your cellphone camera, and don’t take photos if it’s likely to escalate a conflict.) Police say they get a lot of complaints about cyclists. When you have a genuine issue with a driver, get the license number and let police know about it.
●Wear a helmet. You’re foolish if you don’t, and brain damage won’t make you any smarter.
Ashley Halsey III covers transportation for The Post. A Level 2 professional cycling coach certified by USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, Ashley also is a licensed driver. His first car was a 1960 Volkswagen Beetle.