A bicyclist amid traffic on 14th N.W. in Washington. (Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

Whether on streets, bike trails or separated cycle tracks, bicyclists should follow some common-sense rules. These guidelines will make your two-wheeled journeys safer, and maybe even reduce levels of rancor among cyclists, motorists and walkers.

● Obey signals, signs and lane markings. Yes, that includes stop signs. The same traffic laws apply to motorists and bicyclists in all local jurisdictions.

● When bicycling, predictability is a virtue. Ride in a straight line and use hand signals when turning and stopping. Don’t swerve or make unexpected turns, even when drivers around you do.

● Wear a helmet, no matter how sweaty and matted it makes your hair. Studies have found that they reduce the risk of head and brain injury up to 88 percent.

● Ride on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic, not toward it. Pass everyone on the left.

● Keep enough distance from the curb to avoid potholes, debris and grates, as well as urban cyclists’ great nemesis: the car door that suddenly swings into your path.

● Stay alert and anticipate potential hazards. Listening to music while biking is not a great idea; using a cellphone is an even worse one.

● Make eye contact with motorists and pedestrians who are heading your way, or look as if they might.

● Except when signaling, keep both hands on the handlebars. Be ready to brake at all times.

● Don’t be a ghost rider at night, at dusk or in fog and rain. Use a white front light, a red rear light and reflectors, and wear light or bright clothing. Reflective vests or jackets significantly boost visibility.

● Bicycling on sidewalks is legal in some areas, but pedestrians always have priority. Don’t block, startle or intimidate them.