Bike Safety Tips

Cycling in the Annapolis area can be very rewarding, but it's important to know the basics of city riding for the safety of yourself and other road users.

By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles – but bicycles are less visible, quieter, and don’t have a protective barrier around them. Motorists should drive carefully around a bicyclist; even a slight mistake can result in death. Bicyclists fare best when they act like and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

Bicycles are part of traffic

  • Check for oncoming traffic before entering any street or intersection
  • Ride on the right, with the flow of traffic.
  • Use the lane furthest to the right that heads in the direction that you are traveling.
  • Ride in the right third of the right-most lane that goes in the direction you are going
  • Take the lane if there is insufficient road width for cyclists and cars to share, less than 12 feet (many lanes in Annapolis are less than this).

Follow traffic laws

  • Obey traffic control devices: stop signs, stop lights, lane markings
  • Use hand signals to let pedestrians, other cyclists and motor vehicle drivers know your intention to stop or turn
  • Anticipate hazards and adjust your position in traffic accordingly
  • Ride in a straight line – not in and out of parked cars on the side of the street/road

Ride safely

  • Ride far enough away from parked cars to avoid hitting an opened door. Don’t ride in the door zone (3-Ft from door)!
  • Ride far enough away from the curb or edge of the roadway to avoid hazards and debris
  • Check, signal and move into the adjacent lane if there are hazards in a bike lane
  • Take the lane before intersections and turns to assert your position on the roadway
  • Take the lane if traveling the same speed as other traffic or if hazards narrow the usable width.

Bike Lanes and Paths


  • Yield to slower users, especially children
  • Obey posted speed limits for the safety of all users.
  • Get off the path when you stop.

Announce when passing

  • Clearly indicate your intention to pass other users
  • Warn other trail users in advance so you do not startle them
  • Use a bell, horn, or say “On your left” or “Passing on your left” when passing

Yield when entering and crossing

  • Slow down before intersections and when entering a trail from the road

Keep right

  • Stay as close to the right as possible, except when passing.
  • Give yourself enough room to maneuver around any hazards.

Pass on left

  • Scan ahead and behind before announcing your intention to pass
  • Allow plenty of room, about two bike lengths, before moving back to the right
  • Do not pass when visibility ahead is limited

Be predictable

  • Travel in a straight line, except to avoid hazards or to pass.
  • Always indicate your intention to turn or pass.

Be visible

  • Wear brightly colored clothing
  • Make eye contact with motorists to let them know you are there (but don’t always expect them to see you)
  • Always ride in or near a travel lane
  • Stay visible by riding where drivers are looking, i.e., do not pass on the right

At night - Conspicuity

  • Legally, cyclists must have a front white light and a red rear reflector and/or a rear red light
  • A bright red [blinking] light is much more conspicuous than a passive reflector
  • Make sure that your lights are visible to motorists, and not pointing up or down
  • Clear obstructions from the back of the bike that might block the light

Tips for drivers

  • Leave at least three feet of passing space between the right side of your vehicle and a bicyclist.
  • Reduce your speed when passing a cyclist, especially if the roadway is narrow.
  • Children on bicycles are often unpredictable in their actions. Expect the unexpected.
  • Further information can be found at the Maryland State Highway Administration safety website “Choose Safety For Life”

Report a problem

Notice something amiss in the bicycling environment? Have you seen storm drain grates parallel to a bicycle tire direction of travel, a pot hole in a bike path, or other bicycle-related problem in Annapolis? Report It!