SMART Cycling = SAFE Cycling

Smart cycling is about you and your fellow participants' safety. We want you to learn how to ride with 200 people by your side just like you ride with the one person you know like yourself. 

We will be riding through every kind of terrain and weather condition Minnesota has to offer.  To ensure that this experience continues to be amazing you will need to be vigilante and deliberately conscious of your surroundings and some of the perils that come with riding a bicycle. Safety starts with each us taking responsibility not only for ourselves but for our fellow cyclists.

The state of Minnesota has rules and regulations that we by law must ALWAYS adhere to.

State Law:

  • A bicycle is considered a vehicle with the same privileges and restrictions as a car.
  • You must obey all traffic laws, traffic signals and stop signs.
  • You must ride with the traffic -- NOT against it.
  • You must use hand signals to indicate your intentions.

State Required Hand and Verbal Signals

Since bikes are not equipped with brake or turn lights you must use your arms and hands to indicate your intentions:

Hand Signals

  Left arm straight out to the left (shown above) indicates left turn.

 Left arm at right angle with hand pointing up (shown above) indicates a right turn.

 Left arm at a right angle with the hand pointing down (shown above) indicates slowing and stopping.

The 3 signals above are required by law. WE go the extra mile in safety signals by using our hands and vocal chords to do the following:

  • Point out road obstacles i.e. rocks, gravel, broken glass, drainage grates, and pot holes.
  • Using your right arm to point, and then call out, car right when you see an automobile exiting from a driveway or intersection.
  • Always use your arms as pointers and your voice to draw attention to any impending obstacles.

The following Call Out signals are mandatory for all cyclists. Never think that someone else is loud enough for the cyclist in front of you to hear them, always add your voice and "pay it forward or backward" -- depending on the situation at hand. For example, when coming to a stop with 20 fellow cyclists, ALL 20 cyclists should be calling out, Stopping! This keeps everyone alert and being alert is "smart cycling".

  • "Car back" -- used when you hear a car approaching from your rear. When you hear a fellow cyclist saying "Car back" you must also say it so the cyclist in front of you can hear it, and on up the line.
  • "Car up" -- used when riding on a narrow roadway and you have a car approaching you.
  • "On Your Left" -- used EVERY TIME you pass another cyclist. Always check behind you before passing and call out your intention BEFORE you are alongside the cyclist you are overtaking. NEVER pass another cyclist when a car is approaching from behind you. If you are being passed by another cyclist please move as far right as is SAFELY possible. You must pass in single file, never in tandem or more -- this is very unsafe as you will be crowding into the oncoming traffic lane.
  • "Door" -- used when riding along parked cars. Watch all cars that are parked and if you see someone in the driver's seat call out "Door" to signal to the cyclists behind you that a car door could open at anytime.
  • "Tracks" -- used when approaching railroad tracks. Always cross railroad tracks at a 90-degree angle to avoid getting your tires trapped in the tracks.
  • "Slowing" -- used when slowing to make a stop or beginning to pull off the road to stop.
  • "Stopping" -- used after you call out slowing and are ready to come to a full stop. If you are stopping to rest or stretch or even, god forbid, change a flat, it is crucial that you pull completely off the bicycle lane of traffic.
  • "Clear" -- used when passing through an intersection that has NO stop signs on any corner. This is potentially a very dangerous situation. So slow before you proceed and look both ways before calling out "Clear."
  • "Turning" -- used when making any type of turn and always in conjunction with the appropriate arm turn signal.
  • "Merging" -- used when you have been stopped and are getting ready to rejoin the bike lane of traffic.

Policies and Regulations for the Ride

On the Red Ribbon Ride we cannot stress enough that our first priority is your safety.  We cannot do this ride without you, and we are deeply committed to making this event as safe as we possibly can.  Many hours have been, and will be, spent planning for and ensuring your safety on this ride.  It is however, also imperative that you recognize that there is a great responsibility on you, as a rider, to be accountable for your own behaviors. We are all in this together, and we must all ensure we act both responsibly and in accordance with Ride regulations and State and Local laws.  Compliance with ride regulations, state and traffic laws are not an option; they are requirements that are intended to save lives. 


Below are policies and regulations which will be in place and enforced on the ride.  Review them.  Memorize them.  Use them.


         State law decrees that a bicycle is a vehicle with the same privileges and restrictions as any other vehicle.  Embracing these rules might one day save your life.

         Always wear a helmet and carry a patch kit, tire levers, spare tube and pump.  Failure to wear a helmet while on your bike participating in the ride will result in expulsion from the event.

         Know and obey all traffic signals, signs, markings, laws and regulations.  Stop at all stop signs.  Signal all turns.  Cross only at intersections.

         Stay alert at all times.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Ride in a straight line, and consciously try to avoid excessive weaving back and forth.  In most vehicle-bicycle accidents, motorists say they never saw the bicyclists, or didn't see them in time to avoid the collision.  In a vehicle-bicycle accident, the bicycle will likely lose.

         Always use hand signals to indicate that you are going to make a right or left turn or are about to stop; motorists and cyclists need to know what you intend to do.  If your hands aren't free as you slow or stop, call out "SLOWING" or "STOPPING".  When stopping, pull to the right edge of the road.  Move completely off the road to rest or make repairs.

         Cycle with traffic, never against it.  When moving from one lane to another, always yield to traffic.

         Keep to the right of the road at all times and leave other riders plenty of room to pass on your left.  If you don't, you could force another cyclist into oncoming traffic, creating a serious accident.  The exception to this rule occurs when preparing for a left turn or avoiding unsafe road conditions (potholes, construction, etc.).

         Always pass on the left.  When doing so, call out, "ON YOUR LEFT!" loud enough so the other rider can hear you.   Also, don't stop or slow down without first signaling your intentions to other cyclists and/or drivers. Call out, "STOPPING!" or SLOWING!".

         Always stop and look left, right, then left again before entering the road.

         Always make left turns from the appropriate left-turn lane.

         Ride single file when cycling with a group.  Do not ride side by side.  Passing cyclists will be forced into traffic, creating a serious hazard.  Remember that we need to share the road with cars!

         Be alert to hazards such as glass, sand, loose gravel, potholes, open cracks, dogs, etc.  It's not only courteous, but also essential that you keep an eye out for these and point them out to cyclists behind you.  (Simply point to the object in the road as you pass by.  The rider behind you will know there is something to be aware of.)  If you can, call out "GLASS", "GRAVEL", or anything else as appropriate.

         Always be on the lookout for a person in the driver's seat of any parked car you may pass.  Parked drivers are notorious for swinging their doors open suddenly or pulling out into traffic without checking for bicyclists.

         Drafting, which can cause pile-ups, is not permitted on the event or training rides.

         Always cross railroad tracks at a right angle.

         Make certain your bike fits you properly and is in good working order.  If you're not sure, have your local bike shop conduct a bike fitting for you.

         Wear bright clothing while riding, even during the day.

         Use extra caution when riding in the rain.  Roads become slick as thin sheets of oil, gas and grease form on the surface.  Allow for increased breaking distance.  Also, road paint and fallen leaves become extra slippery during rains.  Slow down, especially when going down hills.  Vision and visibility drop drastically when skies are dark and sodden.  Cars won't be able to see you as well.  Be awake and aware.

         Be especially vigilant when cycling downhill.  It's not the time to take a hand off your handlebars to grab a drink or fiddle with your bike.  Increased speeds mean you'll need increased stability and watchfulness for hazards on the road.

         Wear sunglasses whenever possible.  Not only do they keep the sun from distracting you, but the also keep wind and bugs from interfering with your ability to keep your eyes on the road.  


Stay Alert Stay Alive



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