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Riding Tips

Riding a bicycle in the Bay Area has never been better. Whether you’re an experienced rider or new to city cycling, a few simple steps will make you feel more comfortable and confident riding in urban and suburban environments.

Follow the Rules

When using Bay Area Bike Share, Members must:

  • Ride with traffic
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Obey traffic signals & signs
  • Walk bicycles on sidewalks

You must be at least 18 years old to use the Bay Area Bike Share system. In California, you are not legally required to wear a helmet over the age of 18, but Bay Area Bike Share encourages you to do so. Cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.

Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where they’re going. When available, bicycle riders can use marked bicycle lanes or paths.

Read more about Bicycle Laws, and the California State Bicycle Rules of the Road.

Plan a Sensible Route

The Bay Area's streets and parks offer a wide variety of bicycle lanes and paths, from shared traffic lanes to car-free greenways. Choosing a route that suits your skill and comfort levels can improve your experience on two wheels.

There are many ways to plot a route that makes sense for you:

CycleFinder App - Download the free app for Android and iOS for real-time station information.

Bay Area Bike Share Station Map - Click on Station Map above to find stations across the region. Make sure you know which station you’re heading to before you begin your ride.

Google Maps Bicycling Directions - New to the area or to cycling? The tool can help you to find established bicycle paths and lanes and navigate around hills. Google Maps Bicycle Directions will offer routes with the highest proportion of bicycle lanes, rather than the most direct way to go.

Bike San Francisco Bikeway Network Map: available from the SFMTA.

San Francisco Bike Map & Walking Guide

Do a Pre-Ride Check

Bay Area Bike Share system bicycles are routinely inspected to ensure they are in good condition and working properly. Members should always do a pre-ride bicycle check to make sure the bicycle is ready and safe to ride.

Check the following before you ride:

Seat Height - The bicycle seat is easily adjustable. Just release the clamp on the side of the seat post, raise or lower the seat to your preferred height and re-tighten the clamp. Make sure the clamp is tight and the seat can’t twist or sink. Typically a seat is at the right height when you can almost fully straighten your legs when pedaling.

Air - Push each tire hard against a curb or the ground. If you can flatten it, it needs air.

Wheel Spin - Lift each wheel up and give it a slow spin (spin the back wheel forward so the pedals don’t move). Check that the wheel spins freely and doesn't rub against anything.

Tires - Turn each wheel slowly and look for cuts, bulges or bubbles in the tire.

Brakes - Squeeze both brake levers to check that brakes are functional and feel strong.

If a bicycle isn't working properly, lock it back into any station dock, press the wrench button on the dock to alert Bay Area Bike Share that the bicycle is in need of repair, and check out a different bicycle.

Be Predictable

  • Don't weave in and out of traffic.
  • Use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where you're going.

  • Ride about four feet away from parked cars, avoiding "the door zone."

  • Exercise caution around Muni and other rail tracks. When crossing the tracks, always ride perpendicular.

  • Don't ride distracted. It is illegal to ride with headphones on. Never use your cellphone to text and ride.

  • Use the bell to alert drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence.

Use marked bicycle lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane.

Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the Bay Area region, even when no designated route exists.

It is okay to walk a bicycle on the sidewalk, but illegal to ride on sidewalks.

Bring a Helmet

While it’s not required by law for adults aged 18 and over, Bay Area Bike Share encourages you to wear a helmet when you ride. Wearing a helmet can dramatically reduce the risk of head injury in the event of a crash while bicycling.

Your helmet will look, and function best if it’s adjusted properly.
1. Wear it level on your head, about two finger-widths above your eyebrows.
2. Your helmet should fit snugly on your head and not rock side-to-side. Use the foam pads that came with the helmet or the internal adjustor to fine-tune.
3. Always buckle the chin strap and make sure the straps are snug. Only about two fingers should fit beneath the chin strap.
4. Replace your helmet after any crash or whenever you see signs of damage.

Need a helmet? Check out two ways to get one!