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When you ride your bike on a campus sidewalk, you must to yield to pedestrians. Some off-campus sidewalk areas with heavy pedestrian traffic are signed prohibiting riding bicycles on the sidewalk.

When you ride on the road, your bike is a vehicle and you must obey traffic laws.
  • Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use helmet-mounted or bike-mounted rear-view mirrors. Always look back before changing lanes or changing positions within your lane, and only move when no other vehicle is in your way.

  • Go slowly on sidewalks and bike paths. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. Give pedestrians audible (horn/bell/word) warning when you pass. Don't cross driveways or intersections without slowing to walker's pace and looking very carefully for traffic, especially traffic turning right.

  • When on the road, ride in a straight line whenever possible. Ride with, not against, the traffic. Keep to the right, but stay about a car-door-width away from parked cars.

  • Avoid road hazards. Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel and ice. Cross railroad tracks and speed bumps carefully at right angles. Norman has a number of designated "bike routes" which are signed and marked for bike traffic. Use these routes whenever possible.

  • Choose the best way to turn left. There are two ways to make a left turn:
    1. Like an auto, look, signal, move into the left lane, and turn left.
    2. Like a pedestrian, ride straight to the far-side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. By law, cyclists must obey traffic laws when bicycles are ridden on streets in Norman and roads within the State of Oklahoma.

  • Ride a properly equipped bike.
    1. Always use a strong headlight and taillight at night and when visibility is poor. (By law, in Oklahoma, to ride at night you must have a light-emitting headlight visible for at least 500 feet and a red reflector visible for 50 to 300 feet from the rear. Most states have similar laws.)
    2. Be sure your bike is adjusted to fit you properly.
    3. For safety and efficiency, outfit it with a horn/bell, rear-view mirror(s), fenders (for rainy rides), and racks, baskets or bike bags.


Rule 1: Be Predictable
Ride so drivers can see you and predict your movements.
  1. Obey traffic signs and signals. Bicycles must obey traffic laws like other vehicles.
  2. Never ride against traffic. Motorists aren't looking for bicyclists riding on the left side of the road. Ride on the right, with the traffic.
  3. Use hand signals when initiating a turn. Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy and of self-protection.
  4. Ride in a straight line. Whenever possible, ride in a straight line, to the right of traffic but about a car-door-width away from parked cars.
  5. Don't weave between parked cars. Don't ride over to the curb between parked cars, unless they are far apart. Motorists may not see you when you move back into traffic.
  6. Ride in middle of lane in slow traffic. Get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections and whenever you are moving at the same speed as traffic. (Remember, your bike IS a vehicle when on the road and you ARE allowed to operate it in the middle of the traffic lane, not just at the right edge, when traffic is slow. You're also responsible for signalling and stopping at stop signs and traffic lights like other vehicles.)
  7. Follow lane markings. Don't turn left from the right lane. Don't go straight in a lane marked right-turn-only.
  8. Choose the best way to turn left. Remember: There are two ways to make a left turn. 1) Like an auto. Signal, move into the left lane and turn left. 2) Like a pedestrian.
  9. Don't pass on the right. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
  10. Go slow on shared paths. Yield to pedestrians. Give pedestrians audible warning when you pass. Do not ride on sidewalks where prohibited.
  11. When biking with others, ride in line when other traffic is present.

Rule 2: Be Alert
Ride defensively and expect the unexpected.
  1. Watch for cars pulling out. Make eye contact with drivers. Assume they don't see you until you are sure they do.
  2. Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
  3. Avoid road hazards. Watch for sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily spots, gravel, ice. Cross railroad tracks carefully at right angles.
  4. Keep both hands ready to brake. You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain.
  5. Watch for chasing dogs. Ignore them, or try a firm, loud, "NO." If you can't get away, dismount with your bike between you and the dog. Don't try to kick the dog. Call Animal Control.

Rule 3: Be Equipped
You'll ride more easily and safely.
  1. Keep the bike in good repair. Adjust your bike to fit you, and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly.
  2. Use lights at night or when visibility is poor. The law requires a strong headlight and rear reflector or tail light at night.
  3. Dress appropriately. In rain, wear a poncho or a parka made of fabric that "breathes". Generally dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Avoid loose clothing. Purchase a "strap" at a local bike store to control your right pantleg to avoid catching in in the chain.
  4. Use a pack or rack to carry things. Saddlebags, racks, baskets, and backpacks are all good ways to carry packages, freeing your hands for safe riding.
  5. Always wear an ANSI or Snell approved helmet. This reduces the potential for head injury by 85%.
Bicycles have the right to use Oklahoma roads, however, use of Interstate highways by bicycles is discouraged. Bicyclists Must:
  • Obey traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets and other basic traffic laws.

    A bicyclist has the same rights and duties on the road as drivers of other vehicles, and some additional responsibilities.
  • Ride as far "as practicable" to the right (or to the outside lanes on a one-way street), particularly when automobile traffic is moving faster than you are.
  • Be prepared to yield at all times.
  • Use hand signals when turning or moving from a lane.
  • Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Give audible warning when overtaking a pedestrian.
  • Keep at least one hand on handlebars. Keep control of the bicycle at all times.
  • Use a headlight with a white light visible from at least 500 feet ahead, and a red reflector visible from at least 50 to 300 feet behind, when riding from sunset to sunrise or whenever visibility is poor.
  • Keep brakes adjusted so that, when braked, your bicycle skids on clean dry pavement.
  • Ride astride a fixed seat (kiddie seat and tandems acceptable). Riding "double" is discouraged.
  • Ride no more than two abreast.

If you have questions regarding bicycle safety and security contact the OUPD Crime Prevention Unit at 325-2864, or send e-mail to
Crime Prevention.


Here are some other bike safety and security pages on our website:

Bike Security
Bike U-Lock Security Tips
Bicycle Registration
Bicycle Norman
Police Bike Patrol

"Winter Riding"
    (an article from the Oklahoma Bicycle Society)
Oklahoma's Bike Safety Program
    (Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bike safety links...

    NHTSA "Bike Safety Program" home page

    NHTSA "Pedestrian Safety Program" home page

    Bicycle Safety Education Resource Center
    (Federal Highway Administration)

    Kids and Bicycle Safety

    Bicycle Safety Tips for Adults (Video)

    Law Enforcement's Roll Call Video:
    "Enforcing Law for Bicyclists"

and... "How to Not Get Hit by Cars" from BicycleSafe.com.

Portions of this text on bike safety were obtained from the University of Wyoming Police Department website in 1997.

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