The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Pledge for Bicyclists and Motorists

As a bicyclist, I:
  • Will ride predictably and follow the rules of the road.
  • Won't block your way without reason. I will ride to the right when it is safe for me to do so. I'll use a bike lane or shoulder if it is contiguous, free of parked cars, copious pot holes, gravel or debris or other obstacles. I may choose to not use these areas if the above conditions apply. I may choose to occupy an entire lane of travel if I feel it is necessary.
  • Determine for myself what is safe and what is not safe. I may be able to see things that you may not. I may have different tolerances for different situations than you do. I know the limitations of my equipment and physiology better than you do.
  • Will use lights and reflectors - lots of them. I want you to see me.
  • Will be respectful of pedestrians.
As a motorist, I:
  • Will drive predictably and follow the rules of the road.
  • Won't harass other road users. If they are going more slowly than I would like to go, I will wait until it is safe to pass and then I will do so. Even if annoyed, I will not tailgate, honk, yell, flash lights etc. I will not pass recklessly. I will wait until I can see far enough and until I have enough space to go all of the way around you. I will not attempt to pass you at all if your speed is reasonable for the conditions - regardless of the speed limit.
  • Won't take your turn at a 4 way intersection, just because I think I can accelerate faster than you. I won't wave you on when it isn't your turn.
  • Will be respectful of pedestrians.
  • Will remember that some road users are more vulnerable than I am and that I should exercise extra caution around them. I will not be upset at them for existing, nor will I call for their banishment from "my" roads for simply because I do not wish to be inconvenienced or to have to be properly careful.
Used with permission from "What does it mean to 'Share the Road.'"


  1. Nice post, Katie. One quibble with bicyclists promising not to "block your way without reason" without a comparable promise from car drivers. Riding around downtown Seattle I occasionally see bicyclists blocking traffic. On the other hand I always see cars blocking traffic. Cars waiting to make turns. Cars trying to squeeze into a parking place. Cars double parked for pickups or deliveries. If you see a lane blocked, there's typically a car at the front of it. They block cars and they block bicyclists. Pretty much all of traffic congestion is caused by cars. So drivers should reflect on what they bring to the situation.

  2. Rich,

    Good point. I had completely forgotten how many times cars block the way, even though a couple days ago I twice had to yield to cars backing down my lane. If we started thinking of all the things motorists do that are onerous that we'd want them (us) to promise not to do, that'd be a heck of a list!

    I think it's mentioned specifically under the bicyclist section because motorists perceive bicyclists as blocking the way more, even if the reality is quite the opposite. The bicyclists' pledge acknowledges and addresses common motorist complaints, almost regardless of how actually problematic those complaints are. It's more just saying "I know this bothers you, and I'm promising not to do this just to inconvenience you."

  3. Although said in many many more words, I have always liked this "open letter" from a while back: