Smart Cycling is Safe Cycling

Smart cycling is about all about your safety and the safety of your fellow riders. We want you to learn how to ride with over 2000 people just as well as you would with only one other person.

To ensure a consistently safe experience for everyone, it is vitally important that all ride participants be vigilant and deliberately conscious of their surroundings and some of the possible perils that can threaten the safety of each individual as well as the event itself. Safety starts with each of us taking personal responsibility for not only our own behavior on the road, but watching out for our fellow Cyclists’ safety as well.

Cycling by its very nature is an individual sport. Yes, there are cycling clubs and racing teams, but for most of us, riding our bike is something we do on our own, or at most, with a friend by our side.

Remember when you rode for the first time with one other person? Remember how you had to get used to them slowing down or even stopping in front of you without any notice? Or when they decided to pass you at the same time you decided to turn left to avoid something on the road? Remember the words exchanged, like, "hey, watch where you're going"? It took time for the two of you to get used to each other's individual riding styles and learn how to communicate your intentions. Now when you ride together, you probably think like one person.

This scenario provides a base for you to understand Smart Cycling. AIDS/LifeCycle is an event that attracts every age, degree of athleticism, and riding styles. We love the diversity and we love the passion of the people who choose to do our event. Our goal for each of you is to enjoy your ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a safe and injury-free manner.

Smart cycling is about you and your fellow participants' safety. We want you to learn how to ride with over 2000 people by your side just like you ride with the one person you know like yourself. We divide Smart cycling into three categories: Street Smarts, Mental Smarts and Learned Smarts.

You must be aware of your surroundings at all times and alert to all possible risks. In June, you will be riding with hundreds of people in front of you and behind you. You will also be riding alongside motor vehicles. While those vehicles might make you nervous, the sight of all these cyclists will also make drivers nervous and at times, tense. 

Given the presence of possibly nervous or inattentive drivers, it is crucial that you stay alert and ride smart, predictably, and deliberately. Be prepared to stop at any moment.  Keep in mind that each of your actions will dictate how the Cyclist behind you or the automobile beside you reacts.

Mental Smarts is not only about handling yourself and your bike in a safe manner and riding defensively. It’s also about how we interact and care of each other’s safety and well being.

The state of California requires cyclists to follow all rules and regulations as outlined in the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines.  These are NOT recommendations; they are laws and ALL cyclists participating in official AIDS/LifeCycle Training Rides are required to obey all laws and adhere to all AIDS/LifeCycle safety policies. In most cases, cyclists are bound by the same laws as the motor vehicles we share the road with.  There are a few exceptions, and your Training Ride Leader will cover important safety information during the mandatory safety speech before each training ride, so be sure to listen carefully.  If you are coming to AIDS/LifeCycle from another state, be sure to check with your local DOT to learn more about cycling-related laws in your state. 

Each year, we must obtain permits from the many jurisdictions, towns, cities, and counties in California that the AIDS/LifeCycle route passes through. Each year, the residents of each local jurisdiction watch us pass through their towns with a mixture of curiosity and scrutiny. Because of this, it is absolutely vital that all AIDS/LifeCycle participants follow the vehicle code and practice good cycling etiquette. Bad behavior not only reflects negatively on the individual cyclist, it also puts our ability to obtain these permits at risk, jeopardizing the entire event. All AIDS/LifeCycle participants should get into the habit of obeying all traffic laws before coming on the event so that safe cycling habits are instinctive by the time you ride out with 2000 other riders!

The law requires:

• That a bicycle be considered a vehicle with the same privileges and restrictions as a car.
• That cyclists obey all traffic laws, traffic signals and stop signs.
• That cyclists ride with the traffic—NOT against it.
• That cyclists use hand signals to indicate their intentions.

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

Left turn signal Left arm straight out to the left indicates left turn.

Right turn signal Left arm at right angle with hand pointing up indicates a right turn.

Stop signal Left arm at a right angle with the hand pointing down indicates slowing and stopping.

The three signals above are required by law. AIDS/LifeCycle participants go the extra mile by using hand signals and vocal chords to indicate our intentions. This is known as "Calling it out."

Learned Smarts is just what you would expect it to be. It's taking a subject that we either know little or nothing about and then learning and practicing until we become proficient. The goal is to make our actions on the event as intuitive as possible. To accomplish this, we must learn new lessons and practice, practice, practice!

Utilize our Training Ride Leaders by asking them any questions you have about training for the event. Our organized group rides will allow you to practice the necessary skills needed for riding while surrounded by hundreds of cyclists. 

Take advantage of all the offered training resources! Attend our various meetings and training workshops! What you learn at nutrition workshops or stretching seminars (injury prevention!) can be put to immediate use next time you go out on a training ride. Don’t just go out and ride your bike, go out and ride your bike and learn how it works with your body. Don’t be afraid to ask questions--it’s the only way you’ll gain Learned Smarts.