Stopping and Starting Your Bike in Traffic

Before riding your bike on city streets, for everyone’s safety, you should feel competent operating your bike, e.g. you should be able to start, ride in a straight line, turn, and stop. If you’re not comfortable with this, email me at and I will arrange some assistance for you. Even assuming basic competence, there are a few key things to know about stopping and starting while in traffic. Watch the video and follow the steps below when stopping for a red light and starting when the light turns green.


Stopping in Traffic:

1) SCAN BACKWARDS: When you intend to stop, scan backwards. This alerts you to your surroundings and also informs others that you are about to change your behavior.

2) SIGNAL: Take one hand off of your handlebars and point your palm backwards

3) CHANGE GEARS IF NECESSARY: Adjust your gears so that you can start easily from a stop.

4) BRAKE EASY: Apply your brakes smoothly and easily to allow traffic behind you to adjust.


Starting in Traffic:

1) FOOT PLACEMENT: While stopped, rest one foot on the ground and place the other foot in an upright (2 o’clock) position on your crank (see also image below and 1:15 of video).

2) USE YOUR WEIGHT: When starting (e.g. when the light turns green), take your foot off the ground and put your weight on the upright pedal. This allows you to use your weight to get a quick start.

3) LANE POSITIONING: Once moving, establish yourself in the part of the lane you intend to use and ride straight and predictably.