Summer Safety Series: Safe Biking

It’s been a beautiful summer thus far for biking in and around Burlington and a top priority for us is keeping bikers and pedestrians safe. Here are a few safety tips and “rules of the road” to keep in mind whether you are traveling on the streets or on the Burlington bike path.


Yield to people walking

People on foot have the right of way at all times, all bikers and other means of transportation should always use caution when in close vicinity to pedestrians. We know the bike path can get a bit crowded at some parts, even with the new renovations, so thank you for your patience and caution around pedestrians taking a stroll on the Greenway.

Ride single file

Sharing is caring and the best way to share the space with pedestrians and car traffic is to keep single file! If you need to pass just make sure it’s safe first. It’s just as if you were a car on a one lane road, you should only cross the center line to pass when you know it’s safe. Saying “passing on your left” and ringing your bell, if you have one, are best practices. This lets the people ahead of you know what you are doing because pedestrians and most bikes don’t have rear-view mirrors.

Keep to the right

Riding in the bike lane (if there is one) is your best bet, but if there isn’t a bike lane, ride as far to the right as is safe.  Look behind you to make sure the coast is clear before you move left to avoid gravel, parked cars, or other hazards, or to make a left turn.  Whether you are in a bike lane or sharing the lane with cars, always bike in the same direction as traffic.  Biking on most sidewalks is legal, but proceed with caution if you choose to do so, as you may be less visible to turning cars.  Also, be sure to ride slowly and yield to people walking if you ride on the sidewalk.

Obey traffic signs

Bikers must obey traffic lights and signs such as stop signs, yields, and pedestrian crossings. This keeps everyone safe and on the same page when it comes to understanding right of way. And remember to pay attention to road signs such a One Way and Speed Bumps too!

Know your turn signals

The use of turn signals are always advised but are extremely important when you are on the road traveling alongside motor vehicles.

  • Right turn: right arm extended out OR left arm extended upward at a “right” angle
  • Left turn: left arm extended out
  • Braking or stopping: left arm at 90 degrees pointing down







Not only will following these rules keep you safe, you’ll be a good neighbor as you use this summer’s detour route. You’ll also be following city ordinances! Yes, there’s actually city (and state rules) that apply to riding your bike. Here’s some of the important ones:

6-1: General bicycle regulation.

(b)    Obedience to traffic regulations. Every person riding a bicycle upon the streets, alleys and highways within the city shall observe and comply with all signals, signs and ordinances regulating the operation of traffic not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter.

6-3: Riding on sidewalks, bicycle and pedestrian pathways and in parks.

(b)    Persons riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk or bicycle and pedestrian pathway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.

(c)    Persons riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk or bicycle and pedestrian pathway shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian or another bicycle.

6-4: Riding on bicycles.

(b)    No person may use a bicycle to carry more persons at any one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.

6-7: Riding abreast.

No person shall ride or propel a bicycle in traffic abreast of any other person riding a bicycle, except for the purpose of passing.

6-8: Signals required for turns and stops.

It shall be unlawful to turn a bicycle to the right or left upon a highway, or to stop a bicycle upon a highway without first signaling as required by state law.

6-11: Lights required.

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle on any way within the limits of the city during the period from one-half (1/2) hour after sunset to one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise unless said bicycle or bicyclist shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front, with a lamp on the rear of the bicycle or bicyclist which emits a flashing or steady red light visible at least three hundred (300) feet to the rear, and with a red reflector on the rear.

6-16: Securing bicycles.

It shall be unlawful for any person to lock or otherwise secure a bicycle to a tree or other natural plant or vegetation located within a city right of way or on city property. Bicycles found in violation of this section shall be immediately impounded and disposed of pursuant to section 6-17(c).