Bicycle Culture

5 Rules of Bike-Share Etiquette

How to use a bike-share program respectfully.
How to use a bike-share program respectfully. Courtesy of ofo
We’ve given you a breakdown of the few bike-share programs operating in metro Phoenix. Now you know where these rentable bikes are, how they work, how you pay, and so on. However, as with anything, etiquette is – or should be – involved.

Here are a few helpful tips on using bike-share programs across town. We’re not trying to be your mom. We just don't want you to look like a dick. Here we go:

1. Don’t toss it into the grass, into a bush, up a tree, into water, etc.
Like, seriously. It looks terrible, and it’s pretty much littering. Who are these people? Need an example? Check out the litterbikesofaz Instagram – a “what not to do” guide of participating in the personal mobility revolution.

"We’re regularly educating users with tips and best practices for proper parking via our app and through direct communication," say Eric Smith of ofo.


click to enlarge Just don't block the sidewalk – simple. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Just don't block the sidewalk – simple.
Lauren Cusimano
2. Don’t abandon the bike in the middle of the sidewalk.
Sure, some other rider can come up, rent that bike, and zoom away – but more often than not, the company is coming to pick up that bike when they can get to it.

“The most obvious faux pas in the bike-share world is not locking the bike to a rack, and leave it blocking a sidewalk or some other public right of way,” says Jeff Titone, regional manager for Grid Bike Share. Eric Smith from ofo echoes this. “We hope riders not only benefit from our affordable, convenient new way to get around, but also respect the platform and community we’re building,” he says, Whether it’s parking out of right of ways, off of private property, vandalism or unsafe behavior, we hope riders respect the platform and are courteous to their community and others.”

3. Don’t block the bike rack with self-locking bikes.
This may not be very obvious. Some bike-share rigs lock themselves when inactivated – meaning they don’t function as bikes when there isn’t money on them and are called dockless or station-free bikesharing. Therefore, there isn’t a need to take up what may be a valuable spot at the bike rack.

A fellow rider, or someone using a program like Grid that utilizes U-locks, may need to lock up to that spot. Just consider placing your self-locking bike adjacent to the bike rack. Confirms Euwyn Poon, co-founder and President of Spin, "You can leave it anywhere, but we urge our users to park the bikes responsibly so they’re not in the way of other cyclists, pedestrians or vehicles."


click to enlarge Ride with traffic – you're on a vehicle. - COURTESY OF SPIN
Ride with traffic – you're on a vehicle.
Courtesy of Spin
4. As always, the rules of the road must still obeyed.
Guys, a bicycle is technically a vehicle. Therefore, you do have to ride responsibly and lawfully. Since it may have been a while since you’ve taken a bike-safety course, if at all, there are a few things to immediately keep in mind.

Learn hand signals – left, right, stop – in order to navigate traffic. Next, don’t be a “salmon,” meaning be sure to ride with traffic and use the bike lanes when available. Last, be super careful on sidewalks if you must use them. Cars often drive right up to the edge of the street, blocking the sidewalk and acting as a straight wall for cyclists.

click to enlarge You should definitely still wear a helmet. - COURTESY OF OFO
You should definitely still wear a helmet.
Courtesy of ofo
5. Helmets are still encouraged.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, “Helmets are not required by law statewide, [but] most bicycle advocacy organizations and clubs agree bicyclists should wear helmets at all times.” That means, no, helmets are not required by law in the Valley, but their use is heavily encouraged. One spill or close call with a car, and you’ll be thanking us.

Besides, helmets can be cool, and there are a number of bike shops in town willing to sell you this righteous piece of gear – the perfect accessory for all those stickers you’ve been saving. Just clip it to your backpack when not in use – don’t be a baby.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.