Biking Safely around UNC

Gaby Behailu, a Healthy Heels communication intern, shows off Tar Heel Bikes in SASB Plaza.
Gaby Behailu, a Healthy Heels communication intern, shows off Tar Heel Bikes in SASB Plaza.

Bike riding is a fun and healthy way to travel during the pandemic. With capacity restrictions on busses and more students using off-campus housing, bike riding will help you move around the community. Safer bike commuting is possible!


If you haven’t biked in a while, start in your driveway, on a greenway or a calm side street. Practice skills – signaling (riding one handed), checking over your shoulder, stopping quickly and standing up to pedal.

Check your bike.

Clean the chain, put air in the tires, make sure the breaks are working properly – or take it for a tune up at a local bike shop. Find a more experienced bike rider and join them on a trip around town. Let them lead the way so you can focus on comfort.

Plan ahead.

Seek local maps of bike lanes or paths. Plan a route with as much time in bike lanes or traffic calmed roads.

Stay aware.

Stay aware of other cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles around you. Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, shoulder check before turning, and mind the turn signals of cars in front of you as you approach intersections. Remember, vehicles have blind spots.

Use alerts.

When you pass on the left, use a bell or “passing on the left” to alert other cyclists and pedestrians that you are about to pass them. Bike in a predictable manner and use signals to let folks know what you’re going to do. A bent left elbow, fingers raised skywards, means turning right, while pointing your arm straight out to the left indicates a lefthand turn. Pointing your fingers down with a bent left elbow signals that you plan to stop.

Follow the rules of the road.

Bike in the direction of traffic and obey traffic lights. Avoid biking on sidewalks unless you are moving at the speed of pedestrians (as in biking up a big hill or biking very slowly).

Make yourself visible.

Use bike lights and reflectors. Consider wearing bright colors.

Wear a helmet.

The riding conditions of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham mean you will often be near traffic as you come to and from campus and other errands. Protect your brain!

Use your resources.

Local organizations can help make your biking easier.

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