Frequently used terms

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The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials


The American Association of State Highway Transportation Official’s (AASHTOGuide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities is a primary resource for creating and designing bicycle facilities in the U.S.


Box Turn

box turn illustrationA 2-step left turn in which the bicyclist proceeds straight through the intersection (on a green light), then turns 90° to the left, facing the intersection and proceeds straight across with the next green light.


Control & Release

A savvy cycling practice in which the bicycle driver balances courtesy with safety by controlling his or her lane, but moving aside or pulling over, when it is safe and reasonable to do so, to release traffic that is unable to pass for a significant time.

Control Mythology

The web of stories, symbols and ideas which define the dominant culture’s sense of normal (including limiting our imagination of social change) and make people think the system is unchangeable. Learn more.

Coping Behavior

Behavior adopted in an effort to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict. Coping behavior typically fails to solve the underlying cause of the problem.


Door Zone

The space beside a car that is within striking distance of its door—typically 4ft from the car. The hazard zone of a line of parked cars should be considered to be at least 5ft. A bicyclist should ride far enough away to avoid being struck, but also to avoid being startled into swerving.


Being struck by a car door opened into a bicyclist’s path. This is a potentially-fatal type of crash because the bicyclist is often thrown into the adjacent lane of traffic. This crash can be avoided by staying out of the door zone.


First Come, First Served

The fundamental rule of the road. Operators of vehicles, including cyclists, are entitled to their place on the road, with reasonable clearance behind and to each side, and reasonable stopping distance in front of them. Drivers must yield before moving into space occupied by vehicles that are there first. This rule not only assigns priority at intersections, it means that a driver of a faster vehicle does not have any preemptive rights over the driver of a slower vehicle ahead.


Far to the Right law: bicyclist-specific law requiring bicyclists to ride as close to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practicable. Most versions contain explicit exceptions (examples of what would not be practicable).

These laws are confusing and discriminatory. For discussion see: A Law Like No Other.

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