Have you eve been chatting with another cyclist and hear them talk about how someone was salmoning up the street? Or maybe a disgruntled bicycling commuter who hates when people are shoaling? Or how about your friend who advises you to take the contraflow lane on G Street to get over to 10th and H Street NE? Any of this sound a little like Sanskrit to you?
Well this blog post is for you! Below is a breakdown of some common terms you’ve probably heard out in the bicycling world.
Let’s start with the easiest.
Bike lane– A bike lane is a striped area on the roadway usually with a bike painted on it showing that is a lane designated for bicycles. It is illegal for drivers to park in bike lanes (though that doesn’t stop some). If a bike lane is next to parked cars, be careful to stay out of the door zone (see below).
Door zone– The door zone is the area where you are riding and a driver can swing open a door and possibly hurt you. To be safe ride as close to the outside white line as possible to avoid being hit by a vehicles door.
Sharrow– A sharrow is a shared lane marking which indicates where a bicycle may be in the road and also alerts drivers that bicyclists will be sharing the road with them.
Protected bike lane or cycletrack- A protected bike lane is sort of like a sidewalk for bikes. The lanes are separated from the car traffic via a barrier, usually either a curb or plastic posts. Thevprotected bike lane in the photo at left is a bi-directional lane— it’s designed so that bikes can go in both directions in the protected space. Protected bike lanes can also be one way.
Contraflow lane– A contraflow lane is a bike lane that goes against the flow of the surrounding traffic. Great examples are G and I Streets in Northeast DC, which offer a lower stress alternative to riding on the busy H Street NE.
Salmoning– Salmoning is riding your bike against the direction of traffic, either in a bike lane or a general travel lane. We don’t recommend it.
Shoaling- Shoaling is riding up to the front of the line when other bikes are waiting at a light. It’s considered bad bike etiquette. If you do need to pass another bicyclist, wait until you are moving.
Now when someone tells you to take G Street NE, but says you won’t have to salmon because there’s a contraflow lane, you’ll know what they’re talking about.
Women & Bicycles is proudly supported by The Potomac Pedalers Touring Club; hosts of the region’s most robust all-level group ride calendar and bike tailgates, Chipotle our delicious dinner party sponsors, and we’re supported by all our friends who donated through the Hains Point 100 ride.