Good cycling practices

Focus on June 2020 TransportCityRoad safety

By Florence Boillot, researcher, and Pierre Vinant, engineer in the field of road traffic and mobility, GRETTIA Laboratory - COSYS Department

Despite the benefits of cycling in terms of efficiency, health and preservation of the environment, many urban residents are still reluctant to cycle in town due to, for example,  anxiety about this mode of transport and ignorance about appropriate behaviour. In 2018, the Government launched a "Bicycle and active mobility plan" with the aim of tripling the modal share of cycling in daily mobility, from 3% to 9%, by 2024.


To support this approach and make cycling less stressful and safer, scientists from Université Gustave Eiffel, following on from a research project1 carried out in partnership with the “Federation Française des Usagers de la Bicyclette” (FUB), have drawn up a compendium of best practices : les indispensables de la conduite à vélo en ville2. Its aim is to help the cyclists of today and tomorrow better understand their environment and adopt behaviours that are suited to the situations they will commonly encounter on the road.

The fundamental principle of safe and stress-free cycling is the mutual anticipation of users. Cyclists must anticipate the behaviour of other road users so they are not caught off guard and forced to perform an avoidance manoeuvre under adverse conditions. As other road users share the same need, cyclists must make their behaviour easier to anticipate by being as predictable as possible.


Here are two examples to illustrate these two facets of mutual anticipation:


Anticipate the behaviour of other road users

A pedestrian is about to step out from between two cars parked on a road carrying two-way cycle traffic and one-way motorised traffic and has not seen the cyclist riding in the opposite direction from the rest of the traffic. How can the cyclist avoid a conflict with the pedestrian?


The cyclist should:

  • pay attention to the surroundings and notice the pedestrian walking towards the roadway.
  • interpret the scene and understand that the pedestrian may cross without having noticed him.
  • adapt to the situation by moving away from the parked vehicles and warn the pedestrian either with his voice or his bell.

These three principles of cycling make it possible to anticipate the actions of other users.



Make it easier for other road users anticipate him behaviour

A cyclist who is followed by a car is about to negotiate an intersection. What should the cyclist do to show the motorist he is going straight ahead so if the car overtakes it and turns right it will not cut in front of the bicycle?


The cyclist should:

  • plan what he is going to do by deciding which direction he is going to take before he reach the intersection.
  • make sure he is visible (light-coloured clothing, reflective vest, lights) and attract the driver's attention by looking backwards before the intersection.
  • be predictable by taking a position to the right of the centre of the road or on the left side of the cycle lane so the driver does not expect him to turn right.

These three principles can help others anticipate the cyclist's trajectory.



Other principles and common situations are described in this compendium of good practices. Aimed at a wide audience and extensively illustrated, it will help every cyclist adopt the right behaviour to make cycling in town less stressful and safer. This educational material is in line with the ministerial recommendation to encourage cycling when exiting lockdown.




1 Partners in the “Nouveaux cyclistes urbains” (new urban cyclists) project: a team from the Grettia laboratory, and the LaPEA laboratory at Université Gustave Eiffel and the FUB.  With funding from the Région Ile de France.

2  "The essentials of urban cycling" (Compendium in French language) 

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