|It's right there, between your shoulders and your helmet|
The most important cycling upgrade of all is available to anyone. It is free of charge. It doesn't require any special ability, experience, or even a great deal of preparation. Everyone who rides a bicycle already has at least one. All that is required to upgrade is to actually use it actively.
Now, this may seem obvious to many, yet, every day I see clear evidence that, either by conscious decision, or lack of awareness (and I hope for all of us the majority is the latter rather than the former), this natural resource for cyclists is seriously underused.
I've tried to boil it down to a few starter ideas to plant the seeds that might blossom in fertile ground into happy, permanent brain trees which take fuller advantage of this resource we already possess. I see so many violators of one or more of these almost every day that I feel compelled to print them on little cards, chase people down and hand them out. Or something.
1. See other users of the road as people, and act toward them as you would wish them to act toward you, no matter what your immediate perception of them. Your initial perception may be wrong, but the simple moral imperative to treat others as you wish to be treated never will be wrong.
2. Ride in the same direction as traffic and not against it.3. Be aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to respond gracefully to the unexpected.
4. Obey the traffic laws.
5. Research the cycling techniques appropriate to your environment, and practice them.
6. Ride predictably and signal your intentions clearly with ample advanced warning.
7. Have fun.
As guidelines, reality may require that any of them be bent or adjusted from time to time. I'm not putting them forward as hard and fast statements of necessity. I'm saying, it would be a better cycling world if more cyclists would make that free upgrade and give these a thought or two when they ride. Because, while obviously none of us follows all of them 100% of the time, too many of us do none of them all of the time, and that's actually bad for everyone. I see a lot of upgrade potential out there every day. You! Stop running that red light, it's time to upgrade! You! Stop riding against traffic, it's time to upgrade! The rest of you! Have a great weekend! Get up. Go ride.