...are essential before you go riding in traffic. Find somewhere nearby where you can ride without worrying about other vehicles so you can master the essentials – parks, trails, and quiet parking lots or super quiet streets are ideal:
Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere that's pancake flat, being able to use your gears effectively will help you get from A to B without too much huffing and puffing. Before you start mixing it with traffic, get to know your bike's gears and what works best for your legs: try climbing, descending, and cruising on a flat section. Are you a spinner or a slow turner? Everyone has his or her ideal rhythm (or cadence) so take the time to find out what suits you.
Wearing a helmet is not required for adults in the US, but is recommended. While helmets can seem a little cumbersome or uncool, they help protect your head in case of the unlikely event of an accident. When putting yours on, make sure it fits properly. It should sit horizontally on your head and shouldn't move about. Two fingers should fit tightly between your chin and the strap.
Ride at least 3 feet away from parked cars. This way you'll avoid any unexpected door openings!
Avoid riding in red 'door zone'!