Tips for Cycling in a Busy City
Cycling is one of the best ways that you can get from point A to point B. It has many advantages, including that it keeps you fit and healthy, it costs a small fraction of what it costs to drive a car, and is much more environmentally friendly.
However, if you live in a large city and cycle on urban streets, your daily commute can be slightly dangerous. When you are cycling right next to so many cars, there is a risk that you can be involved in an accident that can cause serious injury or even death. This is why it is extremely important to take care when riding your bike on city streets.
If you will be riding a bicycle in a busy city environment, here are some helpful tips to keep you safe:
- Always wear a helmet. Riding on city streets means maintaining a high speed, and if you fall off your bike at that speed and hit your head on the pavement, it is game over. A helmet can save your life.
- Never listen to music on your headphones while you are riding your bike in the city. You will need to have all of your attention focused on the many things that are happening around you, such as car horns honking, sirens wailing, pedestrian crossings, and traffic.
- Most people who drive in cars are simply not aware of how to watch out for cyclists on the road, and many cars will have large blind spots which make it very hard to see a bike beside them. When you are on a bike, unfortunately you must assume that motorists do not see you and ride accordingly. Keep your distance from vehicles just in case they are not aware of you.
- Keep your bike tuned up all the time. Flat tires, faulty gears, or malfunctioning brakes can cause you to crash and go flying. This is not fun of course, but it can be a very dangerous disaster if this happens when you are in between several lanes of traffic.
- Obey the rules of the road. Just because you are on a bike it doesn’t mean that you can ignore street signs. Don’t cross red lights, go the wrong way down one way streets, or try to beat the system, as you are only putting yourself in danger.
- If you are riding at night time or even in the dawn or dusk, get a headlight for your bike and wear reflective gear.
- A common type of cycling accident in the city is when you are riding past a row of parked cars and a driver opens his door into traffic. You run straight into the door because you could not stop in time. To avoid this, ride further away from the parked cars and closer to the main flow of traffic. This might be intimidating to ride so far out into the lane, but you are most likely to get hurt from running into the door on a parked car than by a driver behind you who can clearly see you.
- Avoid the busiest streets. Try to plan a route which side-steps rush hour and takes smaller streets with fewer cars, even if it takes you a few minutes longer.
- Always signal. If motorists are aware of which direction you are turning, it makes it easier for them to accommodate you and avoid hitting you.
Have fun cycling in the city, and be safe!
Sara Senger is an avid cyclist and writer, and contributes to blogs such as Amateur Gastronomy.