Nowadays city life can seem pretty numbing and boring at times. However, you can always leave your car at home and go for a bicycle. Just imagine exploring the streets on your favorite bike, while listening to your favorite tracks.
However, you can also get into the dark side because city cycling can be pretty scary, as well. This is why we’ve gathered some important information on how to cycle the city the safe way.
Think like a driver
Streets were not made only for cars, but for bicycles, as well. This goes to show that thinking like a car, so to speak, can greatly benefit you. In fact, you are indeed a driver, even though we’re talking about a bicycle rider.
This means that you should always keep in mind the same rules that apply for car drivers. Apart from signaling, turning, crossing, you should see yourself in an actual vehicle and thus, act on it.
Always be aware of your surroundings and think of yourself like steering an automobile. This may make a lot of sense, but when cycling, you are bound to lose some of your driving reflexes.
Keep in mind that unforeseeable things can always happen. A person might pop out in front of you, or maybe you should keep a bigger distance between you and the car in front of you. Such thoughts need to be considered always so that you have a great cycling experience.
Vehicles sometimes stop, and so should you
Be prepared and always keep an eye on your surroundings. You’re on a vehicle and so you need to not run the red lights and stop when you have to.
In other words, being a cyclist doesn’t give any privilege. You need to ride by the law, no matter what. There may be cases when you could go for the illegal, but don’t! Just be safe and ride your bike accordingly.
Law can sometimes allow cyclists some pretty fun advantages. For instance, Washington D. C.’s law lets you go with your bike between cars at a stop. This helps you go in front of the line so that you don’t have to remain in the middle of traffic.
While some see it as perfectly applicable, others are urging for its lack of sense. However, there are many states that are working on making this practice legal not just for cyclists, but for motorcyclists, as well.
In other situations, cyclists can go in front of cars at crosswalks. This is called the “leading pedestrian interval” and as a cyclist, you can turn first in an intersection, before any car enters the fold.
So now you might think that if the law has your back you should definitely go for it. But you should always act on such lawful privileges while being completely aware of the other drivers, as well.
Are there any gains for you, as you go in front? For example, while you could go in front of ten cars at a red light, if those cars will go free in a block or two, then you should just stay still.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to go right on the next street, then you should take you place and go in front.
Have courage, but be wise!
There is a place for everybody on this planet. The same goes for the city streets. Every vehicle can drive on them and your bicycle can, as well. Just take the lane and ride your bike wherever you need and how you need, as long as you obey the law.
Remember that you are part of the traffic, but your advantage is that you have a better visibility than any other driver. Keep your distance and ignore any jokes car drivers might do on you.
Staying as much as possible on the side of the road is something we’ve all learned while being young. These days, if a car sees that you’re on the side, it will consider that it can go freely past you.
Ride your bicycle on the middle or even better, on the left side of the lane. This is how you’ll impose yourself and you’ll be treated like an actual vehicle and other cars will pass by you with care. It’s like you’re signaling your presence for the other drivers on the road.
One important thing cyclists should always keep in mind is some obstacles that can come up on the bike lane. Debris, broken glass, sticks, sand, gravel, and even dead animals, can make you suddenly change direction. Therefore, take the lane, but be wise about it!
Always stay alert
There is too much emphasis on the fact that as long as you are on the bike lane, the other drivers will surely see you. Well, don’t have too much faith in this because the bike lane cannot always save you.
Take this scenario: you’re on your bicycle and suddenly a car door opens in front of you. What do you do?
Experts suggest that you can avoid any issue if you drive on the left side of the lane. This means that you should forget about the old lesson that the right side is best for you.
Another really important lesson for any bicycle lover is related to arrows. You know those ones painted on most bike lanes, right? Specialists say that any arrow should always pass you on the right. This can really help you in avoiding any possible accidents.
Prepare for the unexpected because a person or a dog can jaywalk. Riding on the left of those arrows gives you enough time to prevent any harmful situation. Not to mention delivery trucks or other vehicles that many times stop on the bike lane.
Predict the unpredictable
There are many reasons why a cyclist can get into an accident. However, specialists state that there are two main ones: confidence and under-confidence. Let’s talk first about those who are too confident.
There is a tendency among such overconfident cyclists and it is known as “salmoning”. This means that on a very heavy traffic they decide to ride on the opposite direction. This is exactly what salmons do, when they go up a stream.
As a matter of fact, salmoning is considered the worst in cycling. First of all, as specialists state, it is totally illegal. In fact, riding against the flow of traffic represents the number one cause for most of the crashes taking place.
However, when on a one-way street, contraflow lanes can help you go the opposite direction for a better traffic experience. Still, you should be extremely cautious even in these areas.
What happens with these opposing lanes is that in an intersection you may not be seen by other traffic participants.
Speaking of the unpredictable, those less-confident cyclists are the main characters. Such people usually choose to ride as much as they can on the sidewalks. There’s no harm in this, but always keep an eye on pedestrians.
Moreover, if that is where you feel more comfortable, just go for it! But don’t forget that you are still a traffic participant and you have your place on the street, along with the other vehicles.
It would be so much better for every type of vehicle to have its own lane. Moreover, it would be great if some cyclists wouldn’t feel obliged to ride on the sidewalks.
There are many cases where the infrastructure is not a friend. Municipalities sometimes ban riding on those pathways in certain central areas, but other times you have to ride on them. When doing so, just keep in mind several rules.
Never assume that cars see you because they don’t always do. Look out for them and stay safe.
Also, pedestrians are another challenge for you. Adjust your speed and be aware of their presence. You are, in fact, riding on their lane!
Always remember that you have a bigger speed than a pedestrian has. Also, note that some people might not observe you due to the parked cars on the sidewalks.
But challenges while riding on the sidewalks do not end here. Think of downtowns. Very crowded areas might make even sidewalks unbearable for less-confident cyclists.
As you ride on the sidewalk suddenly a vehicle pops in front of you, as it is getting out of a loading dock. Parking garages or driveways are common places where you might not be seen from. You’re not the center of attraction so blend in the traffic so that you can be observed in time.
Riding a bicycle is really invigorating and healthy, as well. It represents a great alternative to driving a car on the crowded streets of most urban areas nowadays. In order to have a comfortable and safe experience, any cyclist should consider some rules.
Always remember that you are not the king of streets, no matter how much experience you have.
Stay safe by keeping other participants in traffic safe. Don’t be a rebel and stay on the legal side of things.
Don’t wait to be seen, but make yourself visible. Take your place on the street and, as much as you can, drive on the center or left. This is how others will see you and consider you when making any changes in their direction.
And last, but not least: comfort goes for confidence and confidence means being safe…most of the time. It all boils down to being aware of your capabilities and act on them.
However, if you feel like trying something new, maybe the crowded city streets are not the best place to do so.
Always stay focuses and be alert because unpredictable things can always happen. Therefore, control your vehicle, which is your bicycle, and follow the rules.
My name is Anca- Gabriela and I’m an aspiring writer from Romania.
I love to write and I believe it’s the best way to leave behind a legacy. Also writing is like a therapy for me, helping me to put out there any thought wandering through my mind. I get my inspiration from books, movies, and good music.