Sunday, December 4, 2016

10 Tips for Urban Cycling

When it comes to riding a bicycle in an urban environment, it can be a huge challenge and overwhelming if you don’t have the tools and knowledge to get you to and from your destination safely.

The following are ten tips for urban cycling:

1. Always wear your helmet.

I really don’t feel like I should have to say this, but I see to many cyclists on the road without helmets. Just like motorcyclists, your helmet can be the difference between walking away from an accident, or lying in a persistent vegetative state. Helmets are not expensive, so there is no reason not to have one. You can purchase one at any bike shop. You can even get one from Target or Wal-Mart. Just make sure the one you get is rated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

2. Stay to the right of the road, going with the flow of traffic.

Staying with the flow of traffic establishes your space on the road. And, since in the United States, we drive on the right side of the road, go with the flow. Also, this makes you more visible to overcoming traffic.

3. Give yourself about 3 feet of space between you and the curb.

When there is no bike lane, establishing 3 feet of space between you and curb gives you enough room to react to drivers and to keep you from being pinned to the curb. When there are parked cars, be sure to give yourself a few feet from the parked cars in case someone opens a door without seeing you.

4. Always signal your turns.

Just as you would signal a turn in your vehicle (if you own one), it is just as important and safety-minded to signal your turns while on your bicycle. Pedestrians and vehicles need to know when you are turning and changing lanes.

5. Assume drivers do not see you.

Never assume a driver can see you and your bicycle. Sometimes drivers are distracted by things going on in their vehicles. Sometimes drivers are distracted by making a right turn on red and they are looking for other cars, not bikes. For reasons like this, be aware of your surroundings and be extra vigilant when you proceed through an intersection.

6. Obey all traffic laws.

Too many cyclists do not obey basic traffic laws. This is one of the reasons car drivers are very hostile to cyclists. You must also stop at stop signs, yield, and follow traffic signals. Failure to do so could cause an accident and you can still get a ticket.

7. Make your bike look ugly.

This tip is purely to help prevent theft. Thieves love to steal things that are easy to steal and that look good so that the goods can be resold. But if your bike looks older, has stickers all over it, or looks like you bought it at a garage sale, it is less attractive to a thief. If your bike is brand new, I would go the sticker route. For example, stickers from bananas, bike companies, bands you like, etc.

8. Use a combination cable and U-lock.

You can get a combination cable and U-lock for your bike at any sporting goods or bike shop. By using both, you potentially double your lock security. Cables can be cut and U-locks can be picked. But a thief who has to go through both will be less likely to steal your bike. After all, thieves like it when things are easy. You will also want to make sure your cable and U-lock pass through both wheels and the bike frame (especially if you have a newer bike where both of these wheels are removable).

9. Don’t ride in weather you’re not equipped for.

There are lots of accessories you can add to your bike: different inner tubes, fenders, etc, that can help keep you riding safely and comfortably in bad weather. If you choose to ride in conditions such as rain, cold, or extreme heat, be sure that you and the bike are equipped for the conditions. Otherwise, leave the bike at home.

10. Know the bicycle and vehicle laws.

If you also drive then you are pretty familiar with the vehicle laws of your state. But how many of you know the bicycle laws for your state. If you search the Internet, these laws can usually be found with your state’s highway administration. Sometimes your local police officers do not know these laws, so this will help you in the case of a legal dispute in the event you must go to court over a ticket or accident.

There is no reason to ride unsafely in an urban environment. Regardless of the existence of bike lanes and increased awareness of cyclists on the road, it is up to the cyclist to adhere to the rules of the road, be safe, and show others that cyclists and cars can co-exist on the roads.

Sources:, Choosing a Bike Helment, Bicycle Commuter Checklist, Riding Your Bike in Traffic

League of American Bicyclists

One Less Car

Labels: 10 Tips for Urban Cycling

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