Leisurely riding through the countryside on a Sunday afternoon is one thing, but trying to navigate your bike through a city centre during rush hour is quite another. Using a bicycle as your means of transport to and from work is a great idea. It boosts your fitness, and therefore your health, and it means you aren’t contributing to the mass emissions our cities now suffer with. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways of travelling through a city. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most dangerous ways to travel. So, here are a few tips for staying safe on your bike in the city.
Everyone’s an Idiot
When you want to stay safe in the city, you have to assume that everyone else is an idiot. Car doors will open as you’re speedily approaching, drivers will change direction without looking and pedestrians will walk on dedicated cycle lanes. As a cyclist you need to have your eyes everywhere and assume the worst at all times. Try to keep a good distance between your bike and cars, but if that isn’t possible, do your best to make yourself as visible as possible.
The Kerb Isn’t Your Friend
Sadly, many cyclists believe that staying close to the kerb while travelling will keep them from getting into a bike accident. The kerb won’t protect you from injury. Nearest to the kerb is often the most dirt and debris, which is no good for your bikes tyres. It’s also where there are a lot of pot holes in the road, and unsuspecting cyclists have hit them and come off their bikes. If you do end up in an accident because of a vehicle, it’s likely you’ll cause more damage by injuring pedestrians if you’re close to the kerb.
Never Box Yourself In
As a cyclist, it can be tempting to zip through stand still traffic because your small enough to get to the front of the queue quickly. However, boxing yourself in between vehicles that may not see you, like transit vans, is a bad idea. As soon as the traffic starts moving again, you’re in a very dangerous position because it’s unlikely the drivers will have noticed you. Always stay in dedicated cycle lanes, and if they’re not present, always stay within view of drivers wing mirrors.
Make Eye Contact
Just because you’re in driver’s views, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve seen you. When you want to avoid accidents with drivers, try and make eye contact in their mirrors so you can be sure you’ve been noticed. If you’re unable to get the attention of a driver, keep an eye on his vehicle’s wheels. The wheels can tell you a lot about which way a driver is headed. If it looks like the driver could put you in danger, you’ll know to keep your distance and avoid a crash.
Even in big cities there are purpose built roads where cyclists can travel safely without having to worry about drivers getting in their way. Stay safe!