Cycling in the city can be a scary and challenging thing when you are first getting started. Once you get the hang of it though, it is a fun way to save money, get where you are going and stay in shape. Here’s a look at how to tackle the safety challenges of urban cycling, so you can ride without fear.
How to Stay Safe Cycling in the City
- Surviving traffic jams: If you are used to having plenty of free space to ride in, it might be scary the first time you encounter a traffic jam. Traffic congestion presents unique safety challenges. You are more likely to get hit by a car door while you are passing, for example. Understand that you don’t have to sit in traffic like a car would. You can usually avoid traffic by riding along the side of the road or in a bike lane. Go slowly and keep your hands on the brakes, in case you need to make a sudden stop. Watch out for any parking areas or turns that cars might take. Don’t rely on drivers to see you, since that can be difficult on a congested street.
- Knowing where to ride: To avoid cars, you might be tempted to ride on the sidewalk, but you should resist that temptation. It can be a safety problem. Sidewalks are often too narrow to give you the space you need to avoid obstacles. Additionally, it can be difficult for cars to see you if they are turning through, since there are often trees and other obstructions between the sidewalk and the road. Cycling on the sidewalk also creates dangers for pedestrians, who might not see you coming.
- Being a good ambassador: There are still mixed attitudes about cyclists on the road. It’s unfair, but many people judge the sport based on how they see one rider behave. That’s why it’s crucial that you are respectful of motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. The law says that cyclists on the road should for the most part be treated like any other vehicle. If you don’t honor this responsibility by obeying the traffic laws, you’re being a bad ambassador for riders everywhere.
Getting around your city by bike is a great way to save money and get in shape, but it’s important to understand that not all roads are very cycling friendly. Learning how to stay safe on busy city streets will help you enjoy the benefits without getting hurt.
Joshua Bonnici is a San Diego bicycle accident lawyer and cycling enthusiast. He is passionate about improving bicycle safety and fighting on behalf of his fellow riders.