These days, it’s not uncommon to see cyclists sharing the same roads with cars, buses, motorbikes and other types of vehicles. The number of people using bicycles as a form of transport has increased in recent years, especially in crowded urban areas where traffic can be a nightmare and hopping on a bike can make it easier to navigate busy city streets.
But people are choosing bicycles over other transportation methods not only because they can get from point A to point B faster but also because it’s a lot cheaper than driving a car, it can boost mental and physical health, it’s a fun and satisfying activity that gives one a sense of accomplishment, and it benefits the environment on top of it all.
As you can see, there are many advantages to driving less and cycling more. But despite all these perks, cycling in the city can also be quite daunting. As a cyclist, you are more prone to sustaining serious injuries in a traffic accident than other road users. That’s because cyclists are more vulnerable given the lack of external protection, and they’re obviously outnumbered by cars and other vehicles. In other words, city roads weren’t exactly designed with cycling in mind, even though bicycle lanes have become a common sight in all major cities.
If you got injured in a road accident that wasn’t your fault while cycling, you may be able to claim compensation to cover the damages you’ve suffered, be it physical, emotional or material, and recover from the incident. However, receiving compensation does not diminish the trauma of being involved in an accident, nor does it make you eager to get back in the saddle.
The best way to encourage people to overcome their fears and peddle more is by making roads safer for cyclists. However, since you can’t change the entire infrastructure of a city to accommodate the needs of a minority of road users, the only thing left to be done is for people to learn how to cycle safely in the concrete jungle, and that’s exactly what this article is about.
Improve your bike handling skills
The first thing you need to do if you want to become an urban cyclist is to learn how to ride a bike properly. The main reason why people fear getting on a bike in the middle of a bustling city is that they are not confident enough in their cycling skills, and that makes perfect sense. You’re obviously not going to feel at ease on the road with vehicles moving faster than you and approaching you from all sides if you can barely hold your balance while you’re pedalling.
So, making sure you’re ready to handle a bike under any circumstances is a must. This doesn’t mean you have to reach a pro level and train as if you’re going to participate in the Tour de France. But you do need to improve your bike handling skills so you can become more comfortable and confident while on the road. Taking cycling lessons or practising whenever you get the chance in less crowded areas is the only way you’ll be able to become better at it. This will help you react more promptly in case you encounter a hazard while cycling and enjoy smoother and safer rides.
Learn (and follow) the rules of the road
Becoming a skilled cyclist may give you the confidence you need to take your bike out on city lanes, but you also need to keep in mind that there are rules everyone has to follow while they’re using public roads, and cyclists make no exception.
As a cyclist, you are required to know all the traffic rules and regulations and abide by them at all times. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you don’t know exactly what you should do because you didn’t bother to study The Highway Code. You may be lucky enough to get away with a traffic offense, but being a daredevil on two wheels and riding in a dangerous and careless manner can have dramatic consequences for you and other road users. So instead of putting yourself and others at risk, you should know traffic laws inside-out and practice caution every time you go out on the road.
Wear adequate equipment
You don’t need to wear full cycling equipment if you want to ride your bike in the city, but there are a few essential accessories that can make a huge difference in terms of safety and that you should definitely invest in. The most obvious piece of safety gear for cyclists and the one that matters the most is obviously the helmet. Choose a good-fitted helmet that is suited for the cycling activities you plan to do and offers adequate protection. Gloves, protective glasses and reflective clothing are also necessary items for city cycling.
When it comes to bike gear, you should make sure your ride is fitted with reflectors and lights so you can make yourself visible while on the road. In addition, you should also carry a bike kit with you in case your tires get punctured or you experience any other issue with your bike.
Beware of blind spots
When riding a bike on busy city streets you should always assume that other traffic participants, especially larger vehicles, don’t see you. Even if you wear reflective equipment and you have your lights on, you are not as visible as you might believe. That’s why you should never ride in the blind spot of a car, refrain from trying to overtake large vehicles and do your best to maintain a safe distance from other road users, including cars that are parked on the side of the road. As always, caution is the best policy and playing it safe is the best way to keep hazards at bay.