Do you ride your bike to go to work or school, for nipping to the supermarket or even for fun on the evenings and weekends? 

In a busy city, cycling is often the best mode of transportation, and even if you’re the most experienced cyclist you need to be careful. Riding a bike can leave you vulnerable, especially if you’re not aware of the highway code, and the area you’re cycling in. Things can get complicated if you are riding on busy roads.

Streets often have poor lighting, careless drivers, and hurrying cars, or sometimes the weather can make it harder to cycle properly. In the meantime, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to cycle or to be constantly stressful when riding, thus stopping enjoying the ride. 

You just have to take the necessary steps! After all, the basic conditions for enjoying cycling are comfort and safety, riht?

Cycling in the city is one of the most enjoyable and convenient means of transportation. With very low cost and countless benefits, it can become your best friend! And as long as you get to know a few tricks - the easier, the better! 

If you want to start cycling in your daily routine, you need to know how to behave on the road and how to protect yourself properly. Below you will find all the necessary tips, so that you can enjoy from now on the most comfortable and safe cycling routes!

Man on a bike

Image Credit: Vintagelee: / Pixabay

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

We all know that when driving or cycling there are accidents that are just unnecessary; that can easily be avoided. So the first secret is to always be in defence mode. You should concentrate on riding and avoid anything that may distract you, including: 

  • phone calls
  • loud music
  • even observing the view as you go. 

Let your cell phone ring! Stop riding with your GPS in your hand and don’t change your music in Spotify every second! In order to be in control of your movement, you need to look straight ahead and watch out for oncoming road obstacles

span>A great tip is to learn how to look over your shoulder while maintaining your straight position. By regularly looking behind you, not only you are avoiding accidents, but you gain confidence in maintaining your pace and being calm while riding, which most of the time plays a crucial role in stressful situations. 

In this way, you can: 

  • control your movement
  • start to be aware of what is behind you
  • and adjust your speed and course on time, when needed 

Cycling in the city can also be full of potholes and drains that you need to look for to not have to swerve to avoid them.

Plan Your Trip Ahead

For a lot of cyclists that feel like they know the area they are cycling in, or cycling is a part of their daily routine, it might sound pointless. But it’s one of the most important tips for safety while riding: planning your trip! 5 minutes the night before your trip, you can write down possible pathways, quiet streets and even canal towpaths.

It’s very important to know the path you’ll follow, so that you know what you need to be responsive to. For example, if your itinerary shows that your destined path crosses with road works, you’ll have to be prepared for dirt, mud, or road narrows, or else choose another more favourable route.

By checking your destination path, you can choose roads with light traffic or less busy ones, with proper lighting or even check the general safety of the area. Especially at rush hour, planning can be very beneficial and prevent you from being the next casualty, or just from generally unpleasant experiences. 

If the route you want to follow cannot be replaced by another one, at least in terms of traffic, you can wait and postpone your ride for later. 

Prepare Your Bike

You’ve probably heard that every cyclist that knows how to ride has the right equipment. But do you know what this entails?

Let's start with the lights! Lights are very inexpensive, small, and you have no excuse not to use them on your bike! A bicycle should always be equipped with front and back lights, most preferably white or yellow and of course a red reflector to the rear. 

Especially when you’re riding your bike late you need to be visible to both drivers and pedestrians. If you’re cycling at night or in dimly lit places, be sure to purchase high-beam headlights that are brighter and safer for you and fellow drivers. These types of lights are usually rechargeable and more expensive but considering your safety, you shouldn’t think twice!

Equally necessary for cycling is a good bell, mudguards, a lock, and even panniers, if you want to carry your stuff easily. Before every ride, don’t forget to check if all the mechanical parts of your bike are in good condition such as the: 

  • wheels
  • brakes
  • gears and shifter
  • Tyres
  • Handlebars

Your tyres might need a pump or your chain a little bit of lubricant. If going to the bike shop isn’t easy for you, a small house pump, levers, a multi-tool, and some disposable gloves are more than enough to get you ready for the road! 

It’s always better to check the tyres before you start your trip, rather than having to repair them in the middle of your journey! The most common problems are a flat tyre, gear issues, or a chain coming off. You can fix all of this by yourself by having some essential tools and spare parts with you just in case. 

Wear the Correct Attire

The right clothes for cycling are rule number one, as they help you ride your bike comfortably and for longer. So, first, you need a helmet! A helmet is necessary every time you use your bike (even if it’s for a small trip to the shops!) as the most reported road accidents happen to be around areas local to cyclists, in which we feel more in control. 

The helmet you should buy needs to be a British Standard BS EN 1078:1997, and of course be the right size for your head. A proper helmet will usually sit a few inches above your eyebrows, not sloped away, and will fit approximately 2 fingers in between the strap and the chin. Buying a second helmet is also a good idea, in case someone else in your family (with a different head size) decides to use your bike.

Clothes and shoes should be comfortable and not obstruct your movements, and ensure that your pants or skirt do not get caught in the chain and gears. If you wear the wrong attire, you might not only get dirty, but there’s a risk of injury. A reflective vest or jacket is also advised to be more easily observed by other drivers or pedestrians. Biking glasses and gloves can also help you move more comfortably.

Be Respectful

You might think: “This is not a tip!”. But respecting other drivers and pedestrians on the road (even those who don’t respect us!), is the best way to stay safe. It’s also a basic rule for driving and cycling. For your own safety, but also for the safety of others, it’s important to move in a predictable and polite manner, adhering to the traffic code. 

You should make sure that your position is visible by motorists and warn with your hand in the direction you want to go or by making eye contact. Signalling clearly is essential when you’re on the road. You always need to stop at red lights and move in the direction of the cars and do not ride into the gap between the vehicle and the curb. Lorries will often move slower than other vehicles, but that doesn’t mean you need to pass them!

When at junctions, always look for incoming vehicles before you make a turn and look out for motorcycles that might turn without a warning. Also, don’t cycle on pavements or roads that are prohibited to bikes and signal confidently when you are planning to change your route. It’s always better to be heard and seen, than to cause an accident because you didn’t check your surroundings. 

The centre of a traffic lane is considered the safest position if you’re planning for a long journey. Lastly, be prepared to always change your position and do not assume that others know your next move. A cyclist's primary concern should always be their own safety and that of others. In this way, not only will you gain respect but also ensure your life is not compromised. 

Image Credit: einszweifrei / Pixabay

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