With many cities going green and striving to minimise pollution and congestion, riding your bike in the city will support the country’s ecological cause no end. You don’t have to be an eco warrior to reap the numerous health and financial benefits from city biking. Save on car fuel and maintenance costs. Improve you cardiovascular system and manage your weight. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind on your face. Beat the traffic and get to work and back faster than most cars and busses. However, as with any physical activity, there tips to bear in mind especially where our old friends health and safety and the law are concerned!
What CAN you do riding a bike in the city?
Urban bike riding is convenient for getting around and is lots of fun, and it’s good to know what you can do to ride safely and have a great time into the bargain.
- You can ride at a suitable distance (e.g. 0.5meters) away from the kerb but not so far out that you’re taking up half the lane and obstructing the traffic.
- Of course, you can ride on designated cycle paths and cycleways, being mindful of other cyclists.
- You can and should use your senses to look out for motorists and pedestrians who may be completing manoeuvres or stepping out into the road, often a short notice! The same applies to looking out for red lights and pedestrian crossings.
- You can overtake other cyclists and even other traffic. However, make sure you do it safely, giving a safe, wide berth and making sure nothing is coming in the opposite direction!
- Also, you can slipstream other cyclists (riding close to their back wheel) but, one word of caution, only do this if you’re a more experienced cyclist as there are inherent dangers involved, including colliding with their back wheel and having an accident.
- You can use bike lights during the daytime in the city. Since 2005, the law changed and these can be flashing lights, e.g. a white flashing light at the front and a red flashing light at the back to improve your visibility.
- Finally, you can wear a helmet although it isn’t mandatory. However, a helmet and suitable bright or even fluorescent attire are strongly advisable so you can be seen!
What CAN’T you do riding a bike in the city?
When you ride the city, you need to be aware that you’re subject to the highway code and the rules of the road. Riding through the city needs to be safe and enjoyable, so avoid these common bad practices that get cyclists a bad name:
- You can’t jump red lights. Just because you’re on two wheels, it doesn’t mean you can go when the lights say stop. This is dangerous to yourself and other road users.
- You can’t afford to make poor timing decisions when it comes to manoeuvres on a bike in the city. If you misjudge turning across a line of oncoming traffic, it could be fatal, so keep your wits about you.
- You can’t ride the wrong way up one-way streets. You might think it’s fine, but you’ll be putting yourself and other road users in danger.
- Equally, you can’t riding on pavements, unless they’re part of a designated cycle way.
- Riding at night without lights is breaking the law and is one of the things you can’t do. It’s also incredibly unsafe as you can’t be seen!
- Good practice says that you can’t ride safely with your headphones in as you’re depriving yourself of one of your essential senses – your hearing!
- Cycling in dark clothing isn’t illegal but really is one of the no-no’s for your safety as motorists won’t be able to see you as well!
- Undertaking vehicles or sipping up the inside to beat a line of traffic is also a big no-no. You never know when a vehicle might turn left without indicating and, if you’re alongside it when the driver can’t see you, you’ll hit the deck!
- Riding too close to parked vehicles is also inadvisable. Car drivers can open car doors without looking, causing a nasty crash.
By following these tips on how to ride a bike in the city, hopefully your ride through the city will always be an invigorating and great experience.