Cycling in city traffic can be dangerous at any time of day. However, you can stay safe as long as you use common sense, obey the road rules, and follow these simple tips to ensure you don’t end up under somebody’s wheel or the victim of irrational peak hour road rage.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet is mandatory in many countries; without a plastic, reinforced crash helmet, the risk of your brains being dashed on the footpath is significantly higher, as the human head is a sensitive body part, prone to random vulnerabilities. Aside from protecting your life from bad drivers, crumbly gutters and life’s little accidents, helmets can be fitted with bright lights to alert motorists to your presence. They may sound clumsy and very cumbersome, but a helmet light can mean the difference between missing an essential turn and maintaining a straight path home.
Wear Suitable Clothing
You are what you wear, or is it what you eat? Either way, investing in the right clothing for your daily commute or weekend leisure rides will ensure your experience on the bike paths is easy and uneventful. Look at your wardrobe and consider your possible riding attire. Tight jeans and a clingy top or shirt? You may look swanky on a casual Saturday, strolling through town in your profile pleasing chinos or stovepipe jeans, but we have some bad news for you. Restrictive clothing will hamper movement and comfort. No worries, you say, taking out a long flowing skirt or baggy pants; again bad news, loose clothing can catch in the spokes. Go for function over fashion, and make sure your shoes are flat and non-slip; thongs (or flip flops) are not shoes in this instance.
Be Comfortable With Your Bike
Cycling with or against the tide in heavy traffic can be difficult under the best conditions; if you’re uncomfortable with your bike and uncertain of its dynamics, quirks and features, your dreams of riding to work should be put on hold for a few weeks. Why? Because you stand a high chance of harming yourself, pedestrians and drivers. Putting that brutal truth aside for a moment, a greater familiarity will build your confidence, as challenging situations often bring out our reflexes. Before you hit the road again, be aware of braking, acceleration, gear changes and uses, your bling spots, indicating with your hands and consciously scanning for danger, while being a responsible road commuter. Sounds a bit exhausting really; don’t worry, you can do this.
Avoid Auditory Distractions
Mobile phones and mp3 players/iPods are a hazard on the road; remember, a bicycle is still a vehicle. Any distractions, including your favourite song, will greatly impair your ability to communicate with cars and pedestrians. Bikes, unlike cars and other motorised transportation, aren’t fitted out with mirrors or proximity sensors, your eyes and ears need to be on the clock at all times. Music, podcasts, radio feeds and other auditory distractions may work magnificently to redirect your attention away from the burn in the back of your knees, but they aren’t doing you any favours. Far from it, in fact. Your ability to judge speed and distance is greatly impacted, causing accidents and verbal arguments, often at your expense. Forget about hearing sneaky hybrid cars and modern city zippers creeping up on you, Spotify is blasting away and you don’t have time to worry about the road rules, right? Wrong. For more information, visit this website, share the road, and stay safe in city traffic.
Obey the road rules, flow with the traffic and motorists will appreciate your attention to detail. Road respect, we’re all guilty of forgetting about it; do you have any morning commute stories to make our pedals turn? Let us know in the comments below.
Victoria Tara is a writer, sports lover, and mother of three children.