These experts tips from experienced urban cyclists can help bike commuters stay safe.
Commuting by bike is a great way to get exercise and relieve traffic congestion, but safety should always come first. Here at RideAmigos, we’re big fans of increasing bicycle usage as part of a transportation demand management strategy.
During these summer months many organizations promote bicycling as a smart and healthy way to commute. As partners in a shared mission of transforming transportation, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips from experienced urban bike commuters to help keep your organization’s cyclists safe. Share and re-use widely!
- Adopt “active scanning.” Always be aware of everything going on around you. Scan the road, as well as adjoining driveways and intersections. When you’re able to do so safely, take periodic glances behind you to see what’s approaching. Even better – invest in a mirror.
- Be predictable. Don’t make sudden moves or swerve into traffic. If you’re scanning properly, you’ll react to obstacles like sewer grates and cracked pavement smoothly and well ahead of time.
- Use your ears. As a cyclist, you’re more reliant on your hearing than you may realize. Never ride wearing headphones or earbuds.
- Be defensive. Drivers are protected by thousands of pounds of steel and glass. You’re not. It won’t matter that you had the right-of-way if you get hit by a car. Don’t be aggressive; be cautious.
- Eye contact is your friend. Making eye contact with turning drivers is the only way you can be sure they’ve seen you. If you’re not sure a motorist knows you’re there, slow down and be prepared to stop.
- Be seen and heard. Bells, headlights, reflectors, and bright, reflective clothing are all helpful, especially if you’re going to be riding at night.
- Control your speed. Maintain a suitable speed for road conditions; slow down in heavy traffic. You need to give yourself enough time to react to anything that might happen.
In addition, safe riding means staying alert at all times for potential hazards:
- People emerging from parked cars. “Dooring,” as it’s known, can be very dangerous. Give yourself ample clearance when riding past parked vehicles, and keep your eyes open for people who may be about to step out of their cars and onto the street.
- Turning vehicles. Many motorists are only looking for oncoming cars, and bikes can be hard to see in heavy traffic. Be extra careful when going through intersections.
- Aggressive drivers. Unfortunately, some motorists drive as though the road belongs to them. Don’t pick a fight; avoid confrontations, especially needless ones.
- Drivers in reverse. People backing out of driveways or into parking spots are more likely to be watching where they’re going than watching for oncoming bikes. Again, be extra defensive in these situations.
With support and experience, it becomes second-nature to navigate city streets by bike. Even so, bike commuters should never take safety for granted!
Riding with a group is another great way to improve your bicycle visibility, and by extension, safety. Like carpooling, bikepooling can also turn commuting into a social event. The RideAmigos platform is an ideal way to build a bikepooling network and promote bicycling as a viable form of commuting.
Help people skip the solo drive – contact RideAmigos today!