10 Tips for Riding a Bike in an Urban Area

I’m sure most people can ride a bicycle in parking lots and grassy fields but can you take on an urban area? Can you safely ride your bike in an urban area? I ask because not everybody can. At least not before knowing some key tips for riding in an urban area. In my article, I will give you ten tips for riding in an urban area that will make you a ‘city cruiser’ in no time.

First of all, urban places are not known to be the friendliest of environments for cyclists. They are often congested, and everyone is trying to get somewhere, and they can be intimidating for a cyclist. There is plenty of human and car traffic.

You need to know that while urban-bike riding, a plethora of negative things could happen to you. You could get sideswiped, doored (this means getting knocked off your bike by a car door that is swinging open.Often sudden and unintentional), or your bike – or parts of it – could get stolen.

Perhaps even catch a flat right there in the middle of the city. Some of these are avoidable though, and I will give you tips for riding in an urban area.

Be a Confident Rider

As much as a fear of riding in an urban area is not unfounded, learn to overcome that fear as it will do nothing for you. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with routes in that urban area or ride during off hours before tackling it on a bicycle in heavy traffic. It will make it less stressful. Fear subsides with experience and time.

Ease into It

Also consider riding on the sidewalk where there are less pedestrians, or on bike trails. This will help you learn to navigate less intimidating obstacles like potholes, dogs, pedestrians, other cyclists, joggers and et cetera. Once you get used to navigating the trails, then you can be confident enough to ease yourself onto the road with automobiles.

Know and Observe Traffic Rules and Bike Laws

This is very vital as these traffic rules help keep you and everyone else on the road, safe. These include traffic lights and signals and yielding to pedestrians when needed to. You should always be very alert and observant because unfortunately, not everyone will be courteous or even alert on the road and the consequences could be tragic.

Since bicycles are vehicles too, you should obey all rules that apply to automobiles, learn about the cycling specific rules and also learn the ‘unwritten’ rules that you will learn through speaking with other cyclists and through experience.

Gear up the Right Way

Getting the right gear is necessary. Right from the bike. Ensure that you have the perfect bike for what you intend to do with your bike. Be it commuting to work, running errands or whatever. Make sure it is the right size for you too. Always wear a helmet, as it will provide you with a higher sense of safety, and will protect your head when a crash takes place.

See, Be Seen and Heard

An important accessory when riding in an urban area is a mirror. It helps you focus ahead without having to turn to keep an eye on traffic behind you. A bell, lights and reflective gear are also important. The bell alerts other people on the road of your presence. Lights and reflective gear make sure you are seen, especially at night. However, you should still be prepared for those who might not see you or choose not to.

Get Familiar with your Gear

Take your time to familiarize yourself with the bike and the rest of your gear. Know how the bike works and know things like how to pump air into a tire in case of a flat and how to replace the chain. It will even boost your confidence a little and make you ride better with your peace of mind intact.

Lock your Bike

Bike theft in the city is an unfortunate reality as the city is full of people just trying to get by. Legally or illegally. Reselling a bike or its parts is an easy way to make a quick buck. When you get off your bike because you need to, say, enter a store, secure your bike well before you go. Have an appropriate lock and keep it attached to your bike, so it is always available for use.

Learn to Turn

On a busy road, turning can be difficult. Obey all traffic laws and make sure others are aware of what you are doing. Give yourself enough time to signal appropriately and them enough time to see you and react accordingly.

Treat all Taxis as if its Doors are Already Open

Because you can never know when someone is going to get out of a cab, as a general rule just stay outside of their reach to avoid being ‘doored’. Dooring can cause serious injuries, or it can cause you to veer off into a busy lane or be thrown off your bike.

Sharing the Road

It is important to learn to share the road with other cyclists, automobiles, and pedestrians. Do not be that cyclist with no courtesy on the road. If you want to earn respect, show respect to other road users. Use bike lanes where available and ride with the traffic, not against it.

Final Words

In those ten simple steps, I have covered just about everything you need to know about riding in an urban area. These tips are for beginners and experts alike, and I enjoyed writing them for you I hope you have as much fun cruising through and exploring the city. Remember to be visible, be legal and be predictable above everything to keep and keep other road users safe.

About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!

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