If you’re new to bike commuting, then you’ll probably get blown away by the big savings you’ll reap in time and money, not to mention the enjoyment you’ll get from each and every ride. But it’s not all fine and dandy if you ride in the city, where you have to share the road with motorists and pedestrians. Follow these quick tips and hacks to get the most out of your bike commute, and have a great time while at it!
Increase your VISIBILITY
As the slowest and most vulnerable road user, never assume that other motorists can see you. Wear bright and reflective clothing to increase your visibility. Put blinkers on your bike both in front and behind, and turn these on even during the day.
Always be Alert
Never zone out on even a short ride. Always be aware of what’s ahead of you, and avoid target fixation. Scan the road ahead for possible obstacles and danger zones. Do a quick look behind before you change lanes.
Agility will save you
Agility is the mental and physical ability to make split second decisions that can really save your life. If a jeep suddenly stops in front of you, do you A) Swerve left B) Swerve right or C) Jam on the brakes and pray you don’t catapult into the jeep?
Ride at a high cadence
A high cadence of 80-90rpm lets you quickly accelerate from stops and pass slower vehicles. You should also be comfortable with occasionally riding out of the saddle to accelerate or to pass. This high frequency technique also draws attention and lets other motorists be aware that you are passing or accelerating.
Follow road rules and regulations
Yield at intersections, stop at red lights, and stay in the bike lane when it’s available. When it’s not, stay in the right side so as not to impede the flow of faster traffic. If you need to overtake a slower vehicle or parked car, check your back, signal with your hand that you need to pass, and make it quick!
Avoid the gutter
Grease, mud, sand, and debris collect at the gutter. Stay about 1.5 meters from the gutter to avoid sliding or getting a puncture. This also signals to motorists that you are occupying the lane, so they must consciously overtake you instead of just as opposed to just blowing by you if you were at the gutter.
Avoid vehicle blind spots and door zones!
Be aware of motorist’s blind spots and “door zones”; the left- and right-rear sides that their mirrors don’t cover, and around 2 feet from the doors. Especially be wary of buses and trucks which have especially large blind spots all around. Steer clear whenever possible. If that’s not doable, make sure you’re going slow enough that you can immediately stop if a door suddenly opens or he decides to swerve into you.
Yield to faster traffic
Just because you’re entitled to your own space on the road doesn’t mean you can hog a tight 2-lane road. If there’s a clear road ahead and there are vehicles behind you, give a little room for them to pass so you don’t hold them up. Signal with your left hand that it’s safe to overtake, too. Be courteous.
Practice your handling skills
Fast descents, trackstanding, lane filtering, 1-hand/no hands riding are all vital skills that will help to keep you safe. Practice first in a grassy field or empty parking lot before you actually hit the road.
Practice road courtesy
Give way at intersections when faster traffic has already established their move. Wave a “thank you” when motorists give you some space. Acknowledge other cyclists with a wave or a simple nod.