Navigating Busy City Streets: Tips For Urban Bike Riding

As the weather continues to improve, more and more bikers will go out to cycle. Cycling is a convenient way to get around in urban areas while avoiding traffic. If you are biking to run errands, or considering commuting on your bike to work, you can save money and help the environment.

Not only is this a relaxing past-time, but it is also a great source of exercise and recreation. Before hitting the streets, it is important to think about the unique challenges and hazards of biking in urban areas. Below we have selected the best tips for urban bike riding this season.

Plan Your Route

Before biking out in any city or urban area, it is important that you plan your route. This can make or break a trip. Consider using routes with designated or protected bike lanes. Most cities have online maps of bike routes available.

Mobile apps, such as Strava, MapMyRide, and Google Maps, can help you find bike-friendly routes through your city.  Remember to check local municipality websites for areas of construction that may inhibit your route and adjust your plans accordingly.

Planning your route can ensure that you avoid these hazards and detours and allow you to choose an alternative route that meets your skill level and needs.

Follow Traffic Rules

Just like any other vehicle on the road, cyclists must follow all traffic rules. Including stopping at stop signs and lights, obeying speed limits, and yielding to pedestrians. Ride in the direction of traffic and stay in designated bike lanes. Laws vary from state to state and from city to city, so educate yourself on the regulations in the area you will be riding.

Make Yourself Visible

With the many cars on busy city streets, it is imperative to make yourself visible to drivers. Equip your bike with reflectors and bike lights. Always wear bright, reflective clothing. A city is a bustling place, and this means there are many pedestrians, vehicles, and bikes around while you are enjoying your ride.

Since this is the case, it is of the utmost importance that you use hand signals when turning left or right. It is also essential to use hand signals when slowing down or stopping.  This will alert other moving traffic of your intentions and protect you from serious injury.

Without these hand signals, other vehicles and pedestrians may not realize your intention to turn or stop, and this can result in a serious accident or injury.

You should always be aware of the driver’s blind spots and avoid riding in them. Be cautious of large right-turning vehicles at intersections and take extra caution. So-called “right-hook” accidents are a common cause of cyclist injuries.


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    Stay In Your Lane

    Many urban areas have specific locations for bikes to travel. Known as designated or protected bike lanes, these bike lanes provide protection for bikes from moving vehicles.

    Protected lanes have a barrier between bike and car lanes providing extra protection for cyclists. Bike lanes often have special lights and sensors to help control the flow of traffic and provide a safe crossing of intersections for cyclists.

    These lanes are becoming common in many areas and new laws in some states are making them mandatory. This means that when an urban area improves a road, it must incorporate them into the new layout. Look for urban areas with dedicated bike lanes for the utmost safety when riding.

    Always Expect The Unexpected

    Anywhere you travel, there is always a chance of risk and danger. Biking defensively is the best way to prepare yourself for these unexpected hazards. Whether it be a car that cuts you off or a child on a scooter that darts out in front of you, it is always important to be prepared.

    Keep an eye out for road hazards, such as gravel, potholes, and rough or wet pavement. Avoid wearing headphones as they may distract you from your environment. A split second can alter a bike ride from a pleasant activity to a painful accident in seconds.

    Be Prepared

    With plenty of road hazards in urban settings, you should always be prepared for a breakdown. Carry a bike repair kit that includes a pump, innertube, and tools.  Spring weather can change quickly, so be prepared in case of rain. Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated on your ride.

    Make sure that your bike and other equipment are in good working order before you ride each day. Regular bike maintenance will help assure you have a safe, reliable way to get around.

    Safety First

    While many cities have worked to make safety improvements for cyclists, biking in busy urban areas still comes with risks. Many cities are creating more bike-friendly environments. San Francisco has worked to provide safer biking leading to a reduction in injury-causing cycling accidents in 2020 and 2021.

    When biking this season, it is important to use common safe and good safety practices. If you ride defensively and follow the rules of the road, you will likely have a very comfortable and pleasant ride throughout the city of your choice.

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    Navigating Busy City Streets: Tips For Urban Bike Riding — Bike Hacks