By Abdul Ansari
Cars, bikes, and automobiles are the primary causes of traffic in urban areas. On the other hand, bicycles have the upper hand in getting you out of the traffic, especially if there is someplace you need to be.
Hence, bicycles are reasonable commuting options in densely populated areas as they escape the doldrums of heavy traffic.
Riding a bicycle in congested roads and heavy traffic may be dangerous. So, following basic traffic rules and regulations is a must for cyclists. Also, the necessary safety measures should be taken by cyclists to prevent accidents and injuries.
Here we explain a few essential safety tips while cycling in traffic. These tips and guidelines will help you become a better, safer, and wiser cyclist!
So, without further ado, let us dive straight into the article.
Image: Coen van den Broek / Unsplash
Safety Tips while Cycling in Traffic
Practice and Preparations
Whether you are a beginner or a professional cyclist, riding a bicycle on a busy road is tricky. Before jump-starting on cycling in traffic, practice riding in a parking lot. You will be able to ride around cars at a slower pace. Work on pedaling and applying brakes to allow automobiles to pass.
You should be prepared before heading out. The tires should be inflated, and the seats well adjusted. Also, ensure the brakes and chains are in proper working conditions. You need to know the basic operations of a bicycle, including changing gears, accelerating, signaling, and braking.
Ride Track Bikes on the Street
Before you decide to hit the road, try riding your bike on the side streets. This helps you build confidence while familiarizing yourself with the daily road obstacles.Track bikes include a fixed gear with neither brakes nor a freewheel. They are designed for racing inside a velodrome or bike track. Hence, it is better to ride your track bike on the streets instead of the main road for safety.
Adequate Gear for Protection
Make sure you wear a comfortable helmet with a perfect fit to protect your head from injures. You should also opt for brighter clothes to increase your visibility. Reflective clothing is a better option at night. Drivers of trucks, cars, and other vehicles will be able to see you, preventing collisions and accidents.
Equip your Bike with Protective Accessories
You can also enhance visibility by adding lights to your bike. A white front headlight and red light at the back of your bicycle will help drivers to see you. The headlight will also improve your visibility during the day in case of fog or heavy rain. Reflectors also work well at night to make the bike visible.
Along with light, sound also plays a vital role in alerting a driver. Install a horn or bell on the handle of your bike to alert a nearby driver of your presence. Ensure the bell is loud enough to be audible to nearby drivers in their cars.
Pay Attention and Avoid Distractions
Always pay attention while riding in traffic. Distractions may cause unwanted accidents and injuries as you may not see a car coming your way.
Avoid using your phone for talking or texting as it is a huge distraction. Even listening to music on your earphones is a strict no.
Look ahead at the road at all times and be attentive. Hitting a stone, puddle, or pothole may throw you to the direction of a car. Moreover, the abrupt brakes and sudden maneuvers may distract automobile drivers.
Also, maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between you and a parked car during traffic. The sudden opening of the car door may throw you off the bicycle.
Indicate the Drivers before Turning or Changing Lanes
Use hand gestures to indicate drivers when turning or changing lanes. Put your left arm straight out to the left if you wish to turn left. You can do the same with your right hand, pointing towards the right for turning right. Bending your left arm at the elbow with your arm pointing down signifies you want to stop.
However, signaling or indicating driver would be pointless if they did not see you. Make eye contact with the driver while signaling, and then you can safely turn or change lanes without fear of collisions.
Riding Fixie Bikes in Traffic
Fixie or fixed gear bikes are single-speed bikes with a drivetrain and no freewheels. These bikes are like track bikes, but they are more suitable commuting on the road, especially in traffic. The durable and affordable bikes offer better efficiency because of the short-chain length and straight chain line.
Moreover, fixie bikes enable you to focus on the ride and traffic. It comes with a single fixed gear, saving you from the hassle of changing gears. This bike is also easy to maneuver in slow-paced traffic.
Riding a fixie bike in traffic is effortless as you don’t have to do much. Hence, you remain attentive and focused, making it a safe option for cycling in traffic.
Image: Max Adulyanukosol / Unsplash
Avoid Undertaking Trucks
Trucks and lorries tend to have a blind-spot on their passenger side. The truck driver may not see you in the mirror while cycling on their left. Hence, maneuvering might put you at serious risk.
Do not try and undertake the truck. Also, be cautious and attentive while nearing the rear of the large vehicle. Access the proximity and situation carefully. Never assume that the driver can see you, but instead take necessary safety measures for your protection.
In case, a truck tries to overtake you and eventually pulls up at the traffic light before maneuvering. In such situations, move past, in front of the truck, making sure the driver notices you. Certain areas come with lanes specifically for bicycles. Use them if available to avoid accidents!
Follow the Direction of Traffic
Make sure to follow the rules and regulations of the road. Always follow the flow of traffic and move in its direction. This helps drivers predict your whereabouts on the road, enhancing your safety.
Also, ride your bike in a straight line to remain predictable to drivers. Weaving in and out or moving in a zig-zag manner makes you an unpredictable cyclist. This may lead to crashes and collisions, which could have been avoided.
If you are riding your bike on a sidewalk, bike lane, or street, allow pedestrians to cross. Letting them pass first will prevent a traffic jam. Also, you need to enable them to cross using the crosswalk before taking a turn.
Pay Attention to Traffic Lights and Signals
A cyclist has to follow the same traffic rules and regulations as cars, trucks, and other vehicles. You need to stop at red and stop signs. These signs and signals indicate drivers of what you are going to do next. This prevents collisions and ensures that the traffic is smooth.
How to Complain about Defective Traffic Lights
Ensure that the traffic lights in your area are working correctly. Faulty and defective traffic lights will lead to a violation of traffic regulations, an increase in traffic jams, and avoidable accidents. So, it is our responsibility as residents to complain about faulty traffic lights of our city and the neighboring regions.
You can register complaints by visiting your local authority’s website. There is usually a toll-free hotline and dedicated email where you can send in complaints. You could provide feedback about defective traffic lights, or even report incidents of those who violate traffic regulations.
Cycling in traffic is not easy, even if you are a professional cyclist. It is very different from racing, mountain biking, and adventure riding. You come across various obstacles in the course of your journey. Moreover, riding a bike on the main road involves following traffic rules and regulations.
You will need to be attentive at all times while analyzing the movements and maneuvering of cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Along with these factors, your safety and protection should be a priority.
Ensure you wear safety gear such as helmets, knee pads, and bright clothing to safeguard you from accidents and injuries. Here we have provided many essential safety tips for cycling in traffic to ensure protection from serious injuries.
Life is precious, so be cautious while riding your bike. Your safety is in your hands. Please ensure that you take all necessary steps to stay safe, and have an enjoyable ride. I hope this article helps!
Abdul Ansari is a freelance blogger who has written multiple articles for fitness and sports websites. He reviews outdoor and home products at Reviews.in. On weekends you will find him playing volleyball.