Looking for tips on riding your bike in a big city? You’ve come to the right page.
Riding your bike in a big city requires skill, attention, and courage. With the traffic buzzing around you, unwary pedestrians crossing the streets, pollution, and noise — experienced urban bikers would surely agree with me when I say that biking in a big city is very different compared to riding a bike on the mountains. Equally dangerous but with less fun.
For many of us, we ride our bikes in the city out of necessity than leisure. We don’t want to get stuck in heavy traffic and get to work as quickly as we can.
Below are some awesome tips on how to ride a bike in a big city.
1. Confidence is key
Major rule. Just think of the city as a jungle and you are the king. Ride like you own the road — just remember to follow all the traffic rules. Everything moves so fast and everyone has to be somewhere. So are you! You have all the right to be there and there’s no reason for you to shy away. Trust me. Being timid will only make you an obstacle for other cyclists. You might even cause danger to them. Or to yourself.
Take your time. Choose the roads with lesser cars or simply where you think is safest. Be wary of empty of empty alleyways. Practice as much as you want. Once you are ready, brave the traffic. Just remember to always wear a bike helmet for extra protection.
We will be rooting for you. See you on the other end!
2. You will get doored at some point.
If you think you’re invincible if you ride your bike at the edge of the road, think again. Watch out for doors! Being doored is no joke and is considered as an actual biking hazard by many urban cyclists.
Here’s the sad reality:
Car drivers will not acknowledge your presence. They will not go out of the way just for you. Your only shield is to follow the traffic rules. Religiously.
We are still years away from having a city that obeys all the traffic rules to the letter (will that day ever come?), especially in busy streets. But, that should not stop you from making a difference. Be your own example when it comes to road safety and driving etiquette.
3. Google Maps is your best friend.
Well, you have to befriend it first. Learn its quirks, and hacks, and whereabouts. Use it to your benefit. The right use of technology can make your daily bike commute easy.
Google Maps is not just about satellite images and cool street-views. And it’s definitely not just for checking your house’s roof every now and then!
Google Maps has awesome biker-friendly features that you can freely use.
“Turn to the right and 9 meters to the left is your destination.”
Google Maps even take your GPS experience one notch higher by helping you find the shortest route to your destination.
4. Care for your bike like you care about your life.
All things need proper maintenance, and so does your bike. Take time to check the basics — gears, brakes, screws, tires pumped and bolts — before leaving each day.
5. Make locking your bike a habit.
Securing your bike isn’t as easy as dogs securing their territory. Peeing on it won’t let others know it’s yours. Even if you do so, (not that I am suggesting you actually do it!), doesn’t mean opportunists won’t take it. And dogs bite, bikes don’t.
It’s no longer a secret that the city has a lot of bike thieves. In fact, bike theft is a million-dollar business in the United States! It only takes a wrench or a ratchet to remove all those bolts and screws on your bike leaving you only half or a third of it.
The most important tip in riding a bike in a big city is to lock your bike up. I know it gets a bit tedious especially after miles of commuting and less practical when you’re only hitting up Starbucks for a coffee take-out. But better safe than sorry.
6. Use single speed bikes.
Single speed bikes are the perfect bikes to use in the city. It’s made with smooth tires, allowing great control when shifting. If this type of bike is off the budget, commuter bikes would do. It’s not only easy to maintain but is also good for navigating around urban and congested areas.
It is enticing to use mountain bikes when riding around the city. But it is not ideal. Its gears might be helpful for slopes, though.
7. Know your route. Familiarize the road.
Let’s not create a meme of ourselves. It’s easy to miss accidents if you know which part of the road to avoid. There are a lot of uncovered holes in big cities. Great if there’s none on your way (but they can magically appear anytime!). Always be careful when riding your bike in a big city and try not to travel when it’s already getting dark. Safety should always be your top priority.
If you really need to ride your bike at night, make sure to wear reflector strips on your clothing, shoes and on your bike. This will make it easier for drivers to see you and thus, avoid unwanted accidents.
8. Always anticipate.
Riding your bike in a big city is also a matter of having a wide perspective. Don’t just pin your attention on where your tire is! Look ahead. Look around. Always anticipate. Staying on the alert is a sure-fire way to reaching your destination safely.
Commuting using a bike, especially in big cities, is not to be taken lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider. Weather, time of the day, traffic situation, general safety of the area, road debris, uncovered manholes, car doors, unwary pedestrians, and bike thieves — to name a few
Once you get a hang of it, it will eventually become part of your system. And later on, you’ll become an expert at urban biking! Once you have invested ample time and effort, you will be unstoppable.
Start now and get on your way!