Riding around the city to work, to class or just to get a coffee is becoming more popular by the year. It was said that cycling levels in the UK increased by 70% in March 2020, so we seem to all be taking to the bike seat rather than our cars nowadays. This means that there are many more cyclists on our roads, and safety is of paramount importance, so here are a few tips for students riding a bike in the city.
We all know the saying ‘safety in numbers’ and the same goes for cycling on roads. If you are riding with other cyclists, cars are more likely to notice you and give you the room you need to stay safe.
Riding with others can also give you the confidence to take up space on the road and make yourself known. You don’t want to be a timid cyclist as this will make drivers nervous around you and can cause issues. If you are a student riding a bike in a new city, it also gives you the chance to make new friends who have a shared interest.
Basic Road Rules
Of course, it is best if you take a short bike course that teaches you the full range of road safety regulations, however you should definitely know the absolute basics.
When you are turning left or right, it is common for cyclists to use arm signals instead of indicators. This is recognised by most drivers and is considered polite as you are letting everyone around you know exactly where you are going, keeping nervy drivers in the loop too.
If you are coming to a red light, if you can, cyclists can ride up to the front of the queue and sit in the designated bike area. This allows cars to notice you more and give you the time and room to safely manoeuvre wherever you need.
It may sound silly, but if there is a designated bike lane on the road, use it. The city roads are busy and overcrowded anyway, so add in cyclists who move into car lanes, and it will just make traffic longer, rile up the road rage and put everyone at risk. The best thing you can do is sit in the bike lane and stay as safe as you can.
You should always be wearing a helmet when you get on a bike, as you never know what will happen. But an ill-fitting helmet will not keep you as safe as you would like. According to Eliana Marcus-Tyler at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, “You shouldn’t be able to fit more than two fingers horizontally between the top of your eyebrows and the rim of your helmet.”
Even just having a reflective light on the back and sides of your bike is better than nothing when you are riding on roads. Drivers have a lot to look out for and sometimes they may not see a cyclist in dark clothes on a dark bike, so you need to make yourself seen.
Riding through a city means going faster than you would normally ride as you are trying to keep up the pace for the surrounding cars. You need to make sure that your brakes have not been worn down to more than 1/8 of an inch. To keep yourself safe, you need to be able to rely on your brakes, especially if they are the only thing stopping you from hitting into a fast-moving car.
Lock It Up
We never think it will happen to us, but bike theft is prevalent in city centres. If you must leave your bike unattended for any reason, it is best to leave it locked up to a solid feature. There are several bike racks around city centres specifically for this reason. However, if you don’t stop near one of these, you could use a lamppost or something similar.
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