Many of us bike riders will at some point be faced with some form of city cycling. Some of us less often, but the chances are. If you ride a bike you will at some point find yourself negotiating a big town or city on two wheels. But I think it’s more than that isn’t it. I think you should actively seek our riding in a city, it’s a great way of getting around or just a fantastic way of exploring and seeing the sites. But if you’re not feeling too confident, or you just want to brush up on some skills, well here are our top tips for city cycling.
1. Planning your route
Planning your route or at least working out what you want to include on your city ride is a great place to start your journey. If you want to get to work as quickly and safely as you can, you’ll want to avoid crossings and junctions too often, as these will slow you down. A great way to do this would be to follow the bike paths, as these are designed to crossroads, and other forms of transport as little as possible. On the other hand, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you could branch out, maybe do an extra loop, go the less direct way, and explore parts of the city you haven’t seen before. Either way, planning what it is you would like to do. How long you expect it to take you, and roughly where you would like to go will increase your enjoyment as this will avoid any nasty surprises along the way.
2. Staying alert staying safe
Above all else staying alert and staying safe will do more to ensure your enjoyment when riding in the city than anything else. That doesn’t mean your ride has to become a boring risk assessment exercise, it just means keeping your eyes open and scanning for any hazards around you. Not everyone expects to see cyclists in cities, and indeed the infrastructure can throw up. Some expected surprises like raised curbs, barriers, posts, and these can blend into the surroundings, and just appear to come out of nowhere. So, if you stay alert, you’ll better at noticing them. But there are more reasons to be alert, you can also be a danger to others. So watch out for the unexpected, and only ride as fast as you can stop. Exceeding your limit is rarely as fun as you would hope it to be. stick to riding at under 95% of your limit and it will be much more enjoyable. You’ll be in more control, and conscious of what the inputs you make to the bike are doing. This is a great way to learn bike control.
3. Been seen been heard
City cycling is fairly low risk when done correctly, but there are a couple of things that we can do to make it even safer. A good set of lights for a start, and coupled with some reflective clothing, or something reflective on your back, is a great way to draw attention from other road users. In fact, lights on moving limbs are proven to be more effective at doing this. And for when you can’t be seen a bell or a horn is a great way or drawing attention to yourself, because cities are full of blind 90 degree corners, so a quick toot or a ding can alert others to your presence. No one wants to crash or to hurt themselves, or anyone else for that fact do they? No, I do not want to crash, at all.
So why not add a little fun into your ride. Even the tiniest of curbs can be the perfect Launchpad for a quick jump, and then speed bumps. When you time a bunny hop absolutely perfectly and land on the backside of a speed bump, it can be incredibly rewarding, you’ll even feel like you’ve barely left the ground. You could also use speed and distance judgment, as an exercise in timing. For example, if you want to try and get through every traffic light without stopping, well if you judge it just right you might be able to. Or how about practicing your slow speed, or no speed maneuvers, so learn to track stand, where you balance motionless without touching the ground. Get good at that and you can ride around cities without ever touching the floor.
5. Obey the rules
Now you’d hope that this next one would go without saying, but you do see it from time to time. Some cyclists not obeying the rules, running red lights, or maybe just riding where they shouldn’t. Now we can sympathize with why somebody would think that that might be okay, but we disagree. Please don’t be one of those riders, you’ve got a responsibility to other road users, and particularly your fellow cyclists. Not to mention there could be considerable consequences, for if you don’t follow the rules. So please use your common sense and obey the law.
6. Enjoy your ride
It’s not all doom and gloom though, for me city cycling is still all about one thing. Yep, above all else, enjoy your ride. Going by bike is a fantastic way to explore the city, and a bicycle can take you further, faster, and to places that are otherwise inaccessible, by other means of transport. Yeah, going by bike is also a great way of adding some extra fitness into your cross-city journeys. You can cruise along gently, a bit like we are now, or you could race the traffic light Grand Prix: “Ready, Three, two, one!” Go!
Hopefully, you have found these city cycling tips useful.