Cycling in the Urban Jungle? Three Things to Consider
Experienced cyclists in most big North American cities will tell you two things: one, biking is the best, most efficient way to get around, and two, it can be quite dangerous.
In fact, most cities don’t have an extensive network of bike lanes, and drivers often encroach on cyclists’ space or open their doors without looking. But it’s not all one-sided; many cyclists either don’t know – or ignore – the rules of the road.
Want to bike happily and safely in big cities? Consider the following:
Think like a driver
Cyclists still have to follow the laws and the etiquette of the road. Safe-driving behavior – stopping fully at stop signs, signaling, yielding, and looking around you – apply to cycling too.
Respect your fellow cyclists
Leapfrogging other cyclists, following too closely, and not giving plenty of notice of turns or stops can all cause accidents that could send you and other riders flying onto the curb, or worse, into vehicle traffic.
Take up your space
As Andrew Small noted in a recent CityLab article, cyclists have the right to a lane even though they’re slower. It’s safer because “… it gives a bike much more visibility to drivers.” If cyclists hug curbs or stick close to parked cars, they’re putting themselves in harm’s way. But note: while this is true in most jurisdictions, there may be exceptions, and regardless, many drivers find this hard to swallow, which may put cyclists at further risk.
Mutual respect is the answer. So, as the yellow road signs suggest: Share the Road.