How comfortable are you riding your bike in street and in traffic? Would you like to be more comfortable? This short article will offer a few tips and resources to be more confident cycling in traffic.
According to the founders of CyclingSavvy, Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson, “…fear of cycling in traffic is the greatest hindrance to cycling and bicycle transportation.” However, CyclingSavvy teaches that “Bicycling in traffic is safe and easy. It does not require athleticism, speed or bravery. Successful bicycling does require a basic understanding of traffic dynamics and a belief in one’s equal right to the road.” (Quotes credited to CyclingSavvy.org)
So how does one get started? Plan ahead and map out a route that you are comfortable with. Consider the time of day and weather. Some roads that are very busy during rush hours have much less traffic at other times. I often choose streets with less traffic because it is more pleasant for me. Check out the following traffic principles and confident cycling “do’s.”
Traffic principles to understand and follow when biking:
- Always ride the same direction as traffic.
- First come, first served.
- Yield to traffic before entering a road.
- Yield to overtaking traffic when changing lanes.
- Obey all traffic control devices.
- Ride as far to the right as is practicable (possible and also safe for you), but also
- “Take the lane” or “ride big” whenever you need to for your safety.
Confident Cycling “do’s” :
- Be aware of your surroundings: Scan for road hazards and always stay aware of other road users and pedestrians.
- Be visible, “ride big.”
- Be predictable, communicate (by signalling turns and using head movements, eye contact and bike positioning) with other road users.
- Avoid the “Door Zone”: In general never ride closer than 3 feet to parked cars (an extended arms length). This can mean riding on the left edge or even outside of a designated bike lane.
- Understand how traffic flows in the areas where you will ride.
Resources related to confident cycling:
- Cycles for Change will offer a “Street Skills” class 9/22 at our MPLS location. Also check out local Slow Roll Twin Cities rides every Thursday, co-sponsored by Cycles for Change.
- The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota has a calendar listing a variety of Confident Cycling classes here.
- The League of American Bicyclists, CyclingSavvy, sharetheroadmn and the bicycling page on the City of Minneapolis website are all locations to find out more about confident cycling in traffic.
- Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy your ride! This is an important advantage of traveling by bicycle, right?