How to Cycle Safely on City Roads
Cycling on city roads is more dangerous than country biking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 71% of fatal bicycle accidents worldwide occur in urban areas.
You might be wondering–how are properly constructed roads more dangerous than trails in the countryside? The answer–is other road users.
Most cycling accidents are road collisions with other road users, especially with larger vehicles. If you're a regular commuter cyclist, you must know how to cycle safely.
1. Buy the right bicycle
The first thing you have to do to ensure your safety on city roads is getting a good commuter bike. While mountain bikes tend to look more durable and sturdy than commuter bikes, they can cause more harm than good when used on city roads.
Mountain bikes are made for trails and uneven terrains; they are designed with high suspension and increased agility. High suspension bikes are prone to instability when used on city roads, while high agility bikes can give you difficulty when riding uphill or downhill.
The lightweight and thin-framed designs of commuter bikes are perfect for city cycling. They will allow you to cross narrow paths and avoid other road users without accidents.
2. Get safety biking accessories
The top safety biking accessories for city riding are helmets and bike lights.
No cyclists should go out on any roads without a helmet, whether in the city or not. It's the best way to protect yourself from any fatal road injuries.
On the other hand, bike lights are your best tool to get road visibility–even on roads full of other motorists. Recent research states that bike lights can reduce road collisions by 58%, especially brake lights.
More and more cities worldwide require cyclists to get a white front light and a red rear light for complete road visibility. For city cycling, it's best to have a front light with at least 200 lumens and a rear light with at least 50 lumens. This range will allow you to traverse both well-lit and dark roads in the city safely.
3. Check the mirrors of other vehicles
Here's a simple but fool-proof rule when riding alongside larger vehicles: if you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you.
The vehicles' side mirrors should be on your eye level. Say you're driving beside a 10-wheeler truck. If you look straight into the road, your eyes can't be on the same level as their mirrors. That means they can't see you, and you have to move away from them.
Aside from using bike lights, it's crucial to position yourself on the road where other drivers can see you.
4. Stay away from gutters
It would be best to ride either on the designated bike lane or slightly in the middle of the road, never near a gutter or a curb crawl.
Gutters or curb crawl areas tend to be the most uneven parts of the road because of their exposure to water. The tiniest steep curb on the street can cause sudden imbalance and difficulty in maneuvering, which may cause fatal road collisions.
5. Don't box yourself between large vehicles
Last but not least, avoid going in between larger vehicles. Don't box yourself.
When on the road, don't place yourself without an apparent exit. Even though these are small cars, getting boxed between them will give you less mobility. Should one of them make an unexpected turn, they'll squeeze you.
Furthermore, always remember that larger vehicles make bigger turns and stopping distances. So always keep a considerable distance from them.
These are just a few safety measures that you have to observe when going riding through the cities. Keep them in mind when going to your work with your favorite bicycle!