7 safety guidelines that every urban cyclist should know


Every day more cyclists join mobility in cities, and it would be great to be able to ride a bike all day without worrying about dying in the attempt or, at best, without being intimidated by some angry motorist who puts our Safety at risk, however, is a reality that in most of the trips we make we have to pay full attention to cars if we want to get home safely. The truth is that as urban cyclists, we not only depend on motorists to ride peacefully through the city, there is a lot that bike users can do – in addition to following the rules and not driving like crazy – to keep us safe during our transfers by bicycle and enjoy the many benefits that our active mobility practice has for our health, economy, and city.

Photo: Ledevoir

So, let’s stop the absurd fight with motorists for space in the streets, take the handlebar on both sides and direct our bike to a safe road that we ourselves will facilitate with these 7 safety guidelines that will provide you with certainty. ride a bike through your city. Before you begin, you should be clear that there are concepts such as driving skills, use common sense, respect traffic rules, and know at least repair a puncture, which is essential for your rides to be safe and pleasant.

1. One eye to the cat and another to the scribble (stay tuned for traffic at all times)

It is estimated that at least 70% of collisions involving cyclists and motorists occur at intersections and crossings, but within this percentage, there are a large number of cases that occur due to carelessness of both parties. So being aware of the road is already half the security. Before entering any intersection or driving through a crossroads, verify both directions of the street that they are safe to travel. When driving on the right lane, be sure to verify -constantly- that this desperate motorist who passed you meters before will not lose your way because he wants to turn -from the second lane- right on the street you are going to cross. While pedaling and without losing the straight line, do not forget to regularly look over your shoulder – backward – to prevent a car from keeping a safe distance from you, or that some clueless driver puts you in imminent danger.

Photo: Weelz

Claim the best position on the road: good positioning is about pedaling in the best place where you can see and, above all, be seen. When you drive where there is no infrastructure for the bicycle, it circulates through the center of the low-speed lane and, personally, I recommend that you drive more stuck to the left of the lane than in the center, but never on your extreme right. By driving in that way in the lane, you will provide enough space to avoid collisions with cars that turn right, in addition to making your presence more visible to motorists.

2. Stay away from car doors

The only way to avoid a bang is to get ahead of that action and be aware that in many cases motorists are indifferent to others and will open the door just when you pass by. Keep your distance from the doors of parked cars, and in areas of vehicular traffic where they stop in a double row, always stay as far away as possible from those parked cars, since at any time the car driver will open the door.

Photo: Spiegel

3. Watch out for the pecerdo (all public transport is a potential danger)

I mean, it is not because it is prejudiced, but public transport operators, whatever the type of their unit (minibus, bus, taxi, or others), have struggled to earn the reputation of being savages behind the wheel. Getaway as soon as possible, never overflow them on the right because at any moment they will stop to get on or off the passage, closing your way and, if you let them corner you towards the sidewalk reducing your space to maneuver. Remember that buses, micros, and cars have blind spots: high-risk areas for a cyclist to pedal or stay close to the vehicle since the driver’s vision is void, any carelessness can culminate in the cyclist’s death due to a run-over. Stay away from them.

Photo: Ledevoir

4. Exaggerate body language and make eye contact

If you don’t want to call it that, don’t do it, but when you ride a bike through the streets of the city, think you’re performing a choreography: a dance where you and your bike are one, and the street with motorists is your clumsy couple to which you must mark each of your movements in advance so that you do not step on it. For example, plan your lane or direction changes by pointing not only with your hand, but with your whole body – bend slightly, make yourself noticed – look at your partner – street and cars – from top to bottom, if possible make eye contact either by its rearview mirror or directly with the driver of the car near you, and throw yourself in the direction you have decided, but always making sure that you have been seen by motorists.

Caring for the most vulnerable

Very well, you already have a notion of how to avoid some dangers in the roads, and now you have to take care of those who are more vulnerable than you. Yes, there are, and they are the pedestrians, let them pass at all times as distracted and exasperating as they may seem.

Photo: Dominique Leriche

5. Pass behind pedestrians, not in front of them

That’s right, it has happened to me, and surely to you too: the pedestrian has already ventured almost above you and it is not possible to slow down and much less stop. Well, not everything is lost, apply the simple maneuver of passing behind them and not in front, because a natural instinct of the pedestrian will be to jump forward trying to prevent you from ramming it away from the problems, instead of stopping and backing . When you ride your bike through the space behind the pedestrians, you will leave no room for any doubt, and so you, you will avoid a bigger problem and help the pedestrian to get rid of it. That way everyone will continue on their way.

Photo: L´Aisne Nouvelle

6. Cycleways, sidewalks, confined lanes of public transport, how do you drive through them?

Many people and not only users of public bicycles assume that the sidewalks are safe to ride a bike because they put a certain distance between them and cars. Actually, sidewalks are not a good place to ride a bike, and in some cities it is illegal. Try to avoid them at all costs unless you have no choice and, in that case, disassemble and walk with the bike to the side.

In the bicycle lanes, bicycles are supposed to have the right of way, but in many cases the sidewalk is so narrow or invaded by street trade that, pedestrians are in need of walking through them, so be patient and above all tolerant, avoid incidents with pedestrians, try to warn them of your presence – without shouting or being aggressive – and give them their way. In the exclusive lanes of public transport: do not drive under any circumstances, in addition to being prohibited, how you intend to be respected if you do not respect.

Photo: Radio Canada

7. Cycling around large vehicles (trucks and buses)

From your bike you can see most of the cars, but do not let this ease of vision give you a false sense of security, because motorists and especially public transport operators will not see you with the same ease with which you You see them.

First of all, never assume that the bus operator is watching you, the most likely thing is that he is distracted charging the ticket, trying to beat the passengers to the bus from behind or, just thinking about something less if there is a cyclist near the.

Never go ahead or pass on the right to the truck, buses usually circulate near the sidewalk to pick up tickets. So in areas where you see or know that there are people waiting for the bus, it is best to drive in the next lane next to it.

Also remember that microbuseros usually circulate on two lanes at the same time, so always expect to be closed at any time, whether or not there is a ticket to pick up, operators are unpredictable, be smarter and do not become a victim.

Photo: Weelz

If you have to drive on the side of the bus, try pedaling within the viewing angle of the rearview mirror (if you can see the driver’s face in the mirror is the correct angle).

Before changing lanes, always look back and if you go ahead of the truck I recommend that you go at least 3.5 meters ahead, if you cannot put this distance between you, make yourself visible: raise your hand constantly so that I can see you and never but never, let the truck hit you to the right of the lane, always circulate in the center of the lane.

Once you are clear about the aforementioned aspects, ensuring your safety in your shots will be easier than you think. Hey, before you finish, don’t forget that you should never let your guard down even on confined roads (bike lanes), stay alert and enjoy your city by bike.

Do you have any guidelines that you find useful and have not mentioned? Share it in the comments with the cycling community.

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