Tips for Cycling in Traffic
Cycling in traffic can seem daunting for even the most experienced of riders. Although many cyclists may feel intimidated by motor vehicles, a few simple tips to help increase your awareness will help you feel much more confident and become a natural part of the flow of traffic.
Taking the time to practice your bike handling skills is important to ensure that when you enter traffic, you are able to make clear and confident decisions and follow them through. If you don't feel confident, take some time to practice riding on bike paths or in parks until you feel ready. It's OK to be cautious on the roads but there's no reason to be afraid of them provided you stay alert and aware of yourself and others.
Useful tips to follow:
1. Always remember to:
Plan your maneuver well before you perform it
Scan behind you to ensure it is safe
Signal you intentions to other road users (e.g. use hand signals)
Scan for who to give way to, and for who should give way to you!
2. Riding predictably is essential. How you ride will have a large impact on how other road users treat you. Be consistent, communicate with other road users both vehicles and pedestrians and most importantly obey the road rules. A bicycle is a vehicle and hence has the same rights and responsibilities on the road as a car or motorbike.
3. Try to make eye contact with other road users to sure they've seen you.
4. Assume you are invisible. In some situations, like a car turning in front of you--it is a wise to pretend the driver has not seen you. Plan in advance how you'll avoid that driver. Can you stop in time? If not, slow down and figure how you'll steer out of the way.
5. Where to look - As you ride you have to avoid two kinds of things: Hazards on the ground right in front of you, and cars and pedestrians ahead and on either side. So you should always know how both the ground and the traffic around you look. To do this, get into the habit of looking first at the ground five to 10 metres in front of you, then up at traffic, then back down at the ground. At first this will seem hard -- maybe even strange -- but with practice you'll do it without thinking.
6. Choose the best way to turn safely. Either turn right like a motorist, by scanning behind, signaling right, and turning from the right lane. Or do a hook turn (see diagram below). A hook turn is often a make safer option in busy traffic. It may take slightly longer but remember your safety is worth a couple of extra minutes.
7. Be visible. At night time, wear reflective clothing and use a good quality headlight and tail-light. During daytime, wear brightly colored clothing to ensure you are visible to other road users.
8. Always wear an approved helmet.
9. Ride with your hands ready to brake at all times.
10. Never, ever ride against the traffic. It is illegal and very dangerous.
11. Ride in the middle of narrow lanes. If there isn't enough space for a car to pass you safely, you have a legal right as a cyclist to take the full lane.