Tips for Cycling in Traffic
Each day, thousands of cyclists take to the road for fitness, recreation and commuting. This information sheet outlines some recommended safety tips to practice when cycling in traffic.
Though many novice cyclists are intimidated by motor vehicles, the secret to safe and confident riding is knowing how to become a natural part of the traffic flow. Following the rules of the road makes your riding predictable, and if drivers can predict what you'll do, there's much less chance they'll hit you.
Cyclists should first become proficient in basic handling skills such as shifting gears, stopping smoothly, turning rapidly and scanning behind quickly for overtaking traffic without swerving. Empty parking lots and quiet residential streets are good places to practice these skills.
Useful tips to follow
1. Always remember to:
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.
- 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!
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.