Bicycle (18721)Cycling is a great way to get around the city, whether you're a commuter, sight seeing, or riding for exercise. However city streets can sometimes be daunting to anyone unfamiliar with them. Here are ten tips to keep your wheels turning smoothly!

Things You Will Need

A bicycle, obviously!
A bell.
Flat fixing equipment.
Lights if you're riding at night.
A helmet!

Step 1

Do not ride in the door zone!

Most streets reserve the outside lane for parked cars with the bike lane just inside of it. If you ride too close to the parked cars, eventually someone will be in the car you're passing and will open the door right in front of you. You will not have time to get out of the way. You may think you can just look inside the cars for anyone getting ready to get out-this is a flawed strategy. There are too many other things you need to be watching, especially in busy city streets. Make it easy on yourself and ride towards the outside of the bike lane at all times. Or, if you need to, ride in the traffic lane. Remember, you have the right to ride with traffic.

Step 2

Wait at green lights.

You've been waiting at a red light. The light changes and is now green. Look left! People run yellow and red lights all the time. Make sure no one is trying to beat the light before you enter the intersection.

Step 3

Get a bell.

Yeah, bike bells sound dorky and they get made fun of, but there really is no better way to alert pedestrians that a bike is coming up on them. Raising your voice or shouting will likely confuse (or even startle) them-they don't know if you're a bike or just some weirdo shouting--but they know what a bike bell means.

Step 4

Give crossers a wide berth.

Pedestrians waiting to cross the street will step out into the street as soon as they get that white signal. You, being on a bike, will take longer to get through the intersection than the cars, making you arrive at the crosswalk at the same time as the pedestrians start stepping off the curb. They will not look or see you. Give them a wide berth and ring your bell-maybe they'll start looking before they cross.

Step 5

Don't ride in a car's blind spot.

You may think that cars driving beside you see you. This is not true. If they want to turn right, they can very easily cut you off, or even run you over. Don't ride beside cars if you can avoid it.

Step 6

Watch those rails.

Some city streets have rails embedded in the pavement for trolleys. The gap between the rail and the road is just the right size for the trolley wheel-and your bike tire! Your front tire will go over fine (you have more control of it via the handlebars), but it will grab your back tire and pull your bike out from under you. This scenario is even more likely when the rails are wet. If you don't want to end up on the pavement in the middle of the street, ride over at a 45 degree angle (or bunny hop).

Step 7

Equip your bike with lights.

If you do any riding at dusk or after dark, you need to make yourself visible to traffic. All you need is a white blinky light up front and a red blinky light in the rear. You can easily attach the front light to your handlebars and the rear light to your seat post or saddlebag. Don't have a saddlebag? See below. If you do any riding on dark streets you may also need a headlight up front so you can see. Make sure it's aimed so it doesn't blind oncoming cars.

Step 8

Be prepared to fix a flat.

All the tools you need for this will fit in a saddlebag that you can attach under your seat. You'll need a few tire levers, a spare tube, and a means to inflate your tire. You can either carry a frame pump or a CO2 cartridge. I prefer a CO2 cartridge because it's very light weight and much faster than using a frame pump. Just remember you usually only get one use pre cartridge, so carry a spare. You can also bring a patch kit, but it's faster to just switch out the tube for a new one and mend the punctured tube when you get home. You're local bike shop will gladly show you how to fix a flat if you've never done it before. Ride enough and eventually you're going to get a flat. Carry these tools and you'll never have to walk your bike home. Walking really, really sucks.

Step 9

Be a courteous cyclist.

Yes, drivers can be extremely rude at times, even downright hostile. Take the higher ground. If you sink to their level, not only are you giving a bad name to all cyclists, you're starting a fight you can't win. Fights between drivers and cyclists usually don't end well for the cyclist. Cars are bigger and heavier than your bike. Leave it be and ride another day.

Step 10

Wear a helmet.

This shouldn't have to be said, but some people are reluctant. Pavement is harder than your skull. Enough said.

Biking in the city is not all that dangerous. It's an excellent way to get fit and save gas in the process. Be aware of your surroundings, keep these tips in mind, and most importantly, have a great ride!

Tips & Warnings