5 Tips for Safer Riding Through Traffic
There is nothing quite like cycling for that feeling of freedom and sense of achievement it brings. When you finish a long ride, gain personal bests, and achieve more than what you thought you could it is one of the best experiences you can have.
The experience is changed considerably if you have an accident. As such, you need to take particular care when negotiating a ride through traffic.
In this article, we look at the best approaches to take when riding through traffic.
Plan Traffic Free Routes
Where possible traffic should be avoided. This can be achieved by cycling at times of day when traffic is light or planning a route that takes you through quiet roads.
If you decide to cycle early mornings, ensure you and your bike are adequately lit and you’re wearing high viz clothing. If you’re planning quieter routes, look at maps, Strava, and cycling route planning apps to discover the quieter roads. We’ve written an article about planning local cycle routes and you may want to check it out: 7 Tips for Finding Great Local Cycle Training Routes
Ensure Your Road Positioning is On Point
Ensure you do not cycle too close to the kerb. By doing this you avoid drains and debris that tend to collect in the gutter and your ride should be smoother, protecting the bike. Road positioning is more than just avoiding the kerb. Consider:
- Overtaking parked cars can be a little risky as an opening car door can catch you by surprise. Ensure you leave enough room to avoid this.
- Sometimes you have to ride in the middle of the lane rather than off to the side. This comes into play where roads narrows, making it dangerous for a car to overtake you. Examples include traffic calming measures built out from the side of the road, or pedestrian refuges. Riding in the middle of the lane is called ‘taking the lane’ or ‘primary position’. Use your judgement and watch for these unsafe situations.
- You should always make your intentions clear when cycling through traffic and make eye contact with drivers. This turns you into a human being and they’ll tend to show you respect. Remember, respect has to work both ways.
Build up Your Awareness
When a car hits a pothole it makes a nasty bump and the car keeps going. When we cyclists hit one disaster can strike. As such, it is vital you are aware of what is happening around you. To this end, look ahead so you can avoid aspects such as drain covers, potholes, and the like.
Once you start looking ahead and avoiding potential hazardous riding conditions, you’ll find that your awareness improves at junctions and roundabouts.
Be Aware of Trucks
It is important to understand that many lorries have blind spots on their passenger side. This can put you at serious risk. Many a cyclist has suffered serious injury because a truck has made a turn to its passenger side and the driver has been oblivious that the cyclist was alongside.
This can be a particular problem when a lorry overtakes you but has to stop at the lights. Here, they may not realise you have pulled up alongside. In these instances, it is better to hang back and let the lorry progress when the lights change, or pull ahead of the truck and try and ensure the driver acknowledges your presence.
Keep Your Hands on the Brakes
It is a good rule of thumb to keep your hands on the brakes in case you need to stop. On a road bike, your hands will be on the brakes by design. As an extra precaution, you may want to ride a little slower to give you a chance to react.
With a little common sense and practice, you’ll be fine riding through traffic.
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