5 Ways to Cycle Safely in the City


Act Like a Car

Most cities require bikers to ride on the streets along with cars, motorcycles, Vespas, horse- drawn carriages and the like, rather than on sidewalks, which -- as the name suggests -- are made for walkers. When a bike joins traffic, the bike is traffic. A smart, safe biker knows this and acts like it [source: NYC Dept of Transportation].

That means claiming a space on the street where drivers and other bikers can see you. Fortunately, many well-traveled streets are equipped with bike lanes or at least offer a shoulder wide enough to accommodate cyclists. Just make sure to stay far enough away from parked cars; an unexpectedly opened door is for bikers the equivalent of a deer that jaunts out onto a dimly lit country road. If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane to make your presence known and prevent motorists from attempting to pass [sources: California Department of Motor Vehicles, Transportation Alternatives].

Just as cars are expected to stay in lanes and avoid weaving in and out of traffic, so should cyclists maintain their lanes and act predictably. Make like a car, and ride in the direction of traffic. As tempting as it is to pedal on through red lights and stop signs, shimmy between stopped vehicles and pull a "u-ey" at the first sign of congestion, the rules of the road are intended for all who travel it, whether behind the wheel of pick-up truck, straddling a Harley, or at the helm of a Schwinn with the wind at your back [source: Transportation Alternatives].