Getting comfortable with traffic

Surprise facts

Not as dangerous as it looks

Bicycling in traffic isn’t as scary as it looks from the sidewalk. Bicyclists don’t usually get hit by motorists from behind—one of the most common fears. Cyclists do get into trouble when they don’t act like the other vehicles around them—namely, cars.

Not as dangerous

You already know how

Because you probably know how to drive a car, you already know how to get through traffic. You just have to apply this knowledge to bicycling.

You’ve already taken bigger risks

Bigger risks

More bike crashes happen on off-street paths than in traffic. Why? On paths, people bike next to walkers, runners, skaters, skate-boarders, dogs, and small children.

 

 


How to learn

PracticePractice

At first, biking next to two-ton hunks of metal (cars) scares most people. How do you get over it? Walk or drive your bike to a quiet parking lot and ride around. Ride down rows of cars, getting closer and closer. When you get within four feet of a line of cars, practice looking inside the cars. Look for people who might open doors or pull out in front of you. Then practice following cars through the lot. When you’re ready, repeat these steps on a quiet side street.

Know your bikeGet to know your bike

You might not ever need these skills, but knowing how your bike performs will build your confidence. Learn how small a space your bike will fit through by riding between objects, such as parked cars or sign poles. Do this until you can judge spaces on sight.


Test brakesTake it easy!

Remember that on a street, you either share the lane (cars pass next to you) or take the lane (you ride in the middle, and cars stay behind you or pass in another lane). If a street’s not wide enough for you to share safely, and taking the lane scares you, stay off that street—at least until you feel more comfortable. Riding behind an experienced partner can help.

Share laneShare the lane

Take the laneTake the lane

Learn how well your brakes work: go fast, then try to stop within 10 feet. Then try to stop within six feet, then three feet, then one. Also see how quickly you can speed up from a stop.


Communicating with your hands and head

I'm Turning
I'm turning

I'm Slowing
I'm slowing

I'm going there
I'm going there

Wait!
Wait!

Go ahead!
Go ahead

 

 Copyright © 2003 by Wordspace Press. Learn more from the source: Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips.

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