Safer City Riding

There are times that even the most dedicated dirt rider will find themselves pedaling on pavement, whether its heading out on our Holiday Lights Route, riding to and from the trailhead or running errands on two wheels,

Many mountain bikers feel intimidated riding in traffic, but there are several things you can do to boost your confidence and make your ride safer. A few months ago, we talked about the Rules of the Road in this column, addressing how to ride safely and legally with traffic (remember here).

Here are more ways to make city riding safer:

1) Lights, lights, baby: During daylight hours, run a bright red tail light at a minimum. Also consider using a front light (white only), especially if you plan to ride at night as well.

2) Look for bike lanes. Use Google Maps’ cycling mode to map safe routes that include bike paths, green lanes and streets with good bike infrastructure. Popular cycling routes can also be found on Strava Heatmaps.

3) Wear high-viz clothing. Fluorescent colors help cyclists stand out during the day, reflective hits on clothing, shoes, etc. make riders more visible in low light and in the dark.

4) Have an exit. Avoid riding into situations where you do not have a clear exit, especially when approaching red lights in slow moving traffic. Don’t let yourself get trapped between vehicles, and also be careful around large trucks, which have significant blind spots.

5) Mirror awareness. If you can’t see a car’s mirrors, you are in its blind spot and the driver can’t see you.

6) Assume car doors will open. Be extra careful when riding next to parked cars. Ride as far from them as you safely can, and look for movement inside the car so you can be ready in case the door opens.