Surviving the Urban Journey: Tips for City Cycling
Potholes, aggressive drivers and exhausting inclines: These are just some of the pesky hurdles that can put a damper on city cycling. In fact, they are some of the main reasons why many people avoid riding their bikes altogether. The costs of car ownership and environmental impact should be enough to make everyone a convert. But the truth is, the concept of urban cycling is terrifying for many people -- even for bike enthusiasts who have been riding their whole lives.
City cycling is an enjoyable experience that will bring efficiency (and exercise!) into your daily commute. So read on for our survival tips on staying safe in the urban jungle!
Remember: You’re a Cyclist
When headed for the office on a Monday morning, don’t assume the best route for a driver is also the best one for you. Cars have no problem going down a steep hill or keeping up with traffic in highly congested areas. Just because one circuit is great for a driver, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the safest for an urban cyclist.
Prior to heading out, research some alternate routes. Look at your city’s bike network and maximize use of this invaluable infrastructure. In other words, see how much of it you can use to get to your destination -- before you’re forced to merge into regular traffic. Also, use applications like Google Maps to determine how much congestion you’ll hit. If you’re new to urban cycling, avoid high-traffic areas until you’re more comfortable -- even if it means going the long way.
Be Confident But Not Cocky
Sure, there are tons of aggressive drivers that aren’t paying attention. And even some that loathe cyclists. But this doesn’t mean it must be war on the roads. Careless drivers cause many bike accidents. But many are also triggered by a cyclist’s cockiness. Stay confident, firm and aware of your surroundings: But avoid being presumptuous. Getting into confrontations and contests with drivers only puts you in danger. Learn to be the ‘bigger person’ and pedal away from these situations. At the end of the day, the driver is in a heavily-fortified vehicle. And we’re on precarious bicycles highly-sensitive to external elements. Keep things in perspective. It’s just not worth the risk.
Don’t Be Embarrassed to Walk the Bike
There is no shame in walking your bike when you feel unsafe. If you come to a steep slope or cannot safely share the road with merging cars, remember your ‘hybrid’ status. That’s the beauty of urban cycling. Walk your bike on the sidewalk for a good distance until you’re comfortable enough to rejoin traffic.
Learn How to Lock It Up
There’s nothing more painful than stepping out of your office or the grocery store, only to find your bicycle is gone. Bike theft is a huge problem in some of North America’s biggest cities because of their value on the resale market. Don’t assume your ride is safe because you’ve secured the main framework with a chain. Back in 2012, ‘lifehacker’ published a great guide on the proper way to lock up your bike. Several years later, it’s still the best tutorial out there.
Keep It Light & Simple
A bulky bike with tons of features is not necessary on city roads. It’ll not only slow you down, but your legs will hurt as you pedal around all that weight. Opt for an uncomplicated bike that isn’t meant for country riding. All you need is something light with a small rack (for a few groceries!).That’s why a 3-speed city bike is your best companion. At Regal, these beauties are about $435.00. They’re probably the best investment you’ll ever make. Light and simple, these bikes will get you around the city -- without weighing you down. Some of Regal’s Classic Fixies & Single-Speed Bikes are even lighter at just 11-12 kilograms!