New York has the heaviest bicycle traffic of any city in the country. If you're speeding down the road alongside motor vehicles weighing a couple tons each, a collision could devastate your life. It's important to know how to ride your bicycle defensively on city roads.
In today's post, we discuss some key tips for a safe bike commute:
- Find safe riding spaces. New York is loaded with bike paths, bike lanes and greenways. Take these routes whenever possible--to avoid motor vehicle traffic altogether.
- Beware of stopped vehicles. If you see a car parked or stopped at the side of the road, always be prepared for a door to open into traffic. To help avoid colliding with an opening door, be alert to signals that a driver or passenger may be exiting--e.g., an illuminated taxi vacancy light or a passenger rocking back and forth in preparation to scoot out.
- Beware of right turns. One of the most common--and disastrous--types of bicycle collisions involves a car turning right in front of a cyclist without noticing them. To help avoid becoming the victim of another driver's distraction, plan ahead each time you approach an intersection. Carefully merge to the left, so that you're situated between the right-turn lane and the lane for through traffic.
- Anticipate pedestrian behavior. If a pedestrian crosses the street in front of you--only to notice you quickly approaching at the last minute--their instinct will usually be to dart forward. Therefore, always swerve behind startled pedestrians to help avoid an accident.
- Make your signals conspicuous. When you're indicating to other drivers what you're planning to do, make it big. Using just a hand signal can be easily missed. Instead, use the rest of your body to your advantage. Look over your shoulder and make eye contact with the driver. Make your acceleration obvious by standing out of your seat and stomping on the pedals. The more you can do to draw attention to yourself, the better.
Sharing the road with motor vehicles and pedestrians can be risky if you're unsure of how to maneuver among the many moving parts. Following these tips can help to ensure you reach your destination safely.