My Travels

7 Tips for Riding a Bicycle in a Busy City

To the uninitiated, riding a bicycle in a busy city could be a nightmare. While you might need cold-blooded guts to ride a bicycle in a city like Delhi, India’s capital, it can still be a challenge to ride a bicycle in more organized western cities. You can, however, get around by adhering to the following tips.

1. Be Confident

The hustle and bustle of busy towns mean one thing: you have to fight for your space on the road if you are to get anywhere. This is not the time or place to be timid; and even if you are, don’t let your actions show it, otherwise, everyone would gleefully jostle you out of the way. However, being bold and unafraid does not mean you should twist and turn, swerve in and out of traffic. This can only make things worse for the cyclist behind you. Being confident simply means you are steadily pedalling in harmony with rest of the traffic.

2. Overtake Cyclists on the Lane’s Far Edge

Always overtake on the left, just as you would with an automobile unless you are in a country where they drive on the left. Trying to overtake on the wrong side could bring you into a not-so-exciting contact with another cyclist attempting to zoom past you.

3. Always Lock Your Bicycle

The sale of city bicycles and bicycle parts is a lucrative business in some busy cities. While everyone may look innocent and unlikely to pinch your bike, do not take the chance. If you are not with your bike, make sure it’s locked; and locking does not just mean throwing a lock around the top tube. If you can, secure most of the bike components with a chain or skewers.

4. Choose a Light Bike

If you are looking for a bike to cruise around a busy town, avoid the heavier ones, however impressive and attractive they may be. They will not only slow you down, but they are likely to hurt your legs, a lot. While you may miss the gears of a heavy bike when going up or down a hill, it is easy to cycle a single geared bike in a busy city.

5. Make a Mental Note of Where the Potholes Are

Roads frequented by heavy-duty trucks are likely to have potholes. You will need to note in your mind where these potholes are to avoid crashing your front wheel into them. This would most likely hurt your bike and propel you forward in a fashion you had not anticipated.

6. Acquaint Yourself with Local Bike Shops

However gentle you are on your handlebars, you cannot predict the unexpected. While you may have inspected your tubes (the bike’s, that is), there is no telling what could pinch and leave them flat. You may even have started with a slow leak that was not initially noticeable. Knowing where to go when such misfortunes happen literally keeps you on the road.

7. Watch out for Pedestrians

In busy cities, everyone is simply trying to do their best to get to their destination. A jaywalking pedestrian may suddenly step onto your lane, forcing you to swerve into the full lane; and all you can do at this split-second time is to pray that no car would be anywhere near. Always anticipate pedestrians’ walking behaviour and leave an adequate buffer zone between you and that pedestrian walking near the edge of the sidewalk.

Although riding a bicycle in a busy city is not for the faint-hearted, these tips can help you get around with minimal inconveniences. However, should you find yourself in a ditch, literally, don’t panic; it could have been worse. Just get up, dust-up, and carry on. Well, you might have to carry the bike as well.

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