Whether it's biking to work, classes, or even just to the grocery store, commuting can be a great way to save money on transit and stay fit and healthy while also reducing your impact on pollution in your area. But if you live in a big city, you might feel a little wary of making those trips on your bike. It's common to feel cautious or unconfident in your riding when faced with the chaos of city traffic but with a few tips, you can build up your confidence to conquer your ride.
Check out the following video by our friend Kelsey Leigh over at her YouTube channel and read on to learn her tips and tricks to increasing confidence in your city commute.
1. Make sure your bike is running smoothly
In order to increase your confidence commuting in a city environment, it is important to make sure that your equipment is running smoothly and without any issues. Every time you go out for a ride you should check that your bicycle is ready to go with the proper amount of air in the tires and components that are all tuned and working properly. If you don't have to worry about mechanical issues during your ride you'll be able to focus all of your energy on the road ahead of you and behind you for full 360-degree awareness.
Check out our pre-ride bike check guide for details on what to check each time you go for a ride.
2. Be Prepared
It is important that you are prepared with whatever safety equipment is necessary for you on your ride. This includes your helmet, bright lights if you're going to be riding during darker hours, and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and debris that might be flying around on a windy day.
You'll also need to make sure you check the weather before you leave so that you are dressed appropriately and can stay comfortable and maintain your focus. It is also great to wear bright colors for added visibility while you ride, or you can simply opt for brightly colored accessories like a helmet and a bag to place all your belongings in on your ride.
3. Map Out Your Route Ahead of Time
Mapping out your route before you go can help you reduce stress and ensure that you are in tune with the flow of the traffic. If you are just starting what will be a regular commute that you plan to take often, a good idea is to take a practice ride on a Saturday morning or Sunday when traffic is a little quieter and the roads aren't as hectic. This way you can have an easy relaxing ride to get used to your route.
4. Maintain Awareness of Your Surroundings
While you are riding, be sure to keep your head on a swivel and frequently employ the use of quick over the shoulder checks so you know what cars are behind you or in the next lane over. This is important information you need to know before switching your position in traffic or making a turn and is also a good way to let drivers know that you can see them and that you expect them to give you enough space.
5. Identify Possible Hazards in the Bike Lane
Keeping an eye on the road to identify potential problem spots in a bike lane is important. Just because you are riding in a painted cycling lane does not mean that they will be safe. It is important to be aware of what is happening all around you on your ride so that if you need to make an adjustment to avoid a potential hazard you will have plenty of time to do so.