If you’ve not ridden in a while, getting back on your bike might be a little bit intimidating, but the truth is that cycling is a safe endeavor. It’s certainly safer than driving, and by a long shot.
The best way to begin is to take a moment to plan your route. Most cities have trip planning websites available, with maps outlining which streets have protected bike lanes, and which are designated bike routes. Or better yet, just drop by Bike Doctor, and we’ll give you a free map to reference whenever you might need it. Use it often! Vancouver has a great, growing network of bike lanes and routes which are wonderful fun to use and explore.
Many cities around the world have begun to embrace separated bike lanes, because they are a proven, fiscally conservative investment with easily measured benefits. They improve public health, benefit the neighborhood businesses, and reduce traffic congestion, all for a relatively small capital outlay. Bike routes are the next best alternative, with less motor vehicle traffic, and slower speed limits for safer travel.
But no matter where you ride, you have the right to be on the road, and you’ll find that most drivers are courteous and respectful of cyclists. As a general rule of thumb, a motorist will typically give you as much space as you take for yourself, so don’t ride so close to the curb that you haven’t any room to maneuver. Take a couple of feet, and you’ll find you have that much room on the other side, too. And when you’re beside a row of parked cars, make sure that you stay out of the door zone, just in case someone opens their door in front of you without shoulder-checking. If there are a number of parked cars, and then a space without cars, don’t weave in and out of the cars in an attempt to give passing motorists more room to pass quickly. Hold your line to ensure that you remain visible to the motorists in the lane behind you.
Be a good citizen. Make sure that your intentions are clear. Signal your changes in direction with ample time to spare, so that drivers can prepare for your move. Make eye contact, and obey the rules of the road. It’s simple, really.
Public roadways really are meant for all of us to share. Cycling is a great way to get around, a choice which benefits everyone. Common sense cycling etiquette will make it easier for us to all get along on our journeys through town.