Cycling in Traffic: The Dos and the Don’ts

cycling
cycling

We at Yo! Vizag have been advocating cycling for its innumerable benefits. Cycling is good, in fact great for one’s personal health and the environment, but at the same time, it can be quite hazardous on the city roads if traffic rules and general etiquette are ignored. While it is basic sense to ride a cycle on busy roads carefully; the spate of mishaps on the road makes one wonder, is bicycling dangerous? Are they any rules for bicycles on the roads? Generally motorists scan the road in front of them and on either side watching for other vehicles. They do not watch as carefully for pedestrians and neither do they anticipate fast-moving bicycles.

An analysis of bicycling accidents makes obvious a simple fact; cyclists are most safe when they operate their bicycles as vehicles, not as an extension of their legs. A bicycle is basically a two-wheeler moving on muscle power instead of fossil fuels. Hence, bicycle traffic laws are almost the same as those for motor vehicles. With few exceptions, bikes are required to come to a full stop at stop signs and red lights, to obey traffic signals, to ride with the flow of traffic, and so on.

Firstly, learn to cycle in a straight line. Being able to ride in a straight line under varying conditions is the key to riding safely in traffic. Riding in a straight line makes a cyclist predictable to other road users. Also practice cycling in a straight line while looking over the shoulders, both to the right and to the left. This is not easy at first, but it is a critically important skill in traffic. A mirror does not replace the need to shoulder check in any circumstances.

Always make hand signals well in advance of any turn. Since making a hand signal requires cycling with just one hand on the handlebars, practice doing that while maintaining a straight line. The proper turning sequence is: first shoulder check, then a hand signal, and then, with both hands on the handlebars, shoulder check again before making the turn or the stop. Unfortunately, police do not enforce traffic laws on cyclists, probably on the principle that only the cyclist is likely to be injured. But it is up to the common sense of the cyclist to observe these rules for their own safety. While they might sound obvious, it’s still good to have a checklist of dos and don’ts. 

A Few Guidelines for Biking Safety:

-Do not cycle on the road unless properly trained.

-Make sure there are reflectors on the front and back of the cycle.

-Keep the reflectors clean and do not paste stickers on them.

-Use a cycle basket if carrying anything on the cycle.

-Wear such clothes that do not get caught in the chain or wheels.

-Wear shoes/sandals while riding, slippers can slip from the pedals.

-Check the brakes.

-Wear a cycle helmet – it protects in case of an accident.

-Be visible – Make sure that other road users can see you easily. Preferably wear bright clothes.

-Avoid cycling in the dark. If unavoidable, wear bright or reflective clothes in the dark and doubly check that the reflectors are clean.

-Look behind before starting off, turning right or left, overtaking, or stopping and make sure it is safe.

-Obey traffic light signals.

-Give a clear arm signal to show what you intend to do.

-Always keep both hands on the handlebars unless giving a signal or changing gears.

-When turning, allow pedestrians to cross first because they have the right of way.

-Always give way to traffic coming from the right.

-Never hold another vehicle or cyclist.

-Ride one behind the other. Never ride more than two side by side even if there is no traffic.

-Ride at some distance from the edge of the road. The drains or gutters can imbalance the cycle.

-Do not wear a personal stereo or use a mobile phone whilst cycling. These devices affect one’s concentration and balance.

-Be careful if while overtaking parked vehicles, they might start off or someone might open the door.

-Be prepared for unexpected dangers.

-Pedestrians have the right of way. Stop for pedestrians at Zebra crossings.

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