Avoiding Cars While Cycling
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom you get when you’re cycling down a quiet road, the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. But you can’t ignore the fact that a car could come roaring by at any time.
Enjoy Your Time Riding Safely
For better or worse, bikes and cars need to share the road with each other. Cycling on busy roads can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know how to stay safe. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to avoid cars while cycling so you can enjoy your time riding safely.
Stay Away From Heavy Traffic
You usually have a choice of many potential routes for a given ride. One of the easiest ways to avoid cars is to stay away from areas with heavy traffic, such as main arteries. If you can, try to ride on quiet side streets or paths that don’t see a lot of cars. This way, you won’t have to worry about dodging traffic and can focus on enjoying the ride.
Rush hour (typically around 8 am and 5 pm, give or take) is especially dangerous. Always take note of the time so that you can avoid cycling during rush hour. Riding during busy hours means more cars on the road, so plan your route accordingly.
Of course, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re commuting to work or running errands. In these cases, you’ll need to be extra careful and take precautions to stay safe. Always try to find the safest route that has the least amount of traffic, even if it means taking a longer route. Sometimes, it’s much more worthwhile to spend a little extra time getting to your destination safely.
Find Roads with Wide Shoulders
Any road that’s at least six feet wide is considered a road with wide shoulders. If you can find roads with even wider shoulders, even better! These roads are the safest for cyclists since they provide more space between you and passing traffic.
Wider roads also give you more room to maneuver if you need to avoid a pothole or other obstacles in your path. Still, you’ll need to be cautious when riding on these roads since cars may try to pass you too closely.
Alternatively, try finding routes with wide bike lanes. Bike lanes are dedicated paths for cyclists that are usually separated from the main road, usually by a dotted line or a physical barrier. This separation is meant to give you some extra protection from oncoming traffic.
However, be aware that not all bike lanes are created equal. Some bike lanes are just wide enough for a single cyclist, while others are much wider. Choose routes with bike lanes that make you feel comfortable and safe. It’s best not to always rely on cars to stay away from you at a safe distance. It’s imperative to be wary of your surroundings still.
Beware of Turns and Driveways
One of the most common causes of accidents is when a driver turns in front of a cyclist. This is especially dangerous if the driver doesn’t see you or tries to cut you off. To avoid this, take note of surrounding vehicles when there’s an upcoming turn.
It’s a good idea to slow down and use your professional judgment to determine if it’s safe to proceed. Make yourself more visible by wearing bright clothing. You can also try to make eye contact with turning drivers so they know you’re there. If you don’t see them looking at you, proceed very slowly or stop and wait until you know it’s safe.
This is also true for driveways. You must be on the lookout for cars pulling out of driveways since they might not see you coming. For your own safety, stay at a far distance from any car getting out of the driveway. If you’re ever in doubt, remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry, even though you know the driver should be the one to be careful.
Consider Staying Indoors at Bad Times
During dangerous riding times, such as a heavy rush hour or dusk when the light can make it challenging for cars to see you, consider moving your workout indoors. There is no shame in staying safe, and saving that great outdoor ride for a time when you are more assured of a safe ride.
For years, cyclists have ridden on rollers or bike trainers like these to keep their conditioning up even when they can’t cycle outside. If you are more of a group fitness person, there is always the option of a spin class or a Peloton-style workout, which can keep you safe and off the roads at bad times.
Find Trails Instead of Roads
A practical way to avoid cars is by finding trails instead of riding on the road. Trails are great because they’re mostly used by pedestrians, runners, and other cyclists. This means there’s much less traffic to worry about.
There might not be any vehicles at all! Of course, you’ll still need to be cautious of other people on the trail and yield to those who have the right of way. But overall, trails are a great option because you might be able to avoid cars altogether.
Riding through trails can also be very scenic and enjoyable, so don’t consider trails as a second-rate option. Many trails are located in parks or nature reserves, so you might get to see some beautiful scenery that you wouldn’t see on the road.
You can explore different parts of your city or town that you never would’ve seen before. And who knows, you might even find a new favorite route to common destination points.
If you are open to riding a gravel-style bike, you will probably have even more trails to choose from, as many have gravel or limestone surfaces. Gravel bikes have become quite popular in recent years due to their versatility.
Make Yourself More Visible
As a cyclist, you’re already at a disadvantage since cars are much larger and faster than you. To offset this, you need to make sure that drivers can see you clearly. Wearing bright and reflective clothing is a great way to do this.
You can also buy reflective gear such as vests, armbands, and even tires. If you ride at night or in low-light conditions, consider investing in some lights for your bike. You can attach these lights to the front, back, and even the sides of your bike. They’ll help drivers see you from all angles, making it much less likely for them to accidentally hit you.
When riding at night, you need to make yourself even more visible. This is where flashing lights come in handy. You can find all sorts of lights that flash in different patterns. Some even have multiple colors.
The flashier and more attention-grabbing, the better. Not only will this help drivers see you, but it’ll also make you more noticeable to pedestrians. Just be sure not to blind anyone with your lights. You don’t want to be the one causing an accident.
It’s also a good idea to stick to well-lit roads. If a road doesn’t have any streetlights, it might be too dangerous to ride on, especially if you’re not very visible.