Is It Safe to Ride a Bike in Your City?
When you live in a bike-friendly city you know. Not only is riding a bike part of everyone’s lifestyles, but even the government seems to be encouraging them to ride everywhere. There’re bike lanes, bike shops and an overall bike-friendly culture that helps cyclists ride in a healthy and safe environment. But, what happens when you live in a city that’s not quite that friendly but doesn’t seem outright unfriendly either?
If that’s the case, there’s a couple of things you’ll have to figure out before deciding to make your bike your main vehicle. While you probably won’t face many difficulties riding around a quiet neighborhood, commuting to work or going across town on a bike might be a whole other animal. Here’s what you need to ask yourself:
Are There Lots of Bad Drivers?
Is your city notorious for car accidents? Are there lots of drunk driving accidents? How about road rage issues? Or even issues with driving and texting? These are all incredibly dangerous things on their own, and they can be deadly for cyclists.
Take a moment to assess how you normally feel while on the road. If you feel anxious and unsafe, it won’t be any better while on your bike. Don’t underestimate how dangerous it is to be out on a bike surrounded by angry or irresponsible drivers.
Are There Bike Lanes?
This is another safety issue you have to take into account. Bike lanes help cyclists safely ride through difficult intersections or bigger streets. That is not to say that riding on streets with no bike lanes is impossible, you can ride on those as well, but it will be exponentially less safe.
Getting across town on a bike is enough of a physical challenge without having to worry about cars getting too close because there are no designated lanes. In fact, without bike lanes, there might be places that you won’t be able to reach at all for your own safety.
How’s the Infrastructure?
If you go grocery shopping will there be a place to leave your bike while you go about your business? What about at work? Are there bike stations where you can fix a flat tire on the road? What about cafes or parks where you can rest if you get too tired?
These are all really important things that you need to take into account before going anywhere. Having a place to park your bike is as important as having bike lanes. The same goes for bike stations, if you suffer any technical issues while on the road, you want to be able to quickly address them and go about your day.
And the Conditions?
The last point you have to take into account is the distance between the places you have to go and the kind of terrain you’ll be riding in. Long distances are difficult for beginners and so are steep hills or dirt roads. Of course, experienced cyclists can handle all of this, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point so if you’re first starting out riding under hard conditions is not a great idea.