Biking in the city is one of the most exhilarating and refreshing experiences a city-dweller can have! It’s environmentally-friendly, saves you from the hassle of parking, and is a fun, yet athletically stimulating, activity to get around. Although biking in cities is, all-in-all, straightforward (don’t swerve, stay in your lane, etc.), biking in “the city that never sleeps” is a completely different experience. So here are some few tips to help you out when riding in the Big Apple.
1. Stick to the bike lanes and use caution.
New York City is arguably the front-runner when it comes to having a bike-friendly city, however, there are still hundreds of accidents every year. To avoid being demolished by a car or piling into a pedestrian, it is important to always anticipate that cars and people cannot see you, even if you are in the bike lane.
2. Obey the street code.
You don’t need a license to drive a bike (which is unfortunate when it comes to some people), so obeying the rules of the road is a MUST! First things first, pedestrians always have the right of way. No matter what, no matter how, they have it.
Go with the flow of traffic (duh), stay in the bike lanes, and stay clear of crosswalks are some easy rules to remember. Also remember to be visible by having front and rear lights on your bike when it starts getting dark. Lastly, although helmets are not legally required for riders over the age of 13, they are always a good idea!
3. Avoid the door zone.
Car doors are the most insidious hazard facing the city rider. It’s hard to anticipate people swinging open their doors, and most times, drivers simply don’t check for bikes before opening the door. The only way to avoid getting doored is to assume that every single door in your path will open. Always leave a door-sized space when passing any stopped car—not just parked ones. If you’re forced to squeeze through the door zone, slow down to walking speed and look for warning signs: brake lights, taxi cab vacancy lights, and the side-to-side rocking of passengers getting ready to scoot out.
4. Beware of the right hook.
This is when a car passes a cyclist traveling the same direction, then immediately turns off the road and across the rider’s path. Make a habit of glancing over your left shoulder (if you’re on the right side of the road) in the approach to every intersection, exit ramp, or driveway. Merge early to straddle the line between turn lanes and through traffic. If cars ahead slow to make a turn, slide by on their outside, instead of ducking between them and the corner.
5. When in doubt, take the lane.
City streets appear dangerous compared to quiet rural roads, but the chaos ensures that everyone moves slowly and pays attention. Bikes mix better with cars in this environment, and the safest place on the road is often the middle of it. Where the street is narrow, ride in the center to deter aggressive drivers from trying to squeeze past where they shouldn’t. Also, remember that cars from behind pose less of a threat than opening car doors or pedestrians jumping out from the side of the street.
Next time you’re headed for a ride in NYC, make sure you have your Swiftwick socks for a blister-free, moisture wicking ride! Shop local and find a Swiftwick dealer near you in NYC!