Tips for Cycling Cities Around the World
Last year in New York City I was surprised, no shocked, to discover bike lanes. I would never have imagined it but early in 2010 they were built.
And, even more surprising to me, the cab drivers, every one that I queried on the subject, weren’t all that annoyed by them. This bodes well for the future of cycling, decongesting our roads, cleaning our air and seeing cities in a whole new way.
I use my bike in Toronto all the the time (though not in winter). I’m above ground (not in a subway) and seeing the city at a different pace. I often enjoy the same when I’m traveling. Cycling is even a chance to connect with other cycling locals.
Here are some tips for enjoying some prime destination cities by bike.
- Cities I’ve cycled and can personally recommend: Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Ottawa. There are many others of course, including New York City.
- Some cities have public bicycle rental programs that are great for getting from point A to point B – you can drop the bike off at a terminal close to your destination.
- For longer stays in cities, look for weekly and even monthly bike rental deals. I rented a bike for two months while living in Amsterdam and never used the van in the city.
- Check online for city bike maps and other information. Here are links for a few cities:
- Lock your bike – all of your bike if you have quick release features – well and to something sturdy.
- Obey the rules of the road carefully. Some cyclists consider themselves above the laws that cars must follow. Even if you do this at home, don’t in a new city as you can’t anticipate the traffic as you do at home.
- Please, yes I’m asking you, please wear a helmut. I was door prized (hit by a person opening their car door) in Toronto in the early 90s not wearing a helmut and was thrown into the road. With luck, there were no cars coming and I survived with just a huge lump – it took many weeks to go down.
- Always make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you. With eye contact I have even recruited agreeable drivers to shield me with their cars in difficult intersections.
- Ride further to the left than you might think. By doing so, you are forcing traffic to notice you – traffic coming in all directions not just that behind you. You will also avoid the sewer grates and pot holes that are often closer to the curb and you will be more able to avoid the door prize.
- Don’t ride with ear buds or talking on the phone. Stay alert.
- While I don’t recommend riding at night in a strange city, if you do use a head lamp and have reflective strips on your clothing.