I am not going to beat around the bush. I am a scaredy-cat. Yes I am. As a kid I was scared of the boogie man, the dark, the sound of the water going down the plughole in the bath (known in my house as Mr Gurgle). I’m also equally fearful of anything that involves […]
I am not going to beat around the bush. I am a scaredy-cat. Yes I am.
As a kid I was scared of the boogie man, the dark, the sound of the water going down the plughole in the bath (known in my house as Mr Gurgle).
I’m also equally fearful of anything that involves any form of balance. So it took me a while to get the hang of cycling again as an adult.
I’m not going to lie to you. Cycling on Sydney’s roads can be scary. It’s true. Dealing with traffic, cranky drivers, limited bike paths, other cyclists screaming along at a hundred miles an hour, pedestrians, dogs, buses, taxis, car doors and motorbikes, is enough to put anyone off.
For me, overcoming my cycling fears required a few things. Here are my top ten tips for how to not be a scaredy-cat cyclist!
- Build your confidence first – spend some time cycling in a park or on quiet roads until you are feeling really comfortable on your bike and you can break quickly and easily
- If you are commuting – spend some time working out which way you can go with the least amount of traffic. It might mean cycling a little further but the journey will be more pleasant
- Find a friend to cycle with – cycling along side by side (two abreast) and taking up the whole lane, forces cars to go around you. You are legally allowed to do this
- Don’t cycle right over in the gutter. This lets cars sneak past you. They come too close and that can leave you nowhere to go. I tend to cycle far enough out in the lane that cars have to indicate and go all the way around me
- Don’t cycle at peak hour – if you can, change the hours that you commute by bike so you can avoid peak hour
- Be predictable in traffic and try not to annoy motorists. We are all on the road together so a bit of give and take is required. Riding through red lights is not only dangerous but it gives cyclists a bad name. Obeying the road rules while cycling also helps motorists to predict what you are going to do which leads to less issues on the road
- Do a City of Sydney cycling course – I did one when I started cycling and it was great. Gave me lots of good pointers and things to think about while on the road. And best of all the courses are free!
- Lights, lights and more lights. If you are going to ride at dusk or night, go crazy with lights. Light yourself like a Christmas tree. Also put a light on the back of your helmet, it’s a good height for motorists to see (be careful not to have your lights tilted at an angle where they will daze cyclists coming in the other direction like cycling on the Harbour Bridge or in two way bike lanes)
- While we’re on the topic – riding in light coloured clothing also helps other road users to see you
10. Avoid riding in the rain unless you are experienced – it’s super slippery and as you probably know, drivers do dumb things in wet weather! So if it’s bucketing down, put the bike away and catch the bus.
Are you a scaredy-cat cyclist like me? Tell me all about it – I’d love to hear your stories.