Biking is a great way to get around the city. Whether it’s your daily commute or an occasional outing, peddle power is good for your health and good for our planet. But there are dangers and risks, especially if you’re biking in a city.

From the seawall to the vast network of protected bike lanes criss-crossing the city, we live in a cyclist’s paradise. While Vancouver has made cycling in the city safer, there are still too many accidents and crashes. Here are a few simple tips to make for a safer and more enjoyable ride.

Plan ahead

A journey of a thousand pedals begins with a plan. So before getting on your bike, plot your route and chose the safest way of getting there and back. Check out the map of Vancouver bike paths or search Google for trails in your community.

Follow the rules

Trails and paths across the city have posted rules, so make sure you follow them. Never bike on the sidewalk and always dismount when going through crosswalks. The same goes for crowded spaces. When on the street, bike in the same direction and on the same side as cars. And in case you didn’t know, bikes on our seawall have a speed limit: 15 km/h.

Put a lid on it

If you’re biking in BC, the law requires you wear a helmet. Aside from being the law, helmets can protect the head and reduce the dangers of an impact. Pick one that fits well and make sure the strap fastens securely under your chin.

See and be seen

Always make eye contact with others while you’re passing by. That way, you’ll know each other’s intentions. Too many accidents happen because someone claims they didn’t see the other party.

If you are biking after dark, you must have a white headlight and a rear red light, plus reflectors. Given our West Coast climate, you should also use your lights in foggy or rainy conditions when visibility is reduced. Bright coloured and reflective clothing also help. You definitely don’t want to get hit by a car, so make sure you can be seen.

Avoid the door prize

One of a city cyclist’s biggest dreads is a car door. To minimize the risk of getting ‘doored’, bike at least a meter (or three feet) away from parked cars. Also, avoid weaving in and out of traffic around cars. It makes you harder to see and harder for people in cars to predict where you might be going.

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James Richards
James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.