This article on getting comfortable with bicycling in the city is sponsored by Schwinn Bicycles. They provided our family with bicycles for this article. This blog may contain affiliate links. I'll only recommend and share products that I use and love myself. Thanks!
Which would you rather do, ride down a mountain on a bicycle or ride next to a truck on a busy city street?
For some reason the idea of riding on a city street scares me more than mountain biking. That is saying something because the last time I went mountain biking, I got pretty banged up.Every day I see people cycling around town, riding around the lake for exercise, and there is even a popular bike-share program downtown. So part of my getting back on the bike journey is to conquer my fear and start riding in the city.
This past summer, I got back on a bicycle after years and years of not riding. In part, I did it because we were taking a huge summer road trip through Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado where we could try mountain biking. You can read about that here. But the other part was I wanted an activity to do with my family. Now that we are back home, there aren’t any mountains to put the skills I learned to use. So mountain biking is out. That leaves urban cycling. I scares me just a little bit to share the road with a car. But I’ve been doing a few things to work myself up to getting on the road.
Get Comfortable with Your Bicycle
You can’t be comfortable if you aren’t confident in your ability or the equipment you are using. So practice, practice, practice is the first rule to riding on the road. The more you ride, the more confident you will be and the sooner you will be on the road. I have this Schwinn Trailway Hybrid Bicycle that I use around town. Before I head out on any ride, I ensure that my tires are inflated and the brakes work. That alone makes me more comfortable on my bike during a ride.
Start Riding on a Dedicated Bike Path Away from Cars
In many areas, there are dedicated lanes for bicycles that are separate from cars. I have found those much easier to navigate. There is no fear of a car pulling out in front of me. During my travels, I’ve seen many cities that offer these types of paths. These cities make riding in the city much easier than others.
Until I became more comfortable riding, I have actually trailered my bike and taken it to any area with a dedicated path. I have this Saris Super Clamp Bike Rack that we got for our last road trip. There’s no shame is doing what you are comfortable with and easing out little by little.
Join a Group Ride
There are quite a few groups around here that offer adult only and family rides. That group setting makes everyone a lot more visible to motorists. That gives me some piece if mind. It is also more fun to ride in a group and you can learn from other cyclists around you.
I found a local group through a local bicycle shop. They hosted the ride. You can inquire at any local bike shop or do a quick Google Search.
Part of being comfortable bicycling in the city or anywhere for that matter is being prepared. Whenever I ride, I bring a few essentials like these:
You should always ride a bicycle wearing a helmet. I have this Schwinn Helmet with an integrated light. It is great for riding at night and riding on a city street because it makes you more visible.
Water Bottle & Snack
I never go anywhere without a refillable water bottle and a snack.
First Aid Kit
This is more for me than the kids. I have this Bicycle First Aid Kit from SJ Works that attaches to the bike frame.
It includes an assortment of bandages, sterile pads, antiseptic wipes, tape, and scissors. There’s a First Aid Guide too for when, not if, I fall again.
I don’t ride with items in my pockets. So this pack holds all the snacks, car keys, wallet, phone, etc.
Bike lock (not shown)
When riding in town or the city, I need a way to keep my bike secure when I’m not riding. I have this lock. Nothing fancy but it does the job.
Cycling around the city is a great way to see the sites or to just get from point A to point B. But it can be a little intimidating. It is for me and I’m working on it. Last week, I took part in a Full Moon Ride in Downtown Oklahoma City.
Streets were nearly deserted and it was a good introduction to urban cycling. But I know that’s not the norm. I will continue to ride more and more to conquer my fear and get back on the road.
How do you get comfortable bicycling on a city street?