Today we continue a series of 10 posts about cycling with car traffic. These are things we have learned from years of riding in downtown Toronto. Some of these tips you may have seen before in other places, and some will be new.
This is not meant to be a complete list… there are more secrets out there… but here are 10 that you’ll find very useful.
NOTE: These are geared towards downtown cycling, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. These all assume that you already know about proper lighting and safety (ie. helmets are useful, stopping at red lights is advised, etc.) precautions, and know that riding on sidewalks is one of the most unsafe things you can do, for both pedestrians and yourself.
Past tips are found at the bottom of this post.
4. Avoid The “Stoplight Squeeze”
The next time you get to a red light before cars do, DON’T put your right foot down on the curb. I know it’s tempting as it’s a handy little footrest, but if you’re right beside the curb, any drivers that come up behind you will drive up beside you on the left (often too close) and you’ll be “squeezed” when the light turns green, having to wait for that car to go before you can.
Instead, when you get to the red before cars, swing out a little to the left (I usually stop about 1/3 of the way between the curb and the next lane), and lean over to the left, putting your left foot down. This forces drivers to stop behind you, and gives you “first dibs” when the light turns green.
Check out the full “10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic” series:
- Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You
- Ride in a Straight Line
- Play by the Rules
- Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”
- Signal Sensibly
- Take That Lane
- Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable
- Ride With Others
- Avoid the Right Hook
- Practice Your Route