Tips & resources

How to ride in the city

Riding a bike in the city or built-up, urban environments poses some unique challenges. Below are a few pointers so that you can navigate city streets with confidence.

Top 10 tips for riding in urban environments

Whether you’re riding to work in the city, or for work as a delivery rider or courier, there are some important things you should know. 

We’ve summarised all the tips outlined below in an easy to download and printable fact sheet. 


TIP #1 

Bicycle Network_Look ahead and slow down

Scan further ahead on the road than what’s directly in front of you and slow down if you’re not sure whether someone has seen you, or if they will give way to you.

Communicate using your bell, your voice, hand signals and eye contact.

When riding close to moving traffic or parked cars, do so slowly so you have time to react to hazards.

TIP #2

Avoid doorings by riding outside of the door zone, which is about one-metre out from the side of parked or stopped cars.

Watch for people opening doors on the left side of cars stopped in the traffic lane, especially taxis.

If you can’t ride wide of the door zone, scan the parked cars ahead for people exiting, slow down, and be prepared to stop.

TIp #3

Most crashes occur at intersections, so look out for drivers turning left or tuning right across your path.

Scan for drivers indicating to turn, as well as those positioned to turn but not indicating.

Try to make eye contact with any drivers and if you can’t, slow, and be prepared to give way.

Don’t continue through a gap in stopped traffic without scanning for a car coming through in either direction.

TIp #4

Avoid swerving or popping out into traffic unexpectedly, and keep left when possible.

Hugging the gutter is not always safe. In certain situations this invites drivers to try to pass you when there isn’t actually enough room.

On narrow streets move further out from the curb to make yourself more visible, and if there is traffic behind, move to the left when you have an opportunity to do so.

Tip #5

Hook turns on a bike are a great risk reduction tool when you need to turn right.

You can keep left, you don’t have to cross multiple lanes of traffic and you avoid having to wait in the middle of an intersection for a gap in traffic.

Bike riders can make a hook turn at any intersection unless road signs specifically say no right turns can be made.

Tip #6

Bike riders can overtake on the left, but must give way to drivers turning left.

When a rider and driver arrive at an intersection side-by-side, the one in front has right of way and the one behind gives way. The same rules apply when changing lanes.

It’s important to remember that it can be difficult for drivers to see a bike on their left so assume that they might not have noticed you.

TIp #7

Never run a red light.

Obeying road rules and signals like red lights makes traffic more predictable and less stressful for everyone. 

TIp #8

You must have a front white light and red rear light with you when riding. Make sure they’re turned on not only when it’s night, but on overcast days and in low light.

A good guide is to put your lights on when the streetlights are on.

TIp #9

Drivers often do the unexpected. On the road, ride with your hands on the brakes so that you can respond quickly.

Learn how to shift your body weight rearwards when making an emergency stop, use your gears properly, control the bike while looking over your shoulder and confidently ride with one hand.

TIp #10

Never ride up on the left or the inside of any large vehicle at an intersection or move into the space in front of a truck – even if it’s a bike box – the driver won’t be able to see you.

The major blind spots for a large vehicle are directly behind and to the side.

Always maintain enough distance behind or in front of any large vehicle so the driver can see you.

If you can’t see the mirrors, the driver probably can’t see you.

Ready to test your knowledge? 

Take our quick 10 question quiz to test your knowledge and build your confidence. 

Take the quiz

More helpful resources

Become our friend

Find out more about Bicycle Network and support us in making it easier for people to ride bikes.

Become our friend - Footer