A cyclist navigates the street jammed by traffic in New York's Times Square Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005. With a month left in the year, police records show 21 cyclists have died in traffic accidents in New York, up from 15 in all of 2004. (AP Photo/ Dima Gavrysh)
So you've considered commuting to work on a bicycle. Now you're worried about the logistics -- between congested sidewalks, aggressive drivers and unpredictable weather, can you make it to work in one piece?
Absolutely, says Bicycling Magazine editor Emily Furia. In response to some common concerns about navigating the city on your bicycle, here are some tips:
How to ride on a rainy day
Don’t Be a Jerk
Sudden movements, such as grabbing a handful of brake or being aggressive in corners, will surely land you on your butt. Instead, stay centered on the bike and look far enough ahead that you have plenty of time to slow down for corners or react to slippery spots (be especially careful when riding over wet manhole covers or painted lines). If you do encounter a slick patch, level your pedals, point your bike straight ahead, relax your upper body, and exhale as you cross. If you have to pedal over a larger patch, keep your stroke extra smooth with steady, even pressure on the pedals—no quick stabs.
Fenders are Your Friend
Showing up to work with a mud stripe down one’s back is generally frowned upon, but full coverage fenders on your bike’s front and rear wheels will help keep road spray at bay. Planet Bike and SKS both make a range of quality models.
Mind Your Machine
Mix road salt and grit with a little water and you get a crunchy solution that chews through bike parts. To minimize damage, clean and lube your chain after wet rides:
How to deal with aggressive drivers
Signal all turns, and make eye contact with drivers at intersections. This not only helps ensure that you’re seen, but also reminds motorists that there’s a human being underneath that helmet and glasses.
This general script is pretty effective (though not perfect) for defusing heated confrontations with drivers.
How to tote around groceries and other items
For major hauls, you can use panniers attached to front and rear racks. First, double check that your bike’s frame has mounts for racks (your local shop can help you determine this if you’re unsure). For smaller loads, a backpack or messenger bag will do the trick—and make for easier bike handling.
For impromptu shopping trips, you can make an in-a-pinch messenger bag out of three plastic grocery sacks:
Emily Furia is a Senior Editor for Bicycling magazine, where she has worked for nearly 10 years. As the main contributing editor to The Big Book of Bicycling, Furia is one of Bicycling’s top experts on beginner, commuter, and women’s content, as well as editing feature stories, contributing service pieces and reviewing bikes.