If someone were to ask me why I ride, I just wouldn't know where to start but I guess my first thought would be "Why wouldn't I ride?" Certainly, there is a lot of hesitancy about safety issues surrounding riding on the road but good judgment and a little planning can offset the big risks: when you're motivated, you can find a way.
When it comes to riding in the City of Edmonton or many other urban centers, the facts are pretty clear:
The overriding principle always has to be safety. Within the City of Edmonton and many urban centers, you will find designated routes that help guide you along the safest route possible.
Roads and trails each have their risks but, regardless, the better you know your environment, the safer you will be. If you are riding a new trail or to a new destination, plan your route or plan to ride with someone familiar with it.
Use a map. I know a lot of people like to explore and hope for the best but the City of Edmonton does provide maps of bike routes and trails, both hard copy and online. And they are free.
Make yourself familiar with the laws and bylaws as they relate to your circumstances. Some basics you should know in Edmonton:
Bells are required by bylaw for riding on the road and
Cycling on sidewalks in the City of Edmonton is generally not permitted with 2 exceptions. 1- kids bikes with a wheel diameter of 50cm or less. And 2 - on designated shared sidewalks and shared pathways. These should be marked.
In the Province of Alberta, bicycles and cyclists are considered to be vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. So, yes, cyclists are permitted on roadways, regardless of what some motorists believe. We recommend anyone riding a bike familiarize themselves with the Alberta Traffic Safety Act.
Regardless of the rules of the road and your rights, caution and safety should always be a priority. If an bicycle and car intersect, even if the cyclist has/had the right of way, it's pretty easy to see that the bike and they cyclist have a huge disadvantage and are at higher risk or damage and injury. There are two primary reasons we as cyclists need to be cautious and be prepared for evasive action even when we are in the right of way:
Drivers do not always know the rules of the road as they relate to cyclists and may not always yield to you when they should.
Drivers often just don't see us. Whether due to distraction, ignorance or negligence, the potential risks of not being seen are there.
The best defenses are to ride smart and to make yourself seen.
There are three main ways you can maximize your visibility on the road:
Every cycling clothing brand makes specific Hi-Vis clothing and/or incorporates reflective or high visibility features into their clothing, making it a simple thing to dress to be seen. Look for reflective hits, bright colours and prints, patterns or colour blocking that make you stand out from your environment.
Lights for cycling are better value than ever so there is no excuse and there are lots of options. Most lights now have a USB chargeable option and are more powerful than ever.
Bright colours and reflective hits are great but a reflective hit that moves can help visibility as well. Look for socks and shoes that can aid in promoting your visibility. Most shoes now have reflective accents for this reason. Another moving part where you might see colour or reflective is the band on the hem of your bike shorts. Our Peace & Anarchy Element kit features a colourful band that is different on both legs for added contract.
Maps - We try to keep some here at Edmonton for customers to pick up as needed but they are also available on online or you can call the City to get a map mailed out to you.
The City of Edmonton website, www.edmonton.ca, has some great resources including a fact sheet titled "Cycling on Sidewalks."
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