CYCLING – tips & observations

Fact is, the more you ride your bicycle the more experience you gain, the more confident you are moving with the flow of the other vehicle traffic.

Victoria British Columbia Canada – although described as the “bicycle capital of Canada” – is not easy to negotiate. Two reasons: (1) Since Vancouver Island is just one big volcanic rock, city streets are never just level, they are up and down, climbing and descending, oftentimes steep.(2) Victoria is an older city and many streets are narrow, having gotten too small for the amount of increasing traffic. That means that only select streets and thoroughfares have marked bicycle lanes. Usually just painted demarcations in the street, sharing busy roads with cars, trucks and buses. There are no dedicated bicycle lanes like in many European cities or larger cities in Canada. Where enough space is available to have bike lanes.

In summary, in Europe for example, of one thousand cars there may be 200 bicycles in the roads. In Canada, out of one thousand cars there may be 20 bicycles. To cycle safely, it needs a couple of tricks or tips (to keep you alive): Traveling along the road through numbers of traffic lights (signals at each corner) as a cyclist one should always stop when the lights turn yellow (while a car can easily make it through the yellow lights, a bike cannot). What I do ? Observe both the big lights for changing and the smaller ones for the pedestrian crossings. When the pedestrian lights blink red and the big lights are still green, slow down, YELLOW will follow quick. Next tip: When cycling down a busy street and cars are coming at you and behind you, try to check (half-turn head) behind you right and left. There are cyclists that try to pass you on your right. A big NO-NO and dangerous. (Unless you have small rear-view mirrors attached).

I cycle a lot. And we have wonderful (out-of-city) bicycle trails. That’s fine and dandy. But from my house to get to those trails I still have to cover one km to arrive at any bike trail. Another thing to observe is, always indicate your turns (right or left). Some cyclists don’t. And never cycle in pairs. Even on the trails, where many do it. Cycling in groups and talk, talk, instead of respecting others on the trails.

What counts most is experience: If one cycles only twice a year, then it’s difficult to feel confident in heavy traffic. And don’t forget the tools. One more little tip (concerning the theft of bikes or bicycle parts). I now got myself two lock chains: One for the seat, the helmet and the rear wheel, the second for the front wheel, the frame and firmly connected to a post or bike rack. There are nice lock chains now which can be registered online for in case one looses a key. Another little tip (after I had a tire blow out on the trail) is to always keep cash with you to take a bus home. Bikes here can be mounted free of charge on the front of a city bus (room for two). Or carry a spare tube. The obvious: wear bright colored clothing, that helps.

One more issue: Cycling on the side walks, among pedestrians. Illegal here in Canada. Most that do are likely to be young males. If older senior citizens can cycle in the road with the vehicular traffic, then they can do that too. This rule I like here in Canada. Compared to eg. Germany Berlin where people cycle on the sidewalks and when walking, your head has to be screwed backward all the time. Enough of this: HAPPY & SAFE CYCLING !

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