[1. Go loud
No matter how porno you may look, throw vanity out the window and be as visible as possible. Wear bright clothing (reflective if possible) and have lights on your bike (white on the front and flashing red on the back). Ride in a group (preferably a club). The more of you there are, the more visible you are. But never ride more than two-abreast in the yellow line, single file through high traffic areas.
[2. Protect your noggin
It’s a no brainer unless you don’t have one. Forget helmet hair, you can even fall or get knocked off your bike when cruising along the beachfront. Besides, it’s law. And has been in SA since 2004.
[3. Red means stop
If you’ve passed your driver’s license you should know the rules of the road. As road users in South Africa, cyclists are required to obey them. These include stopping at red robots and giving way when you are meant to. It does not mean checking to see if anything is coming and then cycling through without stopping.
[4. Pretend you’re invisible
Ride like no-one’s seen you. Make your intentions overly obvious. Left arm extended means you intend turning left. Likewise for the right. Check if the driver has seen you. Make eye contact and make sure they know you are there. Everyone knows where you are going and everyone is happy.
[5. Lose the attitude
It’s no secret motorists are fed up with cyclists and vice versa, but is it really going to help when you give the finger or yell abuse at motorists– even if they deserve it? Rather just suck it up. Be polite, thank motorists for giving way etc. It goes a long way in silencing the haters and creating the cycling utopia we all dream of.
[6. Beware the mini bus menace
Be constantly aware of your surroundings. Expect the taxi to suddenly pull out in front of you or the car ahead to suddenly stop. Watch out for opening car doors, pedestrians running across the road, potholes to appear out of nowhere… On the other hand, ride predictably. Other road users (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike) will thank you. Also, riding with an ipod is asking for trouble. Not only will you be lost in Queen’s rendition of “I want to ride my bicycle”, you won’t hear the truck coming up behind you.
[7. Avoid taxi and bus routes
Avoid known hotspots or high accident/traffic areas. Don’t ride along the popular taxi or bus routes. We all know taxis are a law unto themselves and a bus is a couple of tons of steel versus a few kgs of carbon (ok, if you’re lucky, but you get the point). You will come off second best. Also avoid obvious pot-holed ridden roads and stay off the freeways.
[8. Don’t be a tool
Don’t hang on to cars at robots to “get a free ride” or keep your balance. It could either end in an ugly public spat (aka Shane Warne and the anonymous cyclist) or much, much worse.
[9. Play it safe
Tell someone your planned cycling route and who you will be riding with. Keep a copy of your ID and medical aid card on you at all times. And most importantly, make sure your bike is in good working order.
[10. Be part of the movement
It starts with you. Be an ambassador, set by example and watch the wheel turn.