The Manitoba Cycling Association has produced a reasonable video* to offer some introductory pointers for developing your bike handling skills. As suggested, it’s a good idea to practice in an area with lots of space, away from traffic, and to take your time to practice doing it correctly.

 

Recap

  • Riding in a straight line can be confounded by obstacles and poorly maintained infrastructure. Look ahead. Imagine the line you want to follow about 10-15 metres ahead of you, and follow it. Don’t look down at your front wheel.

  • Just as with driving, it’s important to periodically check your blind spots. Look over your shoulder when a vehicle is overtaking, before you change position, and before making a turn, to assess how much space you have. While you are shoulder checking, you need to be able to maintain your straight line.

  • Signaling is how we tell other road users — pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers — what our intentions are.

    When signaling, face your palm backwards with fingers spread wide for maximum visibility.

     

    Remember:

    [elements_animation animation_type=’element_from_left’]
    1. Shoulder Check
    2. Signal
    3. Shoulder Check
    4. Complete Maneuver, with both hands on handlebars
    [/elements_animation]

    Signal Left: Check over your left shoulder to make sure the way is clear. Look forward to check your line and look for hazards, then stick your left arm straight out in the direction you want to go. Check your left shoulder again to make sure the way is still clear. Place both hands on handlebars, and complete your maneuver.

    Signal Right: Check over your right shoulder to make sure the way is clear. Look forward to check your line and look for hazards, then stick your right arm straight out in the direction you want to go. Check your right shoulder again to make sure the way is still clear. Place both hands on handlebars, and complete your maneuver.

    Signal to Stop or Slow Down: Check over your left shoulder to make sure the way is clear. Look forward to check your line and look for hazards, then angle your left arm down at 90 degrees. Check your left shoulder again to make sure the way is still clear. Place both hands on handlebars, and complete your maneuver.

  • Ride about 1 metre away from the curb. This will give you space on either side of you to maneuver around hazards. Practicing the “rock dodge” technique in a parking lot will help reduce the amount of space you need to maneuver around hazards.

    If you need to brake hard, level your pedals and slide your weight over the back of your seat to improve your rear wheel breaking, and to help avoid skidding.

 

Exception

The video mentions that with respect to rear brakes: “right = rear”. Most of the time, this is true. But not always. It depends on the setup of your bicycle. Some bicycles have pedal activated brakes. If your bicycle was imported from Europe, you might find that the brake levers follow the UK convention of “right = front”. Just as with cars, with not all brakes and clutches being the same, this is also true for bicycles. It’s best to learn which applies to yours.

 

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