Increasing our daily physical activity is one of the best ways we have to take care of our health, and moving around the city in alternative means of transportation, such as bicycles, can be a very good option for adopting healthy habits in our daily lives.
But do you know how to cycle around the city? Do you know how to get around and what are the different alternatives available to you? We tell you everything you need to know to ride a bicycle safely through the city.
If you go by bicycle, the traffic rules are also for you.
For legal purposes, a bicycle functions as a vehicle when we travel in the city, and the rules of the road also apply to cyclists. This means that in order to be able to ride our bicycle we will have to do it either on the bicycle lane, if there is one, or on the carriageway, as one more vehicle. In some municipalities, depending on their rules, you can drive on the sidewalk, but it is not usually the norm.
When driving on the carriageway we must always do it in the center of the lane to make ourselves more visible.
When we ride on the road with our bicycle we must do it in the right lane (or in the left if we are going to make a left turn) and not in the bus lane. In addition, it is important that for our own safety we circulate through the center of the lane: this helps us to make ourselves more visible when we go on the bicycle and to avoid dangerous overtaking or car doors or taxis that open without notice when parked.
We must also bear in mind that we have to signalize the maneuvers that we are going to make on the bicycle: the left turn is signalized raising the left arm, the right turn can be signalized either raising the right arm or raising the left with the elbow bent at 90 degrees. If you are going to stop, it is also advisable to mark it by raising your left arm slightly.
Unless otherwise marked, you should cross zebra crossings on foot as pedestrians, with your bicycle in your hand. Some zebra crossings in places where there are many bicycles can be adapted to them, with a signposted lane through which we can pass without getting off the bike.
Can I be fined while riding a bicycle?
As we said, the bicycle is considered another vehicle and, of course, we can also be fined for not complying with traffic rules. One of the most frequent fines for cyclists is the one that penalizes riding a bicycle while wearing headphones: this is totally forbidden, as it reduces the cyclist’s attention to the road. This conduct is punishable by a fine of 200 euros, and also applies if we wear only one headset or if our headset is bone conduction, without covering the ear.
Fines for driving bicycles with a higher than permitted alcohol content have increased in recent months, especially on weekends.
Another of the frequent fines that cyclists receive is for riding their bicycle with a higher than permitted alcohol level. If we ride a bicycle we cannot exceed the rate of 0.5 grams of alcohol per liter of blood or 0.25 grams of alcohol per liter of exhaled air. As for the amounts of alcohol, the law acts in the same way as it would with a driver of a motor vehicle with the only difference that it does not lead to a loss of points on the driver’s license.
Failure to carry the proper signage on the bike (a fixed white front light, a red light, fixed or flashing, rear light and a non-triangular red rear catadryoptic) is also grounds for a fine. Be careful with this because if we do not carry the lights regulations can also fine us even if it is day. The bell is also obligatory.
Other actions for which we can be fined when riding a bicycle in the city are to run a traffic light, drive on the sidewalk or drive the mobile.
The different alternatives for cycling in the city
Nowadays the cities are more and more bike-friendly and more adapted to bicycles as a means of transport. Many cities have already joined in offering bicycle rentals, with or without engines, to make it easier for citizens to get around. Among the best known we can name the BiciMad in the city of Madrid, Sevici in the city of Seville or Bicing in Barcelona.
Nor do we need to have our own bicycle to move around the city: shared bicycle rental systems such as oBike or oFo offer an alternative to those who prefer to rent bicycles by time or by route without having to depend on the charging stations of electric bicycles and thus being able to leave the central almond of the cities.
Before we pedal from one side of the city to the other, it is a good idea to know the itinerary we are going to follow: for this it is a good idea to use the Google Maps bike itinerary service, which will tell us which is the most recommended route for our trip, as well as other interesting data such as the unevenness that we will find on our journey.
Every day more and more people use the bicycle as a means of transport in the city, do you feel up to it?