How do people ride in Cities without getting killed?


New Member
Bristol scares me even when I'm in a car so I don't know how people cope on a bike, even if you're not worried about crashing you need a helmet to protect your head from flying beer cans.

I suppose Bristol isn't even considered a big City by some people but I find the vast sprawl of roads utterly disorienting and everyone drives like lunatics - thousands and thousands of cars, vans and lorries all trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, drivers all seemingly oblivious to the chaos. ;)

I get dizzy in Bristol; Torquay isn't much better and Cardiff is possibly even worse.

If you ride in the City, how do you stay safe? :biggrin:


Dog on a bike
Practice, more practice and a lot of being careful! Plus I find that there is so much traffic in London that very little of it can move at any kind of speed. ;)

Other than that it's just common sense and not letting other road users bully you into doing something dangerous (eg riding in the gutter or too close to parked cars)



I think it's mostly about confidence, knowing how and when to take your position, not being afraid to yield, understanding the mentality of the other forms of traffic, and, most of all, expecting everyone else on the road to be planning new and exciting ways to kill you.

Cool_Mint said: need a helmet to protect your head from flying beer cans.
Now there is a new one! Let's see some arguments supported by relevant statistics on that, shall we. :laugh:


Cycling in the sun
As someone who rides in Bristol - its fine - its about looking lots, good positioning and having the confidence to be in that position. Also knowing an area - junctions to avoid, alternative routes etc. Lots of cyclists often complain about St James Barton roundabout ... and I remember plucking up the courage to do it for the first time but its absolutely fine - in fact I love the little run down Stokes Croft to get there... lovely slope, nice and wide etc... whereas I admit the bit beyond does take a bit more watching as cars try to beat the traffic by being in the wrong lane as they approach the centre.

You can get one hour's subsidised training in Bristol for £5.


Rollin' along
Manchester way
Not good to say that Bristol is claimed to be one of the more cycle friendly cities

My advice is:
be decisive and assertive.

don't be afraid to make yourself as car like as possible to get past.

don't ride in gutters.

indicate clearly and in plenty of time.

make eye contact.

if you're going somewhere new, have a google street view session first and get a rough idea in your head where you want to be when coming up to junctions and roundabouts.

(unfair on 95%+ but) assume everyone in a motor vehicle is an idiot or a homicidal maniac and have a plan B to get out of the way just in case they are.


Nr Cambridge
wafflycat said:
It's about confidence and cycling assertively.
& also working out the most stupid &/or dangerous thing you can think of someone doing it & EXPECTING them to do it. 99.9% of the time you'll be planning for things that never happen but on that 0.1% you'll at least have a decent idea of what you're going to do to avoid a collision.

10 years ago I used to feel very intimidated by drivers because I wasn't aware of how stupidly people will act so in every 50 or so potential incidents I was finding 25-30 were unexpected & caused a problem for me, now I guess 1 in 50 or so potential incidents are unexpected & out of those less than half actually cause an issue.


Specialized Allez 24 Rider
When I took cycling up again last year, I was nervous, rode in the gutter and also had a collision with a taxi (he left hooked me) Now I am more confident, I ride in strong secondary and primary positions, depending on the road and I can now second guess what everyone is going to do, I am usually right too. Also I used to hate roundabouts and used to cycle on the outside, now I am a lot more confident I take them as you are supposed to do.

So in conclusion its about practice, being alert and confident.


If you're feeling uncomfortable on your bike, why not see if there is free or subsidised cycle training available.


Active Member
I think a lot depends on what you are used to. I have only ever ridden in cities (apart from when I was a kid) and took a trip on country roads a couple of weeks back. I was terrified! Cars passing at 60mph on roads that you didn't see another car on for ages, drivers seemed far more likely to be on autopilot instead of watching out for traffic lights/pedestrian crossings/cyclists as they have to in the city.

I think the main thing for me in cities is that the speed limit is so much lower it is less scary. And in Southampton at rush hour where I normally am, I am always passing the traffic as its so slow!


New Member
I commute through Bristol and find it to be pretty good during rush hour, however, outside of rush hour people get stupid.
At about 7:30pm is when I have found most people to be idiots.
I didn't even realise I do it but now that shouldbeinbed has said it I do have Streetview sessions to figure out where I'm going to go.

There are a couple of huge roundabouts either side of Templemeads Station and I find the best way is to just pretend you are a car (I'm a motorbike:smile:). make sure you take the lane, look behind to ensure the car there is giving you space indicate your lane changes/turns.

I've noticed a lot of car drivers also don't want to slow down and roll towards red lights waiting for them to change (Like I do)- they would rather speed up to them stop and wait untill it's their time to go.


Purveyor of fine nonsense
I find the following two things really help when cycling in Southampton or Portsmouth:

1) Move out into primary at pinch-points because people will try to squeeze past you otherwise. If they beep, ignore them.

2) Try to make eye contact with people waiting to pull out. If you can't make eye contact then the chances are they're not looking at you - get ready to slam on the brakes! If you do make eye contact, you can make various "gestures" to discourage them from pulling out :laugh: E.g. If they look like they are going to pull out, I tend to point at them, give them an evil stare and mouth "No!" at them.

3) HGVs are very very big, and you on a bike are very very small - bike + HGV = HGV wins.


Active Member
summerdays said:
Also knowing an area - junctions to avoid, alternative routes etc.

That's the first thing I tell people who ask me if I'm insane. I'll pick an example start and destination, and point out that there's a nice park and a straight backstreet if you don't fancy the A-road.

gemsno4 said:
I think a lot depends on what you are used to. I have only ever ridden in cities (apart from when I was a kid) and took a trip on country roads a couple of weeks back. I was terrified! Cars passing at 60mph on roads that you didn't see another car on for ages

Agreed! I don't know of any 40mph-limited single-lane roads round here, so being passed at that speed is a bit of a surprise...
+1 for being assertive and confident. I rode through London today, from one mainline station to another, and I have to say it's so busy and there's so much to look out for and think about it makes Portsmouth seem quite laid back! But confidence comes with practice I think, going by how nervous I was a year or so ago when confronted with a main road or a lorry.
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