Many major cities now have easy access to bikes. Self-serve rental schemes such as London’s ‘Boris Bikes’ can be found in countless metropolitan areas. The idea originally began in 2003 in Vienna, Austria and has been exported around the world. These bikes are great for locals and tourists alike as they are easily accessible and can be rented on and off throughout the day, week or longer.
Cycling can be a fantastic way of exploring a city without breaking the bank. It can save on blisters and you can cover a lot more ground than if you were walking. In addition to self-serve bikes many places have rental stores where you may even be able to rent a tandem … if you’re feeling brave! And wherever you are you’ll be sure to have amazing views such as these:
However, there are a few problems with cycling as a tourist. For one, you’re in an unfamiliar area, making it much harder to navigate. Secondly, you want to stop and take in the view all the time and can get in the way of busy commuters. Nobody wants to end up in a heap on the floor, so I’ve compiled a list of top tips for a smooth ride on your next holiday bike ride!
- Wear a helmet
Safety tip number one is always were your helmet. In some places it is a legal requirement to wear one. So, don’t worry about your hair, you’re on holiday, no one cares! The rental places have a special spray to keep them clean, so you don’t need to worry about that either.
- Use the cycle lanes… correctly
The bike lanes have been put there for a reason, for you to use. It can be tempting to ride on the pavement/sidewalk in areas with a lot of vehicle traffic but it can be just as dangerous.
- Be aware
I’ve seen a few accidents where people have ended in a pile on the floor simply because they weren’t paying attention. It is easy to get distracted but being switched on could prevent a trip to the emergency room!
- Don’t play music
If you are wearing headphones while on your bike you might not be able to hear certain things such as sirens, people shouting or car horns. Miss hearing one of these and you could end up causing an accident. Also playing music from a speaker on your bike is just annoying! Not everyone is going to like your music choice… but this one is more a bug bear of mine!
- Obey the signs
Pure and simple they are there for a reason and they are there for your safety and the safety of others. For example, when cycling around Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada, there are certain sections which require you to stop and dismount. It is clearly sign posted but hardly anyone does it even though it goes through a kids play area. No one wants to run a kid over… so obey the signs!
- Lock up your bike
Being able to lock up your bike gives you freedom. If you find a cute bar or café and fancy stopping for a bite to eat, just lock your bike up. Most rental places will provide a lock so make sure you ask before setting off on your adventure. Plus, having a lock saves any hassle should your bike get stolen.
- Move to the side for photos
Don’t stop in the middle of the cycle path just to take a photo. Same as when you are driving a car, if you stop suddenly in the road you’re going to cause a pile up. So, check around and pull to the side before taking that perfect snapshot.
- Check your bike before leaving the rental store
My friend and I rented a tandem and happily rode off. She was convinced I wasn’t pedalling the whole time… turns out we had a flat tire! We headed back to the rental store and switched out for individual bikes which were way more comfortable and had super bouncy tires!
- Stay hydrated
You’re going to get hot so stay hydrated whilst out and about. Pop some frozen drinks in your backpack and they will soon defrost giving you a nice cool drink just as you need it.
- Take breaks
If you are not used to cycling on a regular basis, make sure to pace yourself. Take breaks every now and then, you are on holiday after all! Enjoy the views, spend some time people watching or grab a quick bite to eat.
I hope these tips will help you have a smooth journey. Other than walking, cycling is such a fun way to see a place without getting on transit. It’s a greener way to travel and you get fit at the same time… what more could you ask for? So, get out there and have fun!
Have you ever cycled while on holiday? What’s the best place you’ve cycled as a tourist?
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