Confident road riding includes strategies to see what is ahead, good decision making and being visible to other road users. Instructors can help with learning these techniques. Here are some general tips.

Woman riding on road.

Road cycling strategy

Ask yourself these questions when you ride on the road.

Where am I going? Plan a safe route. When you are riding, look ahead as far as you can. See where you need to go next to avoid hazards and make manoeuvres.

What do I need to know? Hazard perception is a crucial skill. Look all around for potential hazards so that you can react ahead of time. Scan ahead, look to both sides, and check over your right shoulder.

What do I need to do? Make decisions based on the first two steps. Actions may include:

  • slowing down, or coming to a stop.
  • using hand signals, making eye contact with drivers or pedestrians.  
  • taking up a new lane position, completing manoeuvres.

Getting off your bike and completing a manoeuvre as a pedestrian is always a valid choice. For example, using the footpath and pedestrian traffic signals to cross a major intersection.

Skills for riding on city streets and riding near trucks or buses. Courtesy of Cycling Action Network.

Hazard perception

Looking and listening gives you time to make good decisions. Here are some things to watch for.

Weather. Wind, rain and cold all make riding more difficult. Rain and ice make roads slippery. Rain and fog make it harder to see other road users and to be seen.

The road. Look out for road signs. Signs often alert you to hazards such as road works or a narrow road. Look ahead for corners, changes to the surface condition, or changes in lane markings.

Light. When the sun is low it's harder to see ahead — for both you and drivers. Think ahead if darkness will fall when you are still out. If you don't have lights, get off and walk. 

Traffic. Watch for what drivers are doing. Don't rely on their indicators  — also watch for vehicle movement and brake lights. Make eye contact with drivers.

How you're feeling. Think about yourself. Emotions, fatigue and alcohol all affect your bike riding and your decision making.

Your bike. What type of bike you have and its state of repair, especially the condition of tyres and brakes can affect your ride.

Expect the unexpected. Other road users make mistakes. That person in a parked car may open their door without looking. The pedestrian may step out suddenly. The driver up ahead may change lanes quickly. Be prepared to react.

More information

Learning to ride (The official New Zealand code for cyclists)(external link)