Amazing Outdoor Workouts: Bike

No matter your skill or experience level, there’s a ride in Boston for you. Just mount up, pedal safely, and let our experts guide you.

By Casey Lyons | Boston Magazine |


(Illustration by John Ueland.)

Biking our streets isn’t so scary once you know where the dangers lie. Train yourself to be on the lookout for trouble before it finds you. Here are the hazards you need to know about, and their danger levels, ranging from deadly [!!!!!] to annoying [!].

[the buzz]
1. It seems like the more time a motorist spends on the road, the angrier he gets at cyclists (we’re looking at you, bus drivers). To avoid being “buzzed” by a car, ride closer to the middle of the street until there’s room to let a raging driver pass.
Danger level: !!!

[street obstacles]
2. Road shoulders often accumulate glass, metal shards, and other tire-popping debris. Also watch for potholes in travel lanes (cars may swerve to avoid them) and ride heads-up to avoid these problems without putting yourself at risk.
Danger level: !

[right hook]
3. Motorists who can’t bear to brake for a bicyclist will zoom past, then abruptly turn right. Give yourself ample braking distance (at least a car’s length) if a driver looks squirrelly, lost, or like he’s searching for parking.
Danger level: !!!!!

[left hook]
4. Less common than its right-handed twin, the left hook is a cross-traffic ­maneuver motorists use to squeeze a turn between oncoming cars. To avoid getting sideswiped, speed up when passing through intersections.
Danger level: !!!!

5. Admit it: When you’re not on a bike, you cross against the light, too. We all do, and why not? The maximum penalty is $1. So while riding, look for heads popping up between cars, especially when traffic is stopped.
Danger level: !!!

[boston cheat]
6. When drivers nose forward to see around a row of parked cars (a trademarked move here), they often block the bike lane. Next thing you know, you’re over the hood. Try this (in order of ascending urgency): Make eye contact with the motorist, point with a fully extended arm, or wave frantically.
Danger level: !!

7. Going from 15 to 0 miles per hour in the space of 6 glass-and-metal-filled inches is brutal, but that’s what happens to a cyclist when someone who’s parked his car flings open the door without looking. We know bikers who’ve lost teeth. Stay safe by riding no less than 3 feet from
parked cars.
Danger level: !!!!