Ride your bike to work: 10 tips for cycling in the city

young man riding his bike to work


Posted August 28, 2023

Thinking of commuting to work in the city by bicycle? Here are 10 tips for cycling safely in the CBD.

If you're tentative about catching public transport to work and don't want to battle the peak hour car commute, it might be time to get on your bike. As well as avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic, choosing to pedal power your commute may save you money on transport costs and give you a healthy dose of exercise. But if you're new to cycling to work, there are some things to bear in mind for surviving the city end of your commute.

Need some extra motivation to get back on your bike on the way to work? Biketober is a fun, free biking challenge presented by Love to Ride and RACV. The Biketober program is free for workplaces in the City of Melbourne and available at a 50 per cent discount for businesses located in other local government areas.

10 tips for cycling safely in the city

Make it easy for motorists to see you

Motorists need to look out for cyclists, and it’s in your best interest to make that easy by being as visible as possible. Hi-vis gear for daylight and silver reflective gear for night riding will keep you highly visible both on and off the road. You should also have front and rear lights on your bike, and they should be turned on as soon as the sun starts to set until it fully rises again.

Take the side streets

Melbourne’s secret side streets invite and reward a diversion down quieter thoroughfares. As always, look out for pedestrians and delivery trucks that might not be expecting you, and mind your exit back on to a main street.

Learn how to properly lock your bike | RACV

Ring your bell

You must have a bell on your bike, so put it to good use! It’s not impolite to ding before passing a slower rider, who can move to the left to help you pass safely in a narrow bike lane. Some riders will say “passing” as they whizz past on the right, but that's acting a little too late.

Stay attentive when riding in bike lanes

The green streak of a bicycle lane is not the invitation to carefree riding that you might like it to be. Other vehicles can legally drive or park in bicycle lanes for a number of reasons, and many others swoop in illegally - as do plugged-in pedestrians. Stay alert no matter where you're riding.

Sometimes the busiest route is the safest 

If you’re not sure which route to take, follow other cyclists. There’s safety in numbers – you’re more visible, and motorists expect to encounter riders on cycle-friendly streets. You can also take comfort in the road rule that requires Victorian motorists to allow a minimum one-metre distance when passing a cyclist in speed zones 60km/h or lower, and 1.5 metres when passing at speeds over 60 km/h.

woman riding a bike down a bike lane in the city

Stay off the footpath: there are plenty of dedicated bike lanes in the CBD. Image: Mike Bird

Learn how to hook turn on a bicycle

Hook turns are generally a safe right-turn alternative for bike riders. They're also obligatory for all vehicles (including bikes) at some Melbourne CBD intersections, where you will see a ‘hook turn only’ sign. You can do a hook turn at any intersection, unless a sign states otherwise.

Stay off the footpath 

The only time an adult can ride legally on a footpath is when they’re accompanying and supervising a child aged under 13 (or if you have a medical exemption). Too many bikes on the footpaths could end up tangling with pedestrian traffic. But feel free to jump off your bike and walk it around a tricky intersection if you prefer.

Slow down at busy intersections

One of the diciest situations for a cyclist is cycling alongside banked-up traffic at an intersection, and encountering a car turning right from the other direction. You might have a lovely free run ahead, but slow down enough to make eye contact with drivers who might not have seen you.

woman storing her bike in a secure cycling facility

Store your bike in a secure bike locker where possible. Image: RACV

Choose the right bike for the task

If you're lucky to have more than one bike, make sure you choose the most suitable bike for cycling through the city. Avoid gravel bikes and mountain bikes in favour of a road bike (your tyres will thank you for it) or even an e-bike - just make sure you have enough charge.

Park and lock your bike safely

Choosing a safe location to park your bike is about more than preventing bike theft or properly locking your bicycle. Secure bike parking facilities provide a safe space away from traffic to get your bike secured or get ready for the ride home. If your workplace doesn’t have a secure place to leave your bike and get changed, consider bicycle parking options provided by the City of Melbourne.

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