1. Make sure your bike is in good working order.
Get your brakes, gears, lights, equipment, … checked by a pro. Top tip: properly-inflated tyres puncture less often and improve your pedalling efficiency.
2. Claim your space in the traffic lane.
Keeping to the right to cause as little hindrance as possible comes with two risks: running into the opening door of parked cars and being grazed by cars overtaking you. To avoid that happening, cycle level with the right-hand wheels of the cars in your lane. Only keep to the right when going uphill, out of courtesy. Keep to a straight course, without veering from one side to the other, so that the traffic behind you can “predict” where you are going.
3. Overtake on the left.
Overtaking on the right is dangerous. Cars don’t expect you to be there and you are not very visible. When a queue of cars is stationary, you should move past on the left or in the centre of the road. When the queue moves off again, carefully reposition yourself behind a car. If you overtake a stationary lorry, bus or tram, watch out for pedestrians who might step out in front.
4. At a red light, position yourself in front of the first car.
This allows you to always be seen and to turn left comfortably, even when there is no “Advanced Stop Line” (ASL or “cycle box”) indicated on the ground.
5. Three stages for turning left.
- A long time in advance of turning, look behind you.
- Signal with your arm to show that you intend to turn and position yourself to the left of your traffic lane.
- Place both hands back on the handlebars before turning.
6. Signal your intentions clearly.
Indicate each change of direction using your hands, arms and even facial expressions. By catching the driver’s gaze you can check that they have seen you and understand your intentions.
7. Make sure you are visible at night as well as during daylight hours.
Light-coloured or high-visibility reflective clothing, effective bike lights, reflectors, reflective bands around the ankle, … Make the most of what is available.
8. Map out your route.
Before going out, use a map to check your journey. Choose bike lanes or approved routes where available (see www.velo.irisnet.be for Brussels), or quiet roads that allow you to avoid the main roads. Be curious and explore new routes, try parallel roads, explore unknown areas at random… This is one of the pleasures of discovering your town on a bike!
9. Respect the highway code, pedestrians and other road users, showing courtesy at all times.
You can consult the Belgian highway code here.
10. Adopt a “safety first” attitude.
- Anticipate your next move: plan ahead for obstacles, breaking, changes in direction, going uphill, …
- Look far ahead while also paying attention to exactly where you are going close up.
- Remain confident: fear makes you more vulnerable to a fall or an accident.
- Beware of pedestrians, who tend to cross the road without looking.