In The Suburbs

Stoke_on_trent_streetThere are many places you are going to end up riding however if you live or ride in the suburbs, it may seem like you have to follow an entirely different set of driving rules (they are pretty much the same, but everything just seems different). For one thing, the speed limits are likely to be a lot lower than they are on city streets and rural roads. Plus when you are in the suburbs, it is not unusual to see kids playing street games… like many of us did when we were young.

How to ride & be observant in the suburbs

  • Keep it slow
    You are never in so much of a hurry that you have to drive dangerously, and speeding on suburban streets is really driving dangerously. Be vigilant in obeying the posted speed limits; you might even want to ride slower just to be on the safe side.  There are all kinds of things that can happen, even in quiet suburbs, and if you are driving within the speed limit, you will be better able to handle any situations that may arise so you don’t get into any accidents.
  • Watch for children
    Families live in the suburbs, and there are always going to be children of all ages around, and younger ones may not always be under supervision. As noted above, you will probably find all kinds of kids playing games. Keep it slow, and honk your horn as you get close. Be on the watch for kids playing ball, just in case one chases a ball out into the street. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for dogs and cats too, because it can be pretty easy to run over someone’s precious pet without meaning to because it has run in front of you.  Also if you see or hear an ice cream van or if you are near a shop, be aware children may be close.
  • Observe parking rules
    Many streets in the suburbs have less restricted parking laws than in town.  However you may find cars parked on one side of the street, or you may not be able to use the street at all if you want to park due to permit parking. It is probably best if you have a driveway or garden path to always use it, and if you are having guests, make room for their vehicles in your driveway, or arrange for them to have transportation so they don’t have to worry about parking. If you are in an area where the parking is controlled, do not park in a spot that is not reserved for you, or you could possibly come out to find your bike gone because it has been towed away, and you will have to pay the towing and impound fees.
  • Watch out for schools
    If you are driving in an area of the suburbs where there is a primary school, you are going to find that the speed limit is probably greatly reduced or in special 20mph zones. There are also the times when there are kids all over the place, on their way to and from school, not to mention school buses pulling in and out of the gates & school run mums in cars. If it is during school start / finish time Keep your distance if you are behind a school bus or a parent who is picking up their children, and only pass if you are clear to do so. You need to slow down, and do not even think about passing parked cars until you can be sure it is safe as children may well emerge from parked cars or run across the roads in front of you to get to a parked car.
  • Rush hour
    Like with the schools, rush hour during the morning or evening commute can mean extra traffic on the roads & also increased danger as people may be thinking of getting home or to work on time so perhaps not as observant as you think. You should always allow some extra time to get where you need to go during rush hour traffic. It is often reported that accidents at rush hour account for 1 in 4 accidents on the roads.  You can always try a different route to avoid the traffic. Liven up your journey by switching your route a couple days a week to a different route. This will not just change the scenery for you, but may also help you find a quicker route as well. You probably already know that you should leave at least  a minimum of one cars length gap between other traffic  In some situations, this might seem unnecessary, but when it comes to rush hour traffic, you need to have plenty of room to allow you to stop.
  • Pedestrians & people crossing the roads.
    There are a lot more people going for a stroll in the suburbs, and many people tend to be a lot slower at crossing the road than they are on city roads where everyone is in a hurry. If you are approaching people that are walking or stood on the pavements look to see if there is anyone trying to cross the street. Remember, the pedestrian who is using a zebra crossing always has the right of way before someone who is driving. Slow down and come to a stop, and wait until they have reached the other side of the road before you drive away.
  • Carpooling
    Carpooling isn’t just restricted to cars, bikers can do it as well. Petrol is expensive, and if you and your neighbours are all commuting to work from the same area five days a week, it can add up to a lot of money so you may consider taking a mate to work on your bike in the morning. When you are riding, make sure that you are following all of the proper rules of the roads to be safe & to keep your pillion (or sidecar) passengers safe, and to show those who may not be as responsible how they should be driving. It may just rub off on them.

Living in the suburbs is the dream of many.

They are slower paced and quieter than the cities, and they are wonderful places to raise children. If you are a suburb dweller, remember to drive safely and watch for children, senior citizens and everyone else using the roads. Be considerate of everyone around you, and obey all of the traffic rules, and you will have no issues when it comes to driving in the suburbs.

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