This year’s National Bike Week has a special focus on encouraging more people to use their bikes to cycle to work. Part of the campaign includes a three-week National Cycle Challenge, a fun and free competition to see which companies can get most of their staff members riding a bike…
While cycling to work is undoubtedly a great idea in terms of fitness, saving money and getting from A to B in an efficient way, many workers are still too worried or unsure to do so. With this in mind, we have asked the people who do cycle to work and around our towns and cities to offer their tips and advice for commuting to work by bike.
30 cycle commuting tips – from commuters for commuters
1) Make use of Sustrans maps and council websites to find out where the dedicated bike routes and cycle ways are.
2) Even if you have a longer-distance commute you could use trains to link between towns and cities and then jump on your bike for the rest of the journey or perhaps aim to cycle the distance at least once or twice a week.
3) Drive your car to a convenient parking space and cycle the rest of the way. At least you will still benefit from being fitter and saving money.
4) Don’t feel like you have to buy an expensive bike for your commute because it’s going to get fairly trashed being used to get to work every day.
5) Turn an old bike into a single speed for less bike maintenance (that’s if you don’t live or work anywhere too hilly).
6) A Hybrid bike with some give or suspension will help on rough and pot-holed roads.
7) Add mudguards for winter cycling.
8) While wide and knobbly mtb-style tyres would make your commute harder, tyres that have a little extra grip are a good idea in wet weather and so are tyres with some added puncture-protection .
9) Make sure your bike is in excellent condition mechanically. Good brakes, reliable gears and good tyres are particularly important.
10) Always carry spare inner tubes, a puncture repair kit and a pump and know how to use it…
11) …and a small pack of wet wipes is great for cleaning up your hands afterwards.
12) If you use a rucksack to carry your clothes (or important documents), place the items inside a plastic bag when it rains or consider a fully waterproof option or rain cover. It’s surprising how much water will get through the rucksack, even on short journeys.
13) Bike skills coaching and training can help with confidence and safety on busy roads. Check out British Cycling’s Bikeability, it’s not just for kids!
14) If you happen to work during school holidays, try one of these days as your potential first commute. Traffic will be a lot quieter and you could get familiar with the route without the usual rush hour pressure.
15) Instead of hugging the gutter, as nervous riders tend to do, stay out of the gutter and ride confidently and in the “primary” position like the rest of the traffic.
16) Check over both shoulders before making a manoeuvre and make eye contact with drivers when crossing their line of vision or when crossing at junctions.
17) Beware of the blind spots of lorries and vans. A good rule is that if you can’t see their mirrors then they can’t see you either. But even so you should remember that sneaking up the inside of a large vehicle is rarely a good idea.
18) In good weather, you could wear your work clothes on the bike but pace yourself so you do not become too sweaty. That way there is no need for special cycle clothing and no need to shower/change for work.
19) Rather than thinking about whether you will cycle to work in all weathers, simply make sure you have the right clothing to wear for all weathers and just get on your bike and go.
20) Always carry a lightweight waterproof jacket because you never know when the rain will come.
21) Be seen. Wear bright clothes, such as a hi-viz gilet, a hi-viz helmet and anything bright or reflective. If you don’t want to go overboard, there are some great high-viz accessories like wrist or ankle bands to add to your normal clothing as and when needed.
22) Add bike lights to your bike, rucksack and helmet. Lights front and back are a good idea in all weathers and seasons and carrying a spare light (and/or spare battery) in case yours unexpectedly breaks or runs out is also advisable .
23) Wear a helmet.
24) Wear fingerless gloves to take some of the shock out of the handlebars on bumpy roads.
25) Don’t listen to music on your headphones because you need to hear the traffic around you.
26) Take the on-line hazard recognition tests for CBT motorcyclists. This is a very good way to raise awareness on the main dangers of cycling in traffic.
27) Don’t annoy other road users, especially drivers, by breaking the Highway Code. Jumping red lights, cycling on pavements to get around traffic etc. simply winds up drivers. Stick to the law just like all other road users and we will all get along far more harmoniously.
28) Leave spare clothes at work in case you forget to bring various items with you on your commute. Spare underwear and socks is a particularly good shout.
29) Cycle regularly so you become more confident and to remove any “awkwardness” you might feel about getting to work as a cyclist.
30) Have two breakfasts! One smaller one before your cycle commute and another afterwards. Cycling is a good excuse to eat more!