by Nick Clarke
In our previous blog we had a look at the benefits of actively travelling with your feet and cycling, including the numerous health advantages. We’ve now put together some cycling top tips for you, to keep you safe both on and off-road.
Always check your bike before a ride
Check your tyres are pumped up to the correct pressure, adjust your saddle to be comfortable and don’t forget to dress for the weather – multiple layers of clothing work best so you can warm up and cool down quickly.
If you’re sharing the road with cars – you should act like a car. You’re operating a vehicle, just like everybody else. Stick to the left and before overtaking a parked vehicle, other cyclist or a pothole, check your blind spot and signal your manoeuvre. Always make it obvious what you’re planning to do for other road users.
“If you’re cycling through town and feel uncomfortable you can always get off and walk alongside your bike,” says Sophie, assistant programme manager at Energy Saving Trust.
When on slower urban roads, don’t be afraid to move to the middle of the road for a little bit. This is the safest place to be – cars are less likely to attempt risky overtakes and you are more visible and less likely to be in an accident. Just make sure you move back into the left if you move onto a faster road or if there is a safe, clear cycle path.
Look at your options
If you need some assistance with your cycling, why not go electric? E-bikes have an electric motor and battery attached, to help you cover more ground than on a conventional cycle. E-bikes are ideal for anyone who needs a bit of help on longer journeys, with the added bonus of speeding up your journey time. You can get between 25-100 miles of pedalling assistance on a single charge.
Learn basic bike repair
If you have a bike, it will save you lots of money and hassle if you learn some basic bike maintenance. There’s nothing worse than getting a puncture on your way home from a long day at work – Cycling UK has a great simple guide on this.
Find an enjoyable route
Finding nice routes to enjoy is important – busy roads aren’t a good experience for any cyclist. Try out several different routes to places to find the best ones.
Our monitoring and evaluation manager Gill says: “Cycling is cheap, quick, fun and environmentally friendly. I get to enjoy a scenic tour of London’s amazing sights travelling to the office. Plus, I get home having already done my exercise for the day.”
If you’re just starting out, we recommend trying cycling in summer when there’s more light and better weather. This will better prepare you for winter, when you will you’ll want to make sure you have decent lights and wind/waterproof outer wear. As long as you keep yourself warm and comfortable, cycling can still be enjoyable in less pleasant weather, and you can avoid squeezing into busy public transport.
Not sure where to store your bike? There are many bike racks in public places, but ensure you keep your bike secure with two locks, including a U-lock if in a public place. If at home, you can store it on a walled bike-rack, in the shed, garage or even in the garden. Cyclehoop also offers on-street cycle parking rentals in Edinburgh and London.
If you don’t have secure bike storage or showers at work, try to raise it with your employer – most workplaces have cycle schemes and might offer facilities for cyclists.
Cycle with friends
Cycling can be an enjoyable and even relaxing activity without the need for anything – or anyone – else, but there’s always the option to make it social. Why not find a friend and go on an adventure together? It’s incredibly easy to cycle outside of towns and cities, dipping into the countryside when the weather is nice, or even exploring abroad.
Energy Saving Trust’s office manager Stephi did just that: “While travelling a few years ago, a friend and I got bored of relaxing on beaches and decided instead to buy bikes at the local market for £50 and ride off into the sunset. It remains a good lesson to me that I probably don’t need that shiny new piece of gear to get out there and have an adventure.”
So why not discover your energy, find your feet, and get on a bike.