So you finally decided to be brave and cycle to work (hooray!), or maybe it was a spur of a moment kinda thing because someone bought you a bike (lucky you!). Whether it is the ‘new year, new you’ kinda attitude, the cost of public transport or anything else that brought you to this page here are my top tips that will help you love your new way to commute to work:
- First things first; make sure you have all the equipment for a safe ride. Bright lights (white for front, red for back), helmet and a bell. It helps to wear bright clothing at night. To be honest black is my favourite colour to wear. And helmets are so ugly. But this is my life we are talking about, and I love living, so I don’t mind finding something to tick both the safety and the fashion boxes. Those things do exist.
- Plan your route, have a look on google maps what is the best way to get to your destination. Avoid busy junctions that have buses and lorries, it is best to not get involved with those when you first start cycling in London and might not be as confident. I personally prefer cycling on quiet and pretty streets and always do mini detours that may take a bit longer, but enjoy every moment of it. Make sure to allow plenty of time for your first commute too as you will be stopping regularly checking whether you took the right turn and not completely lost.
- If you do stop to check your phone make sure to do it in a safe place off the road and not obstructing or standing in anyone’s way.
- Don’t be scared of a lorry or a bus when you approach it. The key is to stay back. You also need to make sure you understand that buses and lorries have much larger blind spots and therefore will never see you overtaking them on either side. I will go to a measure of never overtaking a lorry. I see a lorry, I stay back. I will never try overtaking a bus on the left side but only on the right after I made sure the bus driver saw me in the mirror overtaking him.
- In London cycle on the left. It might be an obvious choice to do on the road, but this one is specifically important for riding along the canals.
- Indicate when you turn with your arms as much as you can remember. It really helps other road users to know where you are going.
- Watch out for people coming out of stationery cars. It helps to not cycle too close to parked cars in case they decide to open the door into you.
- Don’t wear heels – once I came off my bike because a pedestrian jumped in front of me. I wouldn’t have had any injuries if I wasn’t wearing heeled boots. Instead I ended up having a sprained ankle for 2 months.
- Integrate cycling slowly into your life. Maybe start with cycling twice a week to work, then gradually increase it to 3, then to 4. You need to be comfortable on the bike, only then you will start to truly enjoy it.
- Have a read of the highway code it will help you understand the road.
And of course enjoy the ride!