Cycling is fun, good for you and can save you money in transportation costs. It’s also easy on the environment. Plus, technological advances and changes in materials have made today’s bicycles lighter, stronger and faster than their predecessors — making them that much easier to ride. Here’s same expert advice to help you get started.
Advice for commuting by bike
- Unless you’re already fairly fit, 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) is about as far as you should be going if you’re commuting by bicycle. If work or school is any further away, you’ll probably need too much time to make the trip or be too tired to work or study properly.
- Plan your route before setting out. Use bike paths where available and only use roads when you have to. You may need maps and/or pointers from local cycling groups to find the best route.
- Check out the parking facilities where you work. You’ll need somewhere convenient and dry to store your bike. Car parks often have corner spaces that aren’t large enough for cars. If there aren’t any at your work, ask your employer to consider providing bike racks where you can lock your bike while at work.
- Contact your local cycling organization. They may be able to offer helpful suggestions. Many cities support bicycle commuting as part of their strategy to cut down on the number of cars on the roads.
- To boost the range of your bicycle, consider taking it on a train for part of the journey. The rules and charges for trains and bringing bikes on board vary from place to place, so check before you head out. In some cities, you can convey your bike for free on weekends and in off-peak periods.
Choosing a bike
Different bicycles are designed for different purposes. You’ll save a lot of energy if you choose the right one for your needs.
- Buy a second-hand bike to begin with, or wait until your nearest cycle shop has its next sale. There’s no point in buying an expensive model, with all the bells and whistles, if you wind up not taking to cycling.
- Ask for advice. Seemingly small factors — such as seat height, the position of handlebars and gear adjustment — can make all the difference between a comfortable ride and an unnecessarily arduous one. Be honest with bike shop staff about your fitness level, preferences and needs.
Practice safe cycling
- Urban cycle paths are often shared with other traffic, even when they are marked with bicycle symbols, so take care at all times.
- Look for a safe route if you’re commuting to work or school. In many cities busy streets are complemented by quieter back roads.
- Always wear a helmet. In a serious accident, it can mean the difference between life and death.
- Wear reflective clothing if you’re going to be out after dark. Fix a light to the front and rear of your bicycle and make sure both lights are switched on from dusk onwards.
- Watch out for people in parked cars opening doors. Often they don’t check for cyclists before they get out.
- Buy a sturdy lock so you can park your bike, confident that it will be there when you return. If your bike has an easily removable front wheel, make sure the lock secures both wheels.
- Don’t be tempted to run traffic lights or use sidewalks. Obey the rules of the road, just as you would if you were driving a car.
- If you’re taking your bicycle on the train, make sure your bicycle doesn’t block doorways or aisles, causing difficulty for other passengers.
If you’re thinking of starting to bicycle in to work or school, keep all of this advice in mind to help make getting into it easier and more enjoyable.