Bikmo’s big guide to commuting by bike
As cycling enthusiasts, we know the happiness and elation which comes from riding a bike. Now, more than ever, cycling is becoming the best possible option of getting about for many people. In comparison to cars, it doesn’t require a large financial commitment, and while riding a bike it is much easier to follow social distancing rules. That’s why we say, with the warmer days approaching and road being quieter than ever, ditch the doom and gloom and try cycling to work or wherever – you won’t regret it. And before you pick up your bike for more than a sporty ride, there might be some more rules and tips to consider. To make your commute to work, picking up groceries or running your necessary errands a great experience you should read our guidebook of commuting by bike.
Starting with cycling to work
With the good always comes the bad, so as much as we hope your experiences are positive, remember there are precautions to take to make you’re cycling to work as safe as possible. Here are our five simple recommendations for commuters:
Slow and steady
We’ve all been there, late for that 9 am meeting or you’ve slept in way past your alarm clock. Your natural reaction would be to ramp up the speed as you cycle to work, however, don’t be tempted by this! It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, especially fellow cyclists, automobiles and possible pedestrians looking to cross the road. Speeding will only decrease your alertness and increase your chances of a nasty collision.
Perhaps the most obvious, hi-visibility clothing is the best way to be seen by fellow cyclists and vehicles. Hi-viz jackets and gilets are good options when the weathers a tad chilly, or you can wear hi-viz strips which can be worn around your ankles/arms. As the sun is making more of an appearance, you may like to opt for a hi-viz jersey, and lucky for you fluro clothing has become fashionable once more. If you’d like to increase your visibility read up on our bicycle visibility guide.
Watch out for potholes
Granted there really is no accurate way for you to know when a pothole is looming, however, keeping your attention ahead of you and to the road should definitely reduce your chances of flying off the bike.
If you’ve never cycled to work or to your end destination, it might be worth practising the route beforehand, or at the very least plan your route before you set off. Not only will this make you a more confident cyclist, but it’ll prepare you for things like difficult roundabouts, blind cycling spots and congested areas which could usually cause issues.
Helmet cameras are increasingly being used by people who cycle to work. They carry with them a number of benefits, most importantly however gloomy this may be, if you were in the unfortunate position of making a cycle insurance claim. ‘Touch wood’ this doesn’t happen to you, but the last thing you want when being involved in an accident which isn’t your fault is to be in a ‘my word against yours’ situation.
Not only can a helmet camera provide you with vital evidence in your defence, but it could also be proof against false allegations, and will increase confidence when cycling to work.
And before joining the traffic on your bike we would also advise you to carefully read through The Highway Code – Rules for Cyclists.
Cycling in a large city takes some getting used to, and the more you do it, the more you’ll start to recognise certain offenders breaking codes of urban cycling etiquette. If you’re nervous or unsure about cycling in the city, don’t worry, your confidence will come with experience. Here’s a list of:
Seven things to avoid when cycling in the city
Jumping red lights
For the 10 seconds, this will save you, we honestly wouldn’t bother. Traffic lights serve a purpose and cyclists are not exempt from the rule. Wait your turn, avoid mowing down a pedestrian and go when it’s green. Don’t give cars even more reason to kick off at cyclists.
Try and be consistent with your movement and cycle in a straight line and not a crazy zigzag. Always signal to let people know what you’re up to and don’t make a rash decision to leap across the road if you’ve missed your right-hand turn.
Taking a phone call
We should not need to mention this but the number of times we’ve seen people having a full-blown natter whilst also trying to work out a busy junction. IT CAN WAIT! Headphones are also not advised as you’re less likely to hear important warnings and will be generally less observant. Best to put the technology away completely – why not having a small smartphone break?
Sneaking up on vehicles
One of the most dangerous things you can do is try and beat a vehicle to a turn. If you turn at the same time you will be in a very hairy situation between the vehicle who most likely hasn’t seen you and the pavement. Just wait a bit, let them turn and then go yourself on a clear signal. If the turn is just after the traffic lights, still well at the front of the traffic at a red light so that everyone can see you are there.
Riding on the pavement
When we are off the bike in the role of the pedestrian, it infuriates us to see cyclists riding along the pavement, barging you out of the way when there is a perfectly good road running alongside. It won’t be long before you are asked to leave anyway unless there is a cycle lane within the pavement.
Whilst it’s very impressive – look-mom-no-hands-moment does not belong on a busy road. No one is going to think you’re cool when you fail to break and go careering into a car door. Two hands unless signalling.
Wearing your Sunday best
Unfortunately, cities are grimy, there is pollution, you will get splashed by puddle water and will most likely get a slick of oil on your calf. If commuting it’s best to take a change of clothes or wear something that will hide the urban dirt.
Commuting has so many positives, from the cost-efficiency to the effort on our mental health and fitness. But, like everything in life, there are some struggles that we have to face at some point. So to top our commuting guide off, sooner or later you will relate to our:
Top 15 struggles that are all too real for the everyday commuter
1. The freak shower that no weather app reported
There is always one downpour that not even the most updated weather reporter seems to detect which leaves you caught off-guard in the wrong cycle clothing, drenched in water.
2. The insatiable hunger
The morning ride can induce an appetite within you that almost always requires a second breakfast at your desk. You find yourself suddenly spending most of your salary on Pret-a-Manger treats.
3. The chainring tattoo
There is the inevitable risk of that tell-tale slick of oil down your calf that always seems to time with your most important meeting.
4. The colleagues that call you crazy
You feel proud that you’ve spent the entire winter battling the elements on your work commute but everyone else in the office just calls you ‘crazy’. Secretly you think they’re the crazy ones for getting squashed in a train carriage every day.
5. The horror when you realise you’ve forgotten your pants
If you’ve opted for full Lycra that morning, there is a high possibility that sooner or later you will forget to pack a pair of pants to change into.
6. The worry that your bike is OK where you left it
Spreadsheets, emails, and important meetings are all peppered with distracting and worrisome thoughts on whether your bike is safe where you locked it up.
7. The passive-aggressive over-taking of others
Particularly during the summer months, an entire fleet of fair-weather cyclists take to the road to discover the fruits of the cycle commute. You find yourself trying to beat them off the lights only for them to catch up at the next set and pull in front of you. Tutting ensues.
8. The tears streaming down your face
As soon as that cold air hits your face, your eyes start to uncontrollably water, leaving tear-stained streaks down your cheeks. Especially inconvenient for mascara wearers.
9. The awkwardness of meeting your boss at the traffic lights
You’ve finally broken free from the office and you’re really looking forward to whizzing off on your bike into the sunset only to see that your boss has pulled alongside you at the lights and strikes up some awkward small talk.
10. The risk of being under-dressed
The regular commuter will often choose comfort and practicality over smartness which is fine in the context of the road but often leaves you feeling a little self-conscious in the board room.
11. The clip-clopping sound of the cleat through the office
Nothing tells people you’re late for work than when all of your colleagues are already dutifully sitting at their desks only to all look up as you bashfully make your way in full Lycra to the toilets.
12. The rage when another colleague has swiped the only bike spot
You’ve been cycling into you work since the day you signed the contract and have silently claimed rights to the limited in-office bike space only to one day find it occupied by a colleague on a conveniently sunny day.
13. The loss of feeling in your fingers
This is a particular risk in the winter when no glove is strong enough to shield your hands from the icy blow. This means typing is delayed for at least an hour.
14. The dilemma of going lifestyle or full lycra
Cycling to work is meant to minimise your stress levels, but there is still that tricky decision in the morning on whether to go full-sport mode or to adopt a lifestyle look that reduces the faff of changing in the office loos.
15. The dread of wet shoes on the ride home
You’ve been caught in a freak shower on the ride in and rather than disgust your colleagues by hanging your sodden shoes on the radiator, you let them fester in your bag until that dreaded hour when you have to put them back on for the ride home.