At Bikmo, we’re bike geeks that love our daily cycle commute to the office. According to Cycling Ireland, latest figures show an estimated 510,000 people within the Republic of Ireland enjoyed cycling as a form of exercise in 2020.
The benefits of commuting by bike are clear: improved health and well-being, no costs, greener cities. As cycling experts, we know the happiness that comes from riding a bike, whether for work or play. However, there are some precautions cyclists need to take to make their commute as safe and stress-free as possible. That’s why we’ve created this guide to commuting by bike. Read on to find out the real health benefits from cycling, get tips for cycling to work safely and laugh at all our commuter adventures.
Commuting by bike boosts your health
How does cycling to work boost our health? A study by the University of Glasgow revealed startling health benefits for cyclists. Researchers studied over 260,000 people over a 5-year span and found that cycling to work can cut a rider’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer in half.
It’s well-documented: there are endless health benefits from your daily bike commute. Here are just some of them:
Cycling is good for your heart
Cycling is good for heart health. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles per week halves our risk of coronary heart disease. Cycling can add months to your estimated life expectancy too. In a study featured within the journal from Environmental Health Perspectives, people who shifted from driving to cycling for short trips saw an increase to their estimated life expectancy by 3-14 months.
Cycling helps you stay fit and well
Cycling enables us to become fitter and healthier. We’ve made a few calculations using Bicycling’s cycling calorie calculator. Based on the average commuting distance of 9.3 miles, the average commuting speed of 23.7kph and the average male weight of 13.6 stone – the average commute allows you to burn approximately 575 calories per ride (one way).
Cycling is good for your muscles
Cycling increases general muscle function gradually, and thanks to it being a low impact sport, you don’t run the risk of over-exercise or strain as you do with other sports. By cycling regularly to work, you will strengthen your leg muscles and increase the mobility of your joints.
Cycling can help to enhance our mental health and personal well-being too. A Science Direct study showed how aerobic exercise – like cycling and running – can significantly reduce anxiety. Here are a few clear benefits:
Feeling less stressed
According to research by the Stanford Calming Technology Lab, by commuting by bike, you’ll feel 40% less stressed than before. The research was found by analysing data produced by 1,000 cyclists who rode over 20,000 commutes using Spire – a wearable device that monitors stress levels and helps reduce tension.
A deeper night’s sleep
Cycling will help you get a great night’s sleep according to a study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine. Researchers asked sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle 20-30 minutes every other day and found that the insomniacs fell asleep in half the time it had previously taken. Also increasing their sleep duration by one hour.
Enhancing our personal well-being
A study released from the UEA Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York (2014) concluded that cycling to work improves our well-being. They studied around 18,000 commuters over 10 years. The analysis showed how those who commuted to work by riding or walking felt happier and were more productive at work.
The cycling kit you will need to commute by bike
Have you got the right gear? Safety on the road is so important, especially during the cold winter months. Investing in high-quality reflective clothing and lights is a must for road safety. Here’s what you need:
What bike to use
If you have a choice in what bike to use, there are some things to look for. Bikes with clearance for mudguards to avoid getting a wet behind when walking into the office, and a comfortable geometry are perfect for riding into work. Despite this, any bike in working order can be suitable for commuting.
Appropriate clothing and lighting
With 15% of accidents occurring in dark and low light conditions, it’s important that you invest in lights for your bike, as well as reflective clothing. Although it’s not a legal requirement that you wear a helmet, it can save your life if you’re involved in an incident.
Hi-visibility clothing is the best way to be seen by fellow cyclists and vehicles. Hi-vis jackets and gilets are good options, as well as strips that can be worn around your ankles or arms.
Helmet cameras are gaining popularity among people who cycle to work. ‘Touch wood’ this doesn’t happen to you but if you have an accident, a helmet camera can provide you with vital evidence in your defence.
General safety tips for cycling to work
David George, our Founder of Bikmo says: “It is so encouraging and motivating to see how many people have opted to commute to work by bicycle in recent years.
When considering the cost savings and health benefits, it’s not hard to see why. It’s very important to us however those cyclists take every precaution to ensure that their commute is as safe and stress-free as possible”.
Cycling in the city
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.
At Bikmo, we have a range of insurance cover options for the commuter. We want you to have a smooth ride but should the worst happen – we’ve got your back. This includes damage cover if a crash happens or your bike gets stolen. Get a quote and let us help you find the best plan for your journey.
Know the route
Traffic is far heavier and more congested in rush hour. So, get an idea of the commute time and practice your route, prior to the day you ride to work for the first time.
Signal like you mean it
Signalling is imperative to commuting safely. Signal like you meant it, and always remember to check over your shoulder early before changing position.
Ride with confidence
You have as much right to be on the road as anyone, but there’s no place for arrogance. Ride with confidence, but remember to keep your wits about you and be sensible at all times.
Road positioning and signalling are key at roundabouts. Always give way to the right, and take the appropriate lane as you approach the roundabout, checking and signalling early to notify all road users.
Don’t fall into the angry commuter category. Tensions can certainly run high on the roads in the morning but stay calm with aggressive road users and give thanks when kind gestures are given.
Know when to dismount
If you’re feeling tired or unsafe, dismount and walk. The key is knowing where to dismount, as cycling over pavements and pedestrian crossings is illegal and also inconsiderate to fellow road users and pedestrians.
Traffic light control
Don’t be tempted to jump red lights, as not only is it illegal, it’s also a dangerous move. Be aware of your lane and ride with confidence so that drivers don’t squeeze past dangerously or attempt to turn left whilst you’re riding straight.
Overtaking to the right
Overtaking to the right is best for visibility. Filtering up the inside lane of traffic should only ever be done when traffic is completely stationary. Never go up the inside of a long vehicle that has a restricted view.
Know the rules
As a road user, it is very important that you’re aware of the Rules of the Road. Give yourself a quick refresher of the rules for cycling, and enjoy getting to work safely on your bike.
Slow and steady
Keep things slow and steady on your commute. Be aware of your surroundings, especially fellow cyclists, cars and pedestrians. Speeding will only decrease your alertness and increase your chances of a nasty collision.
Watch out for potholes
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, 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.
Invest in a good lock
A good, solid D-Lock with an extra cable for the front wheel is a good security option, and won’t weigh you down. The new HipLok GOLD can be fastened around your waist for extra comfort. Read more about the best locks on our Ultimate Bike Lock Guide.
Before joining the traffic on your bike we recommend that you read through the Rules of the Road.
And finally some moments all bike commuters will go through
Remember the loss of feeling in your fingers, arriving at work like a drowned rat or even the time you went full Lycra and forgot your trousers? Read on for 15 commuter struggles that are a little too real…
- The freak shower. The unexpected downpour that leaves you drenched – just in time for your team meeting.
- The insatiable hunger. The morning ride that induces an appetite that requires a second breakfast at your desk.
- The chainring tattoo. That tell-tale slick of oil down your calf that always seems to time with your most important meeting.
- The colleagues that call you crazy. You’re proud that you’re hardcore after battling the elements on your commute but everyone else just calls you ‘crazy’.
- The horror when you realise you’ve only got full Lycra. That time you went full Lycra and forget to pack a pair of work trousers to change into…Oops!
- The worry that your bike is okay. The work day is consumed with fretting about your bike being safe.
- The passive-aggressive over-taking of others. You try to beat other cycle commuters but they catch up at the lights and overtake you. Sigh.
- The tears streaming down your face. When that cold air hits your face, your eyes start to water, leaving tear-stained streaks down your cheeks.
- The awkwardness of meeting your boss at the traffic lights. You’ve finally broken free from work but your boss has pulled up alongside you at the lights. Awkward small talk ensues.
- The risk of underdressing. You often choose comfort and practicality over smartness but high-vis doesn’t rock the management team. Nope…
- The arrival at the office. Nothing tells people you’re late for work more than when you bashfully make your way in full Lycra to the toilets.
- The rage when another colleague has swiped the only bike spot. You’ve bagged rights to the bike space, only to find it occupied by a colleague on a conveniently sunny day.
- The loss of feeling in your fingers. This is a risk during winter when no glove is warm enough. Computer work is delayed for at least an hour, of course.
- The dilemma of going full Lycra. That stressful decision in the morning about whether to go full sport mode (Lycra) or to adopt a casual look that reduces the faff of changing.
- The dread of wet shoes on the ride home. You’ve been caught in a downpour and you let your soggy shoes fester in your bag. Until…you have to put them back on for the ride home. Squish…