Jul 222011
 
CommuteCyclist

If you’ve never ridden a bike to work on a regular basis commuting by bike can bring up many challenges. Having worked from home for a number of years, I travelled into Going Going Bike office’s in London by bike for the whole of the last week, experiencing the many trials and tribulations of the early morning and evening cycle commute for the first time.

Despite the busy roads in the morning, the jay-walking pedestrians and the changeable weather (this is the British summer after all), I thoroughly enjoyed my week commuting by bike. I turned up at 9am on the dot every day feeling refreshed and awake.

Benefits

Of course there are many other benefits to a cycle commute. Chiefly there are health benefits plus the savings in terms of monetary cost from having to drive in, use public transport or in the case of London use the London Underground tube system.

I heartily recommend commuting by bike to anyone. Below is guide on what you should consider if you decide to give it a go.

What bike?

Touring bikes are probably the best choice for a first time commuting by bike as it is an all-rounder. Despite being clunky in terms of weight, a touring bike always comes with a mudguard (critical with the British weather as it is) and a rack to carry panniers on both front and back of the bike. Touring bikes have a long wheelbase and relaxed geometry making for a comfortable cycle commute in an upright position. If you are looking for something slightly more sportier than a Hybrid also works well. Going Going Bike sells both Touring and Hybrid bikes if you wish to buy such a bike for your cycle commute.

Plan a cycle route

Sounds obvious, but if you are just starting out, pick a cycle route that gives you the feel of optimum safety on your cycle commute. When commuting by bike anything that means you spend less time being close to motorised traffic is important, so follow cycle lane/paths, use bus lanes or quiet residential streets whenever possible. Also make a note of local bike shops on your cycle commute. You’ll never know when you might need to use one.

Be safe

Read up on cycling safety and cycle craft. You will never be the next Mark Cavendish so go easy and be aware of everything around you both in the front and back of you on the cycle commute. There are more and more people commuting by bike than in previous years but many are inexperienced and don’t necessarily know basic cycle craft  Always communicate with motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists via hand signals, bells, or speech. A pedestrian walking out on to the road is unfortunately a common occurrence.

Wear comfortable clothes

Not everyone has shower facilities at work so make sure what you are wearing is comfortable for your cycle commute. Cargo trousers work really well with three-quarter versions and trousers particularly recommended for summer cycling. For women, Capri pants or pedal pushers are recommended. Up on top, a simple t-shirt will do in the summer but in winter months a base layer with a sweater on top keeps you warm.

Cycling essentials to carry on the cycle commute

No doubt you will carry work related stuff in your rucksack or bike pannier but it is a good idea to carry a patch and puncture kit, a spare inner tube, tyre leavers and an allen key tool kit for simple cycle maintenance problems. Also carry a pair of surgical gloves to deal with punctures and other mechanical problems to avoid getting your hands dirty. In the winter commuting by bike can become slightly more hazardous with the weather and diminishing daylight, so add lights and some form of high viz jacket to what you carry or use.

Go on a basic bike maintenance course

Learning how to fix a puncture as well as dealing with common simple mechanical problems will make you feel less panicky if you come across a problem when commuting by bike.

See also

Cycle task force helps to put the brake on cycle thefts

Two new London Superhighway routes open for business


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