Considering starting to ride your bike to work? Maybe commuting has become more tempting now summer is here and we need to reduce using public transport as the world emerges from coronavirus lockdown?
Whether your commute will take you 15 minutes or 15 miles, check out our six top tips to get you started cycling to work!
Cycle with confidence and purpose
If you’re new to riding in traffic, the key is to be cautious yet confident.
Rather than hugging the kerb as you commute in a bid to make yourself as small as possible to allow vehicles past, you should remain around two meters out of the gutter, where you are safe from pedestrians or pets stepping into your way.
Taking this position in the road also ensures that drivers act mindfully and give you space when they pass rather than just whizzing past your shoulder.
When you approach junctions or busy patches on your cycle to work, act confidently and purposefully. Ensure your intentions are clear so that drivers can anticipate your movements and actions with both your body language and your hand signals. The worst thing you can do is be wavering or hesitant, as this forces drivers to second-guess your actions.
Never trust the weather!
Unfortunately, riding to work in glorious sunshine doesn’t always mean blue skies will meet you on your ride home. We advise you always take a quick check of the weather forecast the night before your commute, but don’t take that prediction as guaranteed!
It’s best to keep a thin packable rain jacket in your bag at all times, just in case. For that reason, it’s also advised to fit mudguards to your bike if you have a dedicated commuter bicycle.
What kind of bag?
The way you choose to carry your luggage can make a huge difference to the comfort of your commute. If you plan on carrying clothing, a laptop and your lunch, you’re best off investing in purpose-made cycling storage solutions.
The most popular options are panniers, which sit either side of the front or rear wheel. These evenly distribute the load across your bike to ensure that your balance is not compromised. Rear-loading panniers are the most popular option as they have less of a ‘drag’ on your steering.
Handlebar bags and rear wheel racks are also good options if you have a lot to carry on your ride, though these solutions will not have the same storage capacity as panniers.
If you only have lighter loads to carry, get a cycle-specific backpack. Backpacks designed with the cyclist in mind will have proper lumbar support to reduce pressure on your back and padded straps to ensure you don’t get sore shoulders. Unless your commute is very short, avoid cross-shoulder bags as these will throw off your balance and can be bad for your back due to the uneven load across your torso.