Cycling is quicker than a car in towns, faster than walking and the bike is one of the most energy-efficient machines ever invented. The amount of energy to power a cycle three miles would only move a car 85 metres! You are also playing an important part in reducing emissions of the planet-warming gas CO2.
Work out your route before jumping on your bike on Monday morning. Take you time to plan your route and maybe try it out over a weekend to see how it goes. It’s nice to know in advance how long the journey should take. Use the ride to get to know the local area a bit better - unearth some lesser-known back roads and use quiet side roads.
Start slowly to build up your confidence and fitness level – try cycling to work once a week to start or maybe cycle part of the journey. More than 9000 people come into Torbay for work, so you could try parking your car on the outskirts of Torquay, Paignton or Brixham and cycling to work from that point.
There are over 43,000 people who both live and work in Torbay. The opportunities to commute across Torbay by bike are immense, but planning your route and being prepared are essential.
Choosing the right bike for your journey can make a real difference to your enjoyment and also your desire to commute by bike. If you are on a tight budget, ask a neighbour or friend if they have an unwanted bike in their shed - more than six million bikes are thought to be languishing unused country-wide. You could also try your local recycling centre, paper or car boot sale to find a bargain. If you are looking for a new bike view Cycle Guide for some ideas on which bike would suit you.
Once you have your bike, there are a few items that you will require to make sure you get to work safely:
- all new bikes come complete with reflectors and a bell. Don’t be tempted to take them off; they are useful bits of safety kit, improve your visibility to other road users and on shared footways a good way to warn of your approach to pedestrians.
- lights are essential for early morning/evening commutes. Recent changes in legislation mean that fitting a flashing LED rear light is fine - just remember to keep your reflector too.
- reflective clothing or tape on rucksacks or pannier bags is a good way to improve visibility.
It will happen, one day, so be prepared:
- know how to fix a puncture. Always carry or have quick access to a pump, spare tube and tyre levers - don’t resort to a pair of spoons out of your cutlery drawer!
- a can of spray lubricant and a good quality cycle oil. Lubricate/clean your bike as required. Cycling in wet/damp conditions increases wear and tear so take extra care when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Use a piece of cloth to clean wheel rims after cycling in the wet.
- tools to fit your bike - a set of allen keys is a good place to start.
- think about how you are going to transport your clothes or personal possessions. A rucksack is easy, but can leave you with a sweaty back if you are cycling over distance. A rack is very handy; pannier bags are even better, but you may not like the look or the image.
You can probably drive a car, maybe something bigger, but cycling in a town or built up area requires a different set of skills to driving a motorised vehicle.
- communication - show other drivers what you intend to do by making eye contact and use appropriate hand signals so your direction can be anticipated by other road users.
- do not ride in the gutter; motorists will squeeze you and the gutter is where all the road debris - such as broken glass - collects.
- be aware of parked cars and the potential for doors to be flung open as you pass.
- watch out for potholes, manhole covers and road markings in the wet as they can be very slippery.
- do not ride on pavements, jump red lights, undertake or sneak the wrong way up one-way streets.
- be polite and don’t lose your cool if someone gives you lip or hassle.
Make sure you bike is fit for purpose – good tyres, brakes working and handlebars pointing in the right direction. It may sound obvious, but if a bike is in a good state of repair, lubricated correctly, it will take less effort to propel it along the road. Bike Safety Check Guide will help you check the safety of your bike.
Don’t get on your bike without a helmet. There are so many different – looking ones for sale now, there is no excuse for not finding one that suits you. They are all multi-adjustable and most bike shops will not let you leave the shop without making sure the helmet fits your head correctly – no matter what size or shape your head is.
Ten Rules for Safer Cycling
Cyclist can be vulnerable on the road, especially when the weather is poor or during the hours of darkness. These simple rules are a combination of best practice, Highway Code advice, Road Traffic Act regulations and plain common sense.
- You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
- Do not cycle on a pavement where there is no legal right of way.
- Do not cycle the wrong way down a one-way street.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing to improve your visibility to other road users. Make sure you cycle is fitted with reflectors and lights as necessary for riding in darkness and poor visibility.
- Always wear a cycle helmet.
- Use cycle lanes where such facilities exist.
- In the absence of a cycle lane or shared footway, ride with care and attention on the highway.
- Position your cycle approximately 60 centimetres from the nearside kerb when riding.
- By continuous observation whilst riding, cyclists should be aware of all other traffic and how their actions may affect the rider.
- Remember, Think, Look and if it is safe – Move.
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