Top Tips for Cycle Commuting
As passionate and hardy cycle-commuters, the team at Bike for Good have put together this handy list of tips for cycle commuting. Don’t be intimidated! If you change your wheels, you will change your life.
Preparation is key
- Check the weather the night before and prepare your clothing and bag. We recommend using weather apps such as Met Office or AccuWeather.
- Remember to check the weather for your commute home the night before too, we all know that in Scotland it can be blazing sunshine in the morning but raining cats and dogs by 5pm!
- If your commute is long, check the wind forecast. A windy day can alter commute time by 10-15 minutes sometimes, and you will want to know this so you can avoid being late.
- Always plan your route. Then you won’t be flustered whilst you are riding and therefore less likely to compromise your own safety. Check your Glasgow cycle map which you should be able to pick up a copy of at any Aye Cycle organisation.
- If you work near the Clyde, make time to stop in at Glasgow Coffee Outside on a Wednesday morning for a free coffee and a chat.
Keep your bike in tip-top shape
- Go for preventative, not reactive bike maintenance. Have your bike properly serviced a few times a year. Not only does this help with longevity of parts, it also ensures your safety.
- Ensure you look after your brakes, in wet weather things can become hairy and your brakes could save your life.
- Know where your local bike shop is! Where is close to your home, and where is close to your workplace?
- Learn how to take your wheels off and fix a puncture, in case this happens to you when you are nowhere near a bike shop (replace the tube, fix the puncture when you get home). If you are not confident in your maintenance skills, take a class and learn!
- Carry disposable gloves on your commute, in case you have to fix a roadside puncture.
- There are many divided opinions on wearing a helmet, but for your own safety we recommend wearing a helmet. You only get one brain, so we advise taking good care of it. On that note, it is worth buying a good quality helmet, it can be the difference between a head injury, or not.
- It is the law that you must have lights on your bike in the dark. In winter you will probably need these for your commute to and from work (in Scotland, anyway), but even in the spring and summer it is good practice to have a set in your bag anyway.
- We generally recommend USB rechargeable lights, as you save on buying disposable batteries and you can recharge anywhere you have access to a USB point (your work computer for example). Keep them charged, and carry spare lights just in case.
- A good quality lock will give you peace of mind if you need to leave your bike locked outside.
- A waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers. There’s not much more to say on this!
- Full mudguards will ensure you don’t arrive to work covered in muddy puddle water.
- Some of our team wear waterproof shoes, however these can be expensive so we don’t consider them an essential. You can keep spare socks and shoes at work as a cheaper alternative to waterproof shoes.
- Your hands will thank you for buying warm and waterproof cycling gloves. These don’t have to be expensive, one of our team swears by Aldi waterproof gloves which are really cheap.
- Carrying a pump and a patch kit will probably come in handy. We think it’s better to carry these things and not need them, rather than need them and not have them.
- Decide whether you would be more comfortable with a backpack or panniers, this is personal choice. In hotter months, carrying a backpack can get pretty warm so that is for you to consider.
Riding your bike
- Practise your route in advance if you haven’t ridden it before. Do it on a weekend when you’re not rushing for work, and time yourself. This way you’ll know roughly how long it will take you and where you are going, which should relieve some stress on your first day cycle commuting.
- The beauty of a bike is that you can travel through green spaces and down quiet side streets. It’s not all battling traffic on main roads! If you are Glasgow-based, Bike for Good can help you plan a quieter, greener route if this is something you are not confident to research yourself.
- Consider a cycle buddy! Does your partner want to cycle to work too? Have you got a work friend that would like a buddy to ride with? If you are new to cycle-commuting some people find it less intimidating to ride with someone else initially.
- Cyclepaths and shared paths work the same way as roads, stick to the left and make sure you hand-signal.
- If roads are extremely busy, or narrow, it is ok to ride ‘like a car’, in the centre of the road so you are visible – it is much safer than clinging to the curb and potentially being out of drivers eyeline.
- If you are competitive, or like to keep track of your progress, sign up for Strava and record all your commutes. Warning: it can get addictive.
- Enjoy the ride! Think of all the benefits you are getting from this (physical, mental, financial, environmental) and those thoughts will help get you through when the weather is less than perfect!
Bike for Good can help you with buying a bike and accessories such as locks, helmets, lights and more. We can also help you devise a route, service your bike, and teach you the skills on how to maintain it yourself. Get in touch!