Cycle to Work - it's easier than you think!
More and more people are commuting by bicycle and improving their health, productivity, saving money and improving the state of the planet. Plus it feels great and they are setting a great example to the next generation!
Top Tips for new cycle-commuters in the UKMost cyclists are also car owners (and so most DO pay vehicle excise duty) so should know most of the rules of the road. There are some cycling specific rules to be aware of, so please see [here]
Very Important: NEVER position yourself alongside vehicles at junctions, because you can easily become hidden in the driver's blind spot, especially if the vehicle is large. This can have fatal consequences.
It is much safer to position yourself in front of or behind vehicles at junctions, so drivers can see you.
Courtesy to other Road Users
Your ego may tell you are fast, but even the best cyclist will likely be the slowest thing on the road.
If it is safe to do so, show appreciation to drivers who remain behind you when there is oncoming traffic, by giving a little wave of thanks as they safely pass you.
This is a valuable exchange of mutual respect which has a positive effect on road safety. Drivers who have been thanked are more likely to be considerate again.
Most bikes will do for commuting, so long as they fit you properly and are roadworthy.
A road bike is going to be better for use on the road, and a mountain bike is going to be best if you need to cross fields, muddy tracks and perhaps mountains!
Muguards are a great addition for wet conditions.
Tax Benefits to Employees
The UK government offers tax deductions to cyclists who want to buy bikes, clothing, equipment etc. through a work-based salary sacrifice / NI system. Progressive employers can get guidance on how to provide this to their employees - see [here]
Don't buy cheap tyres - they are false economy! Get a reputable brand - we have found Vittoria, Continental and Michelin to be excellent.
If you have a mountain bike and want to commute on tarmac, DO NOT use knobbly off-road tyres!
Knobbly tyres are very inefficient on paved roads and will make you pedal MUCH harder than you need to.
Instead, choose street tyres such as Continental City Ride tyres, which will be faster and far more comfortable.
Ensure the pressure is up near the stated maximum for the tyre (printed on side of tyre) for best efficiency and puncture resistance.
Get yourself a track pump with built-in pressure gauge, which will make life much easier when checking tyre pressure at home.
Contrary to popular belief a fat, wide padded saddle is MUCH LESS comfortable on rides of more than a mile or two, than a narrow firm saddle. Look at the saddles used by experienced cyclists, they are always narrow and firm.
This is because wide padded saddles tend to cause more chafing and don't give your sit-bones stable support.
When using a narrow saddle for the first few rides, start with short journeys. Your bum will gradually become used to the saddle and comfort will improve greatly, but don't try to do too much too soon. Intially, limit rides to 1 or 2 miles at most for a week or so. You will soon find you can tackle gradually longer rides with comfort.
This is really important - we often see cyclists with saddles far too low. A low saddle will make pedalling much harder and will over-stress your knees.
Your knees should have a slight bend when your feet are at their lowest position on the pedals. Don't have the saddle too high - your knees should never be straight at any point when pedalling, or you will injure your knee joints.
When starting out as a new cycle commuter allow plenty of time for your journey. Ride gently, so that you are never out of breath. You will soon find that the more you ride, the fitter you will become and your average speed increases.
Keep commuting fun - don't see it as race in the early days, be comfortable and your enjoyment will be so much greater.
Racing can come later :-)
There is no doubt that modern cycling-specific clothing is the best choice for cycle commuting. Office clothes are a bad choice for cycling! Sweaty, smelly office clothes covered in road spray won't help your career prospects at work! Change when you get there.
Wear clothes which are bright and easy for other road users to see. Fluorescent orange is the most visible clothing colour.
If you are riding at night, a GOOD set of lights, front and rear, is essential. Ensure they are angled properly so as not to dazzle other road users.
We hope you give it a try - it can make such an improvement to your life and the environment we all live in!
Graham LAMING - FCIM
Marketing Manager and cycle commuter.