Want to benefit from a healthier, happier and less stressful commute? We know that getting started on a bike can be a daunting task so we wrote 7 tips, to help you get on with your new commute to work!
1. Be prepared
Step one: plan your route. By thinking ahead and using a couple of trick and tools you’ll be able to plan your route with ease. One way to do this is by using maps specially designed for cycling. We recommend @RoutePlanRoll’s Free London Cycle Map for first-time commuters. If you need turn-by-turn instruction try Blubel, our cycling navigator that connects to your smartphone and finds the best and safest routes for you. Planning your route ensures that you concentrate on enjoying your ride while feeling confident you know where you’re going.
2. Have the right bag
This one is mostly down to personal preference: some opt of a rucksack, other prefer to use a pannier. Although the rucksack is the more popular option because many of us already own one, panniers may be right for you if you have a lot of things to carry with you. You might prefer having the extra weight on your bike rather than your back.
3. Safety first!
To stay safe, it is important that you have lights on the front and rear of your bike when it’s dark. Not only is this a legal requirement, it can also be a fun way to add some edge and uniqueness to your bike. Wearing a helmet is a simple way to protect yourself in case of a collision or if you fall off your bike. A bike bell lets other road users know you’re there, which can prevent accidents. When you ring your Blubel you can report hazards on the app, which is used to improve routing in the wider cycling community – it’s a win-win!
4. Lock up
Avoid the dreaded feeling of suddenly realising your bike has vanished by getting yourself a trustworthy bike lock. With Blubel you can even mark the spot where you left your bike, a huge help for those of us with forgetful tendencies! Make sure to lock up your frame and wheels, especially if your wheels are quick release. Don't leave your bike in unsecured parking spots.
Bike Lock from Grasp Inc: http://www.grasplock.com/
5. Stay smart and fresh after your ride
You don’t need to be going super fast to enjoy your commute. By keeping a steady, reasonable pace you’ll be more aware of what’s going on around you and you won’t break a sweat. If you tend to cycle faster make sure you have a spare pair of shoes in your bag, or even better yet, leave a pair at work to change into. Other items you can bring are deodorant, dry shampoo and any toiletries you might need, clean wipes for example, (especially if your office doesn’t have showers). A simple and light ‘freshening up’ kit prevents you from staying sweaty all day at work. Your colleague will appreciate this too! :-)
6. Ease into it
f you’re a beginner it’s wise to take it slow when you want to switch to cycling for your commute. You could try cycling to work twice a week and switch to the bus or train the rest of the time, and slowly increasing the number of days you cycle in. This will ensure that you ease into it, and take some time to reflect on your progress and things you learn on the way.
Illustration by @Kirk Wallace, Animation by Latham Arnott
7. Be confident
Confidence is key when it comes to cycling. The more confident you are, the more in control and safer you will be. Managing successfully to ride away from the curb, do last-minute urgent maneuvers, navigate through busy junctions, etc. all come with practice. We highly recommend taking a lesson or two with a local cycling instructor. Some local councils offer them for free!