Tips for Occasional Riders


If you ride occasionally and you'd like to start riding for transport, these 3 skills for riding confidently in traffic will be a useful starting point.

  • Positioning. Hugging the kerb means other vehicles might be tempted to overtake you when they shouldn't and puts you on a collision course with potholes, drains and all the nasty debris that ends up at the side of the road (bigger vehicles' tyres push it out there). So don't skulk on the sidelines! You should never be less than 60cm/2 feet away from the edge of the road and whenever you are approaching a junction, roundabout, queue of traffic or potential hazard you should adopt the 'primary position' or 'take the lane' by moving into the middle of it. This makes you more visible and means cars can't squeeze past you dangerously. You are not an obstacle to traffic, you are traffic: behave like it!
  • They're behind you! Learn to check over your shoulder regularly. Knowing what's behind you means you can make informed decisions to keep yourself safe and be courteous to other road users. It's no fun bowling along a country lane with a bus right behind you: if you've spotted it coming early you can let it past at a convenient point so its passengers reach their destination sooner and you can get on with riding in peace. In busier areas, it helps to establish communication with other road users and means you can plan your manoeuvres ahead to make sure you negotiate junctions, roundabouts and potential hazards safely.
  • Signal safe. Make sure your intentions are crystal clear to other road users: signal early and decisively. Don't hold back from taking control of a situation if it means you will be safer. Sometimes it's better to give way to other vehicles so they don't end up stuck behind you: think ahead and remember that courtesy to others can also benefit you.

These three tips will also help you to ride for transport confidently and comfortably:

  • Map smart. Plan your route: depending on where you live, for the sake of five minutes each way there may well be a route that makes your journey safer and more enjoyable. There are loads of great apps for this: e.g. the Google Maps cycling function. It's also well worth talking to regular riders to find out their tips and tricks to avoid busy sections of road.
  • Carrying stuff shouldn't be a pain in the neck. Some people like it, but for most riders carrying a backpack is uncomfortable and can restrict vision and movement. If you want to ride to work or the shops, get a luggage rack and panniers: you can carry more than you think (some people move house by bike!) and once you're used to it you'll wonder why you ever took the car to do your shopping.
  • Lock smart. If you're riding for transport you'll need to make sure your bike is safe at the other end. Go for a D-lock that meets the national standard (e.g. Sold Secure in the UK) with a flex - a cord which allows you to secure your front wheel, panniers and helmet. It is recommended that you spend a tenth of the value of your bike on a lock. Try to get as much within the D as possible - e.g. the rear wheel, frame and bike parking stand - to minimise leverage room for any potential thief. Lock your bike up in a conspicuous location with lots of passersby. It's also worth photographing your bike and registering it with a bike security scheme.

If you want to start riding to work, check out our blog here.

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