Not Confident

A bike with watermelon-painted wheels

Our helmets off to you!

Do you feel nervous about riding a bike? That's OK, riding a bike isn’t fun when you feel uncomfortable or worried. 

Luckily, there are lots of ways for you to build your confidence. Here are a few simple tips and techniques to help you take to the roads more confidently.

1. Be in the right place

  • Start with a quieter neighbourhood street - with lower traffic speeds to get the hang of things.
  • Avoid the pavement - it may seem daunting at first, but riding on the road gives you more space and the opportunity to ride faster.
  • Don't hug the curb - hugging the curb means other vehicles might be tempted to overtake you when they shouldn't and puts you in the path of potholes, drains, and all the nasty debris that ends up at the side of the road. It’s usually best to ride at least 1 metre from the edge of the road.
  • Take the lane - If there is debris on the road, parked cars or other obstacles, you may need to ride in the centre of the lane. The UK Highway Code also states that bike riders are permitted to ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings.

Three images of riders on UK roads

2. Have the skills and techniques to thrive

There are a couple of skills and tricks that can make you feel a lot more comfortable on a bike:

  • Scanning - Practise gently turning your hips and shoulders to give you a better view of vehicles approaching from behind you. If you find this movement difficult, you can attach a rear-view mirror to your bike instead. Try our Cycle Superpower II: Scanning Quick Course to develop your scanning skills!
  • Signalling - A quick hand out to the left or right will do wonders to help you effectively communicate your intentions and ride safely. Not comfortable taking a hand off the handlebars yet? All good - practise a little bit at a time and try the Basic Bike Handling II Quick Course
  • Learn the skills of the Bike Ninja. Ok, it's not martial arts, but learning things like the rock dodge, quick stop, and other more advanced skills can make you feel in greater control of your bike! You can learn these skills on local safe cycling classes (check out Bikeability) or you can check out a few instructional videos.

3. Practise!

There’s really no substitute for practising a skill, and the more you ride (particularly in new situations) the more comfortable and confident you’ll get. Start with something easy and slowly build your confidence in more challenging environments. 

If a road is too intimidating for you, that's ok - see if you can find another route (and if there isn't another route, tell your local council that you want a Low Traffic Neighbourhood).

Key skills to practise:

Note: Please always practice the below in a safe and comfortable environment (the park, quiet streets, etc)

Riding with one hand 

This is an essential skill for signalling. Here's how to master it:

  1. Start off with just taking one hand slightly off the handlebars, so you can easily grab it again if needed. Get good at doing this with both hands.
  2. Next, try riding with one hand controlling the bike, and one hand by your side.
  3. Finally, practise signalling, with your arm fully extended in the intended direction of travel. Practise with both arms.

Looking over your shoulder

Being able to clearly see what is happening around you at all times is an essential skill when riding on the roads. Brush up with these tips:

  1. First look ahead and map in your mind where the bike will be going for the brief moment that you’re looking behind you.
  2. Turn your head to look behind you. You can start off practising with small turns, before building up to a more full rotation.
  3. It can be easier sometimes to take your hand off the handlebar first of the side you want to look back over. This opens up that side of the body more so your head doesn’t need to rotate as far and you can get both your eyes looking back

4. You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!

Remember, there are people riding bikes all over the world and there’s always someone to ask questions, share your experiences with, or ride with - you just have to find them. 

If you're not sure where to start, visit your nearest bike shop, Google local riding groups or find them on Facebook. Or, you can try in-person cycle training with organisations such as Bikeability - find training near you by clicking here

Remember, you can always reach out to us, we're happy to help or connect you with other resources!

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