Dismantling the barriers to commuting by bike, one by one...
Cycling to work is good for your health, good for your city, good for your employer, good for your soul. However for every plus point, there's a whole raft of excuses, barriers and fears (most of them imaginary) that get in the way. Our handy guide aims to help you to tear down the barriers with good common-sense advice and inspirational tips.
How to Commute by Bike and...
...conquer the grocery run - It's not all about getting to work on time. Once you've got your bike sorted for commuting, you'll also find that your machine is also highly evolved for grocery-getting too. From panniers to cargo trailers to purpose built cargo bikes, there's a grocery getting solution out there for you.
...fuel your ride - It's widely acknowledged that cycle commuting is a great way to squeeze exercise into a busy daily routine. However, it's easy to make the mistake of thinking - "I ride my bike 3 miles to work 5 times a week - I can eat what I like." Read our guide to fuelling your commute
...banish cold hands - There's nothing more off-putting that riding a bike with cold hands, and gloves will also protect you in the event of a tumble - your hands are always the first things to hit the deck. So here's a guide on what to look for in a good cycling glove for commuting duties.
...keep your feet dry - They're right down there in the firing-line, mixing it with the road spray and are often forgotten, whilst the rest of our bodies are cosseted in waterproofs, hats, gloves and overtrousers. But don't forget your feet. Warm, dry, happy feet make a huge difference to your cycling comfort and your general well-being
...nail the school run - "I can't ride a bike to work today can I? I've got to take my son to school first" Wrong. If you've got the will, your friendly local bike shop was the equipment you need for the task. Taking the step from the car based school run to smug, two wheeled eco-school run is as easy as 1-2-3...
...keep warm - Anyone who rides a bike any distance will know that temperature control is a key issue. In the summer, the big issue is keeping cool and sweat free. However, in the autumn and winter, the balance shifts, and keeping warm becomes crucial to a comfortable bike commute.
...keep your chain slick - Looking after your chain and the other transmission components that come with it - chain-rings, sprockets and jockey wheels - can be a contentious area within cycling with firmly held beliefs and long established ‘folklore' about the way it should be done. GB Cycling Team head mechanic Mike Norris cuts through the grime and gets to the facts.
...Light Your Way - As the days become shorter it's likely that some or all of your commute will be in the dark or low light conditions. Therefore it's a good idea to take a look at the lighting options available for commuters, to make sure that you stay safe and visible on rush hour roads. It's also a good time to remind yourself of the minefield that is current UK cycle lighting legislation.
...arrive 'Office Fresh' - Whether your workplace is blessed with showering facilities or not, starting your day office fresh is a piece of cake, with a little forward planning and a few top tips. Do it right and your colleagues won’t even know you’ve made the incredible transformation from sweaty cyclist to well-groomed co-worker.
...take the train - Most people associate commuting by bike with short journeys - perhaps a few miles tops. However, combining the bike and train means that suddenly long distance, door to door, car-free journeys are a possibility. Instead of the highway hypnosis of motorway travel, you can get your daily exercise fix as you pedal to the nearest station.
...not get arrested by the (fashion) police - Forget helmet hair, forget the fear of riding in traffic. Perhaps the biggest unspoken barrier to riding to work by bike is turning up looking like that goofy cyclist caricature -you know the one - Ill fitting helmet, hi-viz jacket, cycling shorts teamed with grey socks and standard shoes.
...not get it stolen - Bike theft is an all too common problem, with a over 115,000 bikes worth a whopping £80 million stolen in the UK in 2010. Whilst we as bike users can do little to change the behaviour of thieves, we can take steps to help prevent becoming one of those depressing statistics.
...carry your stuff - Once the notion of getting to work by bike starts to become a reality, proto-commuters very quickly realise that they need to carry all of their usual daily gubbins with them, plus bike tools, rainwear and other sundry items. However, the need to haul your daily chattels with you shouldn't be a stumbling block.
...do it on the bike you've got - While it's true that there are some truly excellent dedicated commuter bikes out there it's also a fact that, for the vast majority of commutes, the bike you've already got will do the job, with perhaps a few nips and tucks here and there. So read on and love the one you're with.
...Stay Cool - There's no getting around the fact that CYCLING IS EXERCISE, therefore, you're going to generate some heat but this doesn't mean that you need to arrive at your desk sweating like a horse. With this in mind here are our top tips for avoiding that thoroughbred look.
...Not Get Lost! - Cycling to work rather than driving or getting the bus usually means finding a more bike friendly route. You might not want to plump for the usual four lane A-road route to your place of work, instead you'll want to find a route which is quieter, safer and more relaxing. Luckily, finding a good cycling route has never been easier.
...Stay Dry - Take a random poll among prospective cycle commuters and one of the biggest fears is "what happens when it rains?" True enough, it rains quite a lot in our green and pleasant land. However, with a bit of forward planning and some smart choices, you can ride to work and avoid sitting at your desk steaming and smelling like a compost heap.
...Not Get Stranded - In cycling, as with motoring, there's always a chance that you'll have to change a tyre or fix a problem at the roadside every now and again. However, the key is to minimise the chance of unscheduled alfresco bike maintenance, which you can do by following these simple steps.