Wise Words - Use Your Bike More

Wise Words - Use Your Bike More

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10 Surefire Ways of Using your Bike More

Make every day a cycling opportunity with this handy fistful of top tips

  • Store your bike somewhere you can get on it and out of the door in less than a minute - in the classic film Heat, Robert De Niro said "Never get into something that you can't get out of in 30 seconds flat". Similarly, if you can't get onto your bike and out the door PDQ then you're more likely to reach for the car keys. So, stash your bike under the stairs and keep your helmet and bike bag close. You're not going to argue with De Niro are you?
  • Ride a bike that you can ride in your normal shoes and clothes - a bike with flat pedals and fenders is easier to hop straight onto than something that requires a complete costume change.
  • Get a folding bike - folding bikes are getting better and better all the time - from around 300 quid up you can get a bike that rides well but will fit under the stairs, on the train, on the bus, in a car boot, or under your desk at work. Suddenly, like a faithful dog, your bike will come everywhere with you! I've even put the bike in the shopping trolley and marched into Tesco!
  • Live 'locally' - Think about it - If you're serious about reducing your car dependency you need to think about the journeys you make. Do you drive miles to an out of town hypermarket when there's a smaller supermarket, shopping area or market just around the corner? We're all guilty of the lure of 'everything under one roof' but I bet you can do 90 percent of your shopping locally and use your bike.
  • Equip your bike to carry stuff - your bike will be more useful if you can carry things on it. So a rear rack and panniers are a must for smaller loads, while numerous trailers are available for larger items. There are even load carrying bikes for really big stuff.
  • Lights are not 'accessories' - You'd be a little miffed if your brand new car came without lights wouldn't you? So don't treat them as an optional extra, stashed in the bottom of your cupboard drawer. Keep your lights close to the bike and fully charged ready for your next cycling opportunity. Dynamo lights, or induction lights such as the Danish Reelight system are great, stay on, fit and forget, never need batteries options and therefore perfect for that jump-on-and-go ethic.
  • Shop by bike - Make "Little and Often" your shopping mantra - If you want to do your shopping by bike then, to an extent, you need to change your shopping habits. Rather than the fortnightly mega shop, do little-and-often shopping trips, picking up stuff just for the next day or so. Then you can seamlessly fit the bike in with the shop without lugging home your own bodyweight in food. Sure, it takes a little more time, but there are benefits - you'll be more inclined to patronise the smaller local shops and feel all smug and good about yourself (see Live Locally). You'll also be sure that what you're eating is really fresh - are you one of those people who obsessively checks the dates on fresh food, only to take it home and leave it to go rancid in the fridge?
  • Changing Jobs? Make the potential for a cycle commute one of the deciding factors - with estimated journey times by car going through the roof, it's totally reasonable to consider a job's cycle-commutability as a big factor - ditto moving house. If you're moving, think 'good links with the National Cycle Network' or 'near a railway station' rather than 'good links to the Motorway network.'
  • Two legs good, Two wheels even better - there are potential bike rides where you may have to walk one-way, but you can ride back. For instance - taking the kids to school - you can walk one way, drop the little angels off at school and then cycle back - you can even go the long way and get a little extra ride time. Beauty is you'll still get back home the same time as if you'd walked. These types of journey 'multi drop' journeys are the type most cited by commuters as reasons why they need their cars, but there are alternatives.
  • Take your bike with you on holiday or days out - a folding bike helps with this. You could fit a family's worth of folding bikes in the boot of an estate car - think of how much better you could explore the area by bike than by walking.