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Planning your commuting route

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Article posted: 27/08/2013

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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, an ever growing network of cycle lanes, GPS enabled phones and mapping mean that finding a good cycling route has never been easier.

1. Plug into the Network - The National Cycle Network is a spider's web network of over 15,000 miles of signposted cycle routes, using quiet roads, dedicated cycle lanes and traffic-free paths. The network has been pulled together thanks to civil engineering charity Sustrans, which has worked with local authorities and countless landowners throughout the country to create a what is essentially the cyclists road network. Best of all, Sustrans' website features online mapping and a journey planner, showing you the best point to point route for your commute.

If you've got a smart phone there are a number of free apps to help you plan your journey and give you real time, sat-nav style directions.

2. Got a smartphone? - If you've got a smart phone there are a number of free apps to help you plan your journey and give you real time, sat-nav style directions. Most of these apps base their journey planning on National Cycle Network routes and some give you a range of route options; for the experienced rider - quick and direct using busier roads; or for the novice - quiet, less-trafficked options.

3. Research your route - before tackling your bike commute for the first time, it pays to spend some time doing a little research. A little pre-ride study goes a long way. You can use the traditional approach with a felt-tip and an AtoZ, or you can go digital and use Google Maps or the like, taking advantage of its satellite and Street View features to pick out landmarks along the way.

4. Do a dummy run - If you're still a little nervous about your first time bike commute, ride to work on your day off. Counter-intuitive perhaps, but checking out the route when you're not under pressure will give you an idea of any hazards you need to look out for and also give you a rough estimate of how long your daily journey will take. All of this means that when you do the ride in earnest, you'll be able to time your arrival to perfection.

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