Bike Week 2016 has now officially started (11-19 June) and so we’ve brought together some handy hints to help you to make the most of this kick start to your summer of cycling.
With over five million of us Brits already enjoying cycling three or more times a week, you might be forgiven for thinking that Bike Week is a bit redundant. Maybe we don’t really need to promote cycling as part of everyday living anymore as it’s becoming so much more popular. As much as we love the fact that cycling continues to be on the rise in the popularity stakes, there is still a long way for us to go together before we might proudly badge ourselves as a cycling nation.
47% of Britain’s workforce live within five miles of work – a readily cycle-able distance (we estimate this to equate to about 14 million people). Our latest ComRes poll showed us that while over one fifth of workers had cycled in the past week (mainly for leisure or exercise), fewer than 4% have ever used their bike to get to work. So, whether you’re already cycling now and again in your leisure time but not to get about during the working week, or you’re a novice who’s not too sure about making the switch from car, bus or train for the bike, here are some handy tips to get help you make the most out of cycling this Bike Week – and hopefully well beyond.
Start cycling socially this weekend
If you’ve got a bike hidden away in your shed or garage, but haven’t had it out for a ride for a while, you might feel a bit uncertain about simply grabbing it on Monday morning to head straight out to work. Why not go for a ride this weekend with your friends or family and choose somewhere you feel happy riding. Even better if some of your bike buddies regularly ride on their bikes as they’re bound to have some favourite local spots to cycle around. Cycling is such a great way to explore your local area and take in the scenery, you could try a local canal tow-paths, around a local park or along bridleways and trails.You could also take a look to find one of our local groups and see whether there is a ride that you could join them on this weekend too. Our members are a friendly bunch and have stacks of experience in the saddle.
Plan your route
Search for a quiet cycle route, by trying to avoid the main roads and junctions that you know to be really busy during rush hour, by using a journey planner. A quiet route can be quicker even if it’s slightly longer as you’re missing the worst of the traffic, avoiding big junctions and are less likely to come up to a set of traffic lights that would have slowed you down.
Give your bike a check over
If you haven’t ridden it for a while, it is worth while spending a bit of time checking it over. There is a chance that your tyres will have lost a bit of air, so get them pumped up and look out for any punctures. Check that the chain is oiled and shift through the gears to check that they’re working correctly and running smoothly. Check that the brakes are working and that your brake blocks haven’t worn down. If you aren’t sure about how best to check over a bike or to do basic maintenance, why not find a local bike shop or local bike recycling centre near you who will be more than happy to take a look for you and give you advice and knowhow on bike maintenance.
Take a trial ride on your route to work
If you’re a bit uncertain of the route you want to take on your bike to get to work (because you often have more route options riding than you do driving or taking public transport), the lighter traffic and no time pressure to get into work offer you a chance to take your time and try out the journey you’re going to be making in the week. You could try more than one route option to see which one suits you best and it’s always a good way to boost your confidence knowing how you’re going to get their and see get an idea of how long it takes – you might be surprised at how little time difference there can be between a rush-hour car that gets stuck in slow moving traffic, and a free-flowing pedal.
Find a Bike Buddy
You might know someone at work who often cycles into work and who might be happy to be your bike buddy during Bike Week. Having someone with you who knows the local traffic, best routes and confidence in cycling in traffic, can give you more peace of mind and if you’re being led on a particular route, the freedom to just enjoy the ride without really needing to look out for the next left or right turn you need to make to stay on track.
Take your time
Often people think cycling will make you really build up a sweat – and that really depends on how you are riding. If you would rather cycle for your destination rather than have a change of clothes with you, give yourself good time so as not to pile on time pressure to get into work. If you take your time and dress appropriately for the weather (i.e. don’t have stacks of layers on if it’s a warm and sunny day). then there’s no need to find a shower – just a kettle for a cuppa.
Don’t forget, especially if you are using shared paths with pedestrians where they always have priority, slow down and give them plenty of space around them.