Some of us have travelled by bike on our daily journeys for some time thanks to its multiple benefits. Others will start doing so from now on. As in many areas of life, the beginnings can be complicated and it can be scary to face the urban jungle by bike. So it is always advisable to follow some initial tips for travelling to work by bike and not just leaving it to luck. From our experience, we give you the 10 most important tips for starting to travel around the city by bike.
The 10 tips you should follow for travelling to work by bike
1. Use the appropriate bike
Each type of bike suits different surroundings and in the city, the best bikes are the fixie/single-speed, commuter, foldable, urban electric and also gravel bikes. Riding a heavy mountain bike, with mountain tyres and suspension is not a good idea. It will drag and you will use more effort than necessary. However, bikes such as the fixie/single-speed are perfect for riding in the city. They are lightweight, hard wearing, they need little maintenance and are affordable. If you have slopes on your journey, an electric bike might be worthwhile, a foldable bike if you don’t have much space at home, a commuter bike if you are also going to use it at weekends through town and a gravel if you are going to ride in the mountains and on roads.
2. Plan your journey
The preparation and planning of your daily journey is very important. The shortest route isn’t always the best one. Look for the quietest route, with fewer cars, which is flatter and has more shade in summer. You can use Google Maps or Komoot to find the best theoretical bike route, although afterwards it will be thanks to your own experience and knowledge of the city that you reduce time and gain safety on your regular journeys. It is a good idea to try to do your journey very early or very late the first few days when there is less traffic.
3. Equip yourself for any eventuality
It might and will happen to you: you will puncture a tyre at the worst time. So you don’t have to walk home or go on public transport with the bike weighing you down, it is always advisable to be equipped with the essentials. A puncture repair kit, a spray with anti-puncture foam and a small pump will be lifesavers. Also take a small Swiss army knife so you can fix any small mechanical incident. You should also think about what you will do if it rains. Checking the weather forecast the day before and always carrying a foldable raincoat with you are always good ideas.
4. Make yourself visible
During the day, and especially at night, make sure other vehicles and passers-by can see you clearly. With the front light you will be able to see any potholes in poor lighting conditions. The rear light however, is extremely important so that cars who are coming behind you can see you under any circumstances. At night it is compulsory to use both the front and rear light, but we recommend you have them, the rear one at least, always switched on. You can also wear a reflective armband or install reflective elements on your bike, rucksack or legs.
5. Make yourself heard
Just as it is important to be seen, it’s important to be heard. Having a bell is compulsory in an urban environment, but it is also very useful for warning absent-minded pedestrians of your presence when they are about to cross the cycle lane.
6. Wear a helmet
It is not compulsory on urban journeys, but it is advisable. Any minor unexpected event, a sudden manoeuvre can make you fall off your bike and bump your head. Although bumps aren’t usually serious, there are a small percentage of falls that can cause serious head injuries. We have no doubt, always wear a helmet.
7. Respect the signs
Cyclists are stigmatised as a group for not following traffic regulations. Don’t contribute to this. So: respect traffic signs, stop at traffic lights when they’re on red, give way when you don’t have the right of way, ride in the cycle lane when there is an obligation to do so and never overtake on the right. Also remember to use your arms to indicate your turns. That way, vehicles who are behind you will know your actions before you take them.
8. Ride in the middle of the lane
You might not believe it, and other vehicles push us to the right of the lane, but in towns you can ride in the middle of the lane. That way, you will avoid an accident if a parked car suddenly opens the door as you go past.
9. Sweat as little as possible
Yes, it’s a difficult tip to carry out, but you can take measures to sweat as little as possible. First of all, don’t go too fast. The more effort, the more sweat. For this, it is best to leave enough time in advance and arrive on time at your destination. Try to avoid carrying a rucksack as it causes you to sweat a lot. You can install saddle bags or baskets on your bike to carry your things comfortably without sweating. Even so, if it’s summer or you have to go on a long journey, take a towel, deodorant and a change of clothing with you so you can change when you reach your destination. Or even better, ask them to install showers at your place of work. This is noteworthy.
10. Always take a padlock (or two) with you
Bikes get stolen. It’s unfortunate but true. U-shaped padlocks are the most secure and convenient to carry. They secure the frame and one of the wheels, but combined with a chain your bike will be secure. Depending on the amount of time your bike will be parked on the street and whether it is an isolated place or somewhere busy, it is advisable to use the one which is most appropriate according to its level of security. There are also anti-theft nuts that will avoid you having to take another padlock or the extra chain.
Enjoy the journey. Take advantage of the journey to work or home by bike to switch off, to think about your own things. You are privileged to be able to travel by bike, without polluting and without the need to use public transport. Value it!