6 Common Cycle Commuting Questions Answered
Banish any nagging doubts that might be stopping you commuting on two wheels
1. Do I need a particular type of bike to cycle commute?
In short, no. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe, so if you're new to urban cycling you might be best with a 'hybrid' or 'commuter' bike – which has road bike-size wheels for speed but a mountain bike-style flat handlebar.
Eyelets for mudguards and perhaps a luggage rack will be useful if you plan on riding in all weathers.
2. How do I work out the route if I want to cycle commute?
If you're heading into a major metropolis then check out its online cycling resources – for example Transport For London's website offers routes and maps as well as an interactive route planner which gives you a choice of easy, moderate or fast routes.
Google Maps will plot you a choice of routes – and it's a good idea to do a dry run on a weekend
For other areas, Google Maps will also happily plot you a choice of routes – and it's a good idea to do a dry run on a weekend to check out whether it's suitable.
3. What should I wear for cycle commuting?
Again comfort is key. There's no need to go for head-to-toe lycra if that's not your thing, but do wear a cycling-specific padded undershort – and try not to overdress and end up suffocating in your own sweat. As a rule of thumb, if you feel a bit chilly when you step outside then you've probably got it right.
Synthetic materials dominate the cycle clothing market as they are light and dry quickly, though merino wool jerseys are great in the cooler months – and tend not to pong as much.
4. How will I carry my stuff to work though?
Most commuters opt for a well-fitted rucksack (look for one with two fasteners on the front), but more serious riders sometimes use pannier bags which attach to a rack at the rear of the bike.
5. That's all fine but it's the traffic I'm scared of!
If you're new to cycling on busy roads, try to get on an adult cycle training course. These are often provided free-of-charge or cheaply by local authorities or similar organisations.
Don't let your fear make you ride right in the gutter – this is more dangerous than the recommended 'secondary' position of around 50cm from the kerb.
When you can see it's too dangerous for vehicles to pass, British Cycling recommends taking 'primary' position in the centre of the lane.
6. Anything else I should know?
Avoid passing HGVs and buses on the left unless you have plenty of room and can see they are not going to turn
Avoid passing HGVs and buses on the left unless you have plenty of room and can see they are not going to turn.
British Cycling also suggests moving out into the lane slightly as you ride past a junction. This moves you out of the path of drivers trying to 'nudge out' and discourages vehicles behind from trying to overtake and turn across you.
Finally, when riding past parked cars make sure you allow enough space for a door to be opened unexpectedly.
Stace King is editor of Unduro.co.uk