Fed up with buses, can’t stand the tube and don’t want to drive to work? Cycling in the city is a brilliant way to get around, keep fit and get where you want to quickly. But, with vans, lorries, cars, mopeds, pedestrians, other cyclists, mobility scooters and dogs to watch out for, it can come with a whole load of perils. Here’s our top tips for surviving your cycle to work.
The 5 DON’Ts!
1. DON’T Distract Yourself
While it’s not illegal to place a digital bucket over your head while cycling, at the same time you’d have to be mental to wear headphones or, worse, talk on the phone. Pay attention. Everyone is trying to kill you.
2. DON’T Be A (Broken-Legged) Hero To All Cyclists
If a lunatic driver accelerates past you then screeches right across your path to take a left turning, don’t heroically hurtle onwards: boldly asserting that you’re right will just get you killed. The driver stopped paying attention to you the moment they passed you.
While passing left turns, you should be out in the middle of your lane. It’s hugging the gutter that allows wazzocks to swerve themselves in front of you.
3. DON’T Get On Everyone’s Tits
Charging through red lights and barging through pedestrians on the pavement – it’s not a case of “Where’s the harm?” it’s simply that everyone hates cyclists enough as it is without you being a bozo.
I’m not kidding when I say that such behaviour makes people hate cyclists enough to influence how they drive around us, and not in a good way. Stop it. You aren’t special. And it’s illegal, by the way.
4. DON’T Pretend You’re In The Tour De Flippin’ France
What’s with all the ‘competing’? Nothing shouts “wanker!” louder than someone ignoring everyone and everything around them – including fellow cyclists – to gain literally seconds of time.
Show me a ‘competitor’ and I’ll show you someone who’s still in my line of sight five miles later. They only think they’re leaving everyone behind.
When you rush, you get clumsy. When your head is down, you aren’t aware. Chill out.
5. DON’T Give In To The Hate
The cycle of hate (sorry) results in accidents. Cycling in a permanent state of fury and clenched ill-will is not only dangerous, it’s medically so bad for you that you may as well sell the bike and get a car for all the good it does you.
The 5 DOs!
1. DO Look At Stuff, With Your Eyes
It’s amazing how many cyclists you see who have no idea or interest in what’s happening next to, in front of or behind them. The biggest killer is dehumanisation. Look other people in the eye. Interact. Be there!
2. DO Signal Like You’re Trying To Pass A Cycling Proficiency Test
What, it looks a bit lame? Well, you could actually kill someone by manoeuvring without warning and causing one of these metal, motorised monster-machines to swerve and brake.
Annoyed by pedestrians who blithely stroll out into the road, treating you like you aren’t even there? Well, that’s you, that is. When you don’t signal, that’s what you’re doing.
3. DO Ride Assertively
This isn’t the same as riding aggressively – it simply means taking a position in the road that says Hello, I Am Here.
The only time you should be hugging the left-hand side is if the traffic is flowing much faster than you, and in busy city-centres, that doesn’t happen often.
Always be in the middle of your lane coming up to junctions, no matter which way you’re turning. If you can match traffic-speed, you should be occupying the road like any other vehicle.
4. DO Use Proper Safety Kit, For Reals
Helmets are dorky, yes, but vital. Your hipster bike-lights that are so small no-one can see them? Get rid.
You don’t have to be a ‘full-kit wanker’ to be safe, but riding with no safety gear whatsoever – just because it’ll spoil your look – is next-level dickheadery.
5. DO Get Some Training
A cyclist who thinks they know everything about two-wheeled travel is dangerous. If you’re feeling either angry or fearful on the road, it’s likely you need to take time out and train. I guarantee you will ride better for it.