Keen to join the city cycling revolution - Here’s my top tips for beginner cyclists hitting the road!
We’re all about green transport options here - as well as encouraging and supporting members who’ve made the leap to an electric vehicle (EV), we’ve also just announced OVO Bikes. Read more about this exciting new city bike hire scheme here.
As a keen cyclist myself I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my city cycling journey and hopefully inspire you to plan a two-wheel inner-city excursion of your own.
Before moving to Bristol around 9 years ago my cycling experience had mostly been on quiet country lanes or entirely car-free bike trails. Moving to a new city and with early morning shifts to get to, I was eager to join the city-cycling revolution and what a better place to start than beautiful hilly Bristol! Like many others - the prospect of jumping on my bike on a busy city street was fairly daunting, however it’s surprising how quickly you learn the tips and tricks of inner-city riding and start to feel comfortable as part of the traffic.
So here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way :
Make yourself noticeable
Any excuse to wear a bright colourful outfit is good with me! Hi-vis and a decent pair of lights are also key, particularly for dark winter days when the sun never seems to make an appearance.
Helmets are life-savers
So a little confession to make here, it took me a good few years (and a couple of near-misses) to accept that wearing a ‘dorky’ helmet was definitely better than crashing without one. Whilst we share the roads with bigger and faster vehicles, doing as much as we can to protect ourselves is the wisest option.
Know where you’re going
There’s nothing worse than ending up on a scary, busy road when there’s a much safer, quieter route you could be whizzing along instead. I learnt this lesson hard when I became a temporary London resident a few years ago.
Plan the best route before you set off - I’ve found it’s worth checking the route suggested by google maps with local cyclists, it's not always the best way! Making sure you have an easy way to check you’re en-route as you go (eg. a handle-bar mounted phone-holder) can make all the difference. From personal experience I can say that finding yourself on an inner-city dual carriageway is terrifying and tear-inducing but thankfully easily avoided!
Bikes and trains make a great transport combo
Staycation summer is the perfect time to get exploring new cities and what better way than by taking your bike to a new city on the train! I love the freedom cycling gives you to explore new places and there's the added bonus of not having to worry about traffic when getting into the city or finding somewhere to park your car.
I used to fear that I’d ended up stranded on the station platform struggling to find a space for my bike - but these can now be easily booked in advance at no extra cost - some train companies even allow you to reserve a spot via Whatsapp if you’re not sure on the exact train you’ll be getting when you book your ticket.
The future looks wheely great
Even in the (comparatively) short time I’ve been on the road there’s been noticeable improvements to the way cyclists are treated and catered for, with new properly separated cycle paths popping up all the time, cycling feels more and more accessible. If there’s one bright side we could take from pandemic life, it’s the benefits that can be made by making space for cyclists.
Want to get involved in making cycling safer and easier to start - Sustrans is the national charity doing just this. There’s plenty of ways you can support them in their mission - find out more here.
I’d love to hear your own cycling tips and tales - Already a confident rider? Post a pic of your trusty steed!
Maybe you’d love to start but haven’t quite got pedaling - What’s the biggest obstacle in your path?
We’ve also got some great guides to help start your cycling journey here...