|Rules of the ride
- See and be seen
- Keep a good look out ahead, where people might come from and look behind as necessary
- Being clearly visible vitally important. There are two parts to this (1) standing out (2) being where people can easily see you.
- To stand out in daytime wear something bright
- To stand out at night, have good lights and some big reflective patches
- Well into the road is where drivers are looking most of the time
- Don't hide round corners, stationary vehicles or on pavements
- You are traffic
- Yes you are! Don't be bullied.. You have the same rights as cars.
- The more you are in the traffic stream the safer you'll be as others have to make a proper overtaking manoeuver instead of sneaking past and squeezing you.
- Keep in the traffic stream when there are parked cars and other road narrowings - You don't have to try to get back into the main stream to get through the gap.
- Space doesn't hurt
- Leave at least 2 feet gap between you and the kerb. Cars give you as much space as you leave yourself so don't be afraid to cycle a bit further out and give yourself room for manoeuver.
- When passing stationary cars (on either side) allow plenty of extra space to allow for doors to be opened.
- Cars can stop more quickly than bikes so leave a good gap between you and the car in front.
- Prepare for junctions
- Junctions are bad enough at the best of times with many opportunities for conflicting traffic to collide.
- You job is to pass through the conflict zone as quickly as possible.
- Make sure you get in the right road position in good time (look behind) and traffic has plenty of time to see what you're doing.
- Select the right gear
- If you have to wait, normally do it where a car would - Before the critical conflict zone.
|Traps of the trip
- Junction jumpers
- There are all sorts of junctions where you have the right of way but other traffic (including bikes and pedestrians) charge out immediately in front of you.
- Cultivate a sixth sense about where trouble is likely and see the early signs
- Precautions are (1) be visible, (2) be alert (3 if all else fails! ) shout and aim for the space
- Keep well out in the road when approaching side roads, alleyways and concealed driveways
- Pedestrians and cyclists on the pavement (especially children) may jump into the road.
- If there is a dodgey driver try to look them in the eye
- Rubbish Road
- Potholes are a nuisance but most of the time you should be able to see them coming and do a swerve (if you have left yourself room to manoeuver).
- Objects left on the road tend to get pushed to the kerb so that's another reason for keeping away from it.
- Don't cycle over drain covers and manholes if you can help it.
- Don't rely on a dry and grease-free road near junctions - especially mini-roundabouts.
- A surface of loose gravel or sand can be treacherous - often found at the bottom of hills in the country!
- Never overtake lorries
- Never overtake a lorry (on either side) unless it is actually parked.
- Lorry drivers probably can't see you no matter how hard they tried
- Lorries are often stopped for a few seconds before making a manoeuver. If you get trapped as the trailer turns - You're dead.
- Loony left hookers
- Cars sometimes overtake you then slow down and turn left right in front of you. Watch for the early signs when the car doesn't accelerate away. If the worst happens go sharply round the corner with the car.
- You might be cycling up the inside of a queue of traffic when suddenly one turns left in front of you. If doing this, perhaps a feeder to an Advanced Stop Line then keep an eye out for where a car might suddenly pull in or across.
|Bits of the bike
- Size suits
- Adjust the height of the saddle so you can touch the floor with the ball of one foot but not both
- Adjust the handlebar height to be level with your elbows if when you stand straight beside them
- Make sure you can easily hold yourself on the saddle while holding your hands flat just above the bars
- A bike that's too big is dangerous.
- Wheels work
- Tyres need air in them. You need a pump and you need to know how to use it.
- Knowing how to mend a puncture is a simple basic life skill.
- A wheel that wobbles on its axle, or is bent is dangerous.
- Brakes bite
- See how far you can go on a bike without touching the brakes - Not very! They are in use all the time and can save your life.
- There are four parts to each brake (1)blocks - square on the rim not worn out (2)pull-arms of various sorts adjustable to give enough but not too much gap (3)cable - need lubrication - if rusty then replace (4) handles - Only adjust here for fine tuning.
- Give a good hard squeeze before starting out.
- Mechanical mischief
- Chains need lubrication - Wax is much better than oil or grease.
- Gear shifts are really tricky to adjust perfectly - Keep clean and get a book from the library to find out how to adjust them or get them adjusted at your bike shop.
- Cheap bikes have cheap components.
- If you attach anything (eg a luggage rack) then check the fitting screws don't work loose.
- Nothing, but nothing should be loose or rattle or be just attached. Don't raise handlebars and seat posts beyond the marked limit.
|Joy of the Journey
- Beauty of back routes
- There are often little cut-throughs which are handy short cuts or avoid troublesome areas
- Quite back roads can be quite charming at all times of the day and night
- Don't be conned into following a ring road when you can cycle straight through.
- Speed of commute
- Two miles on a bike is 10 minutes door to door.
- No hassle finding somewhere to park.
- No need to wait for the bus.
- Buses and cycles go about the same speed in towns.
- Pass rush hour traffic easily.
- Fun of fitness
- Being out on a bike is more fun than a sterile gym.
- A note book and a cheap cycle computer is all you need to keep your own records
- What! You came TEN miles to get here and have ten to go back! It's a doddle if you've got very basic fitness.
- Being stronger means you can explore more challenging terrain. Being fitter means you can go on for longer.
- Find a buddy and burn off the pounds.
- Independence or party
- Enjoy the freedom to get away and do your own thing
- Team up with a buddy for fitness training
- A posse might stretch (and support) you and show you interesting rides
- There are plenty of opportunities for families to get out together