Cycling around any busy city can seem a bit daunting at first. Taxi drivers will cut in-front of you with no warning, huge double-decker buses will stop before you forcing you into the middle of the road, while reckless city folk, who always seem to be in a rush speed past you, skimming the hairs on your arms. Needless to say it is no easy affair getting from point a to point b by bike in a crazy, busy and somewhat scary big city like London.
This said you must not be deterred, do not let the city defeat you. Instead grab a sturdy helmet, a fluorescent jacket and your bike. Hop on and cycle away to where ever you wish. Not only is it a great form of exercise but it is tonnes of fun too. Exercising to get somewhere you need to go is so much easier than forcing yourself out for a run to no particular destination. The thrill of the dynamic, moving and ever changing surroundings will keep your adrenaline high, you will remain alert and certainly awake (useful if you need a prod before work in the mornings). Not only is biking beneficial to your health and lifestyle but you are also doing your bit for your carbon footprint. After you have bought your bike, cycling is completely carbon free and cost free. So you are helping that bank balance of yours too.
Once you are enlightened to the benefits of cycling, its time to shrug all those fears away. How do you do that, you may ask? Well first things first you need to remove the physiological barrier and change the way you are thinking about cycling in a city. Nothing you do it totally danger free; driving, crossing the road or simply taking a bus can be hazardous, so why does riding a bike scare you so much? Yes lots of incidents are reported and things can go wrong but you cannot live your life thinking ‘what if’. Yes maybe you will fall off your bike and scrape your knee but you might also fall over on some uneven pavement while walking and break your leg.
Now your attitude has changed you can make your self feel even safer cycling by following these tips:
- Get a cycle buddy – the first time you venture out on the roads find an experienced cyclist to show you the ropes. This does not have to be someone you know. If none of your friends cycle there is a big community online who can help. Check out this website – http://www.cyclingbuddy.com/
- Find a good route – Google maps has some nice cycle route options, sometimes it is better to check out the route before doing it by bike. Go for a walk, drive or bus ride there. You will be more confident and safe if you know where you are going.
- However, if there is no time for pre-planning, put your Google sat nav on loudspeaker– Your phone will shout at you were to go with out you having to read a map with one hand.
- Do not wear headphones – it is important to be fully aware of your surroundings when on busy roads. This means being able to hear noises round you.
- Make yourself as visible as possible – at night wear a reflective jacket and jazz your bike up with lots of funky flashing lights. During the day it does not harm to wear bright colours or florescence too.
- Do not be put off by a little hiccup – a slip up can put you off for life. If you get beeped, someone has to emergency stop or you get a shock, make sure to pick up your bike and carry on. Take an important lesson from your mistake or some one else’s and try not to let it put you off.
- The rules of the road apply to you as a cyclist too – make sure not to go through red lights, overtake dangerously or whiz over zebra crossings.
- Cycle a few feet away from the curb or parked cars – if you are too near the curb and you need to jut out suddenly to avoid an obstacle *(broken glass, a gutter etc.) it will be dangerous. Avoid the hassle and stay away from the curb, drivers will see you better too and should overtake you safely leaving you plenty of space when clear on the other side of the road.
- Remember to have fun – you are cycling because you enjoy it, so do not forget to do exactly that. Happy biking one and all.