Cycling has many benefits, from improving your mental and physical health to saving you time and money on transport. However, cycling on busy UK roads can feel intimidating and daunting at first. Whilst this is understandable, it’s important to not let it put you off enjoying your two-wheeled trips. Here, we share some tips and tricks to help you cycle more confidently and safely on the roads.
1. Get a bike you are comfortable with
Bicycles come in different sizes and designs, and some are more technical than others. Depending on your cycling skills and preferences, you may find some bikes more difficult to use than others. Riding should be fun and comfortable, so explore different models and sizes to find one with which you are comfortable on. Try before you buy is a must to ensure you are comfortable and happy with your choice
2. Undergo training
Cycling may seem simple once you get the hang of it but taking your skills on the road rather than a cycle path requires a few extra skills. Cycling on the road or any public highway is just as serious as driving, and it is important to undergo training if you’re at all unsure of how to handle yourself in traffic. From stopping to overtaking, participating in a cycling proficiency course will teach you all you need to know, and improve your confidence.
3. Familiarise yourself with the Highway Code
Cyclists bear as much responsibility for observing road safety rules as drivers. Ultimately, it is in your best interests to follow traffic rules because you would be vulnerable in the case of an accident.
Familiarising yourself with the Highway Code will help you know what to expect and how to act in different situations. The code may seem too long to read, but all of the information about cycling is covered from pages 59 to 82.
4. Utilise hand signals well
Communicating your intentions to drivers and other road users helps prevent confusion. This is why it is important to learn and use hand signals, which are the equivalent of indicators on cars. Before you signal, you should steady yourself and make sure that you are in control of your bike.
5. Plan your route
It doesn’t matter how many times you have driven on a certain route – cycling the same way will feel much different. Before a new journey, make sure to check a map to see where you’re going, and consider taking a few test runs to familiarise yourself with the road if it’s going to be a regular cycle for you, such as a route to work. This will ensure that you feel confident, and don’t get distracted trying to follow directions.
These tips can help to boost your confidence and maximise your safety when cycling. You can enroll in Bikeability, the government’s national cycle training programme, to help you gain practical skills of how to cycle on today’s roadways.
If you’re nervous, you could also ask a friend to cycle with you until your confidence improves. Not only will this help you feel more comfortable, it can also be fun to ride as a group and explore new places together.