Due to the recession, more and more people have found that the price of commuting is increasing beyond their means, which could provide an explanation for why so many have got on their bike in order to get to work on time. According to The Economist, 'in London some 540,000 trips a day are made by bicycle—twice as many as in 2000'.
There are now a number of bike schemes that people can make the most of as well, such as the Government's Cycle to Work scheme and London's 'Boris Bikes', as well as similar programmes in other areas of the country. However, if you are considering switching your car or local public transport for a bike in order to commute to work, you will need to brush up on your road safety and cycling knowledge to ensure you can get from A to B safely.
Here are some of our top tips for commuting by bike:
Invest in the right bike
Before you even think about the logistics of commuting by bike, you should look into buying an appropriate bike for your commute. Road bikes are the obvious choice for this kind of use - as Halfords' Bike Buyer's Guide explains, 'road bikes are built for speed on urban/tarmac surfaces, featuring smooth tyres and aerodynamic design', which means they can assist you in making your journey to and from work.
According to Wikipedia, the main differences between road bikes and other styles of bike is that that tyres are narrower and completely smooth, which helps to reduce rolling resistance, and they have multiple derailleur gears. They are also lightweight to allow for faster speeds and easy transportation.
However, a folding bike may be a better option for you. The Folding Society lists a number of reasons why you may suit a folding bike more, such as if you are planning on cycling to work and taking the train home, you don't have a lot of storage space at home, or you would like to be able to transport your bike in the boot of your car rather than on a roof rack.
You can find out more information by visiting your local bike shop or by looking online now.
Use the right gear
When cycling it is imperative that you wear the appropriate cycling clothing and use the right cycling gear to remain safe on the roads.
Though wearing a cycling helmet isn't a legal requirement, wearing one could help to save your life in the event of an accident. The Daily Mail published an article last year in which it reported that 'in 2009 TRL [Transport Research Laboratory] conducted a review that concluded that helmets are effective at preventing head and brain injuries – especially if there isn’t another vehicle involved. It concluded that between ten and 16 per cent of the fatalities could have been prevented by wearing an appropriate helmet.’
In terms of cycling clothing and gear, the directGov website states that cyclists should always wear either 'light-coloured or fluorescent clothing' or 'reflective clothing and/or accessories' which will make them noticeable to other road users and pedestrians when cycling at twilight and at night. The CTC states that, by law, front and rear lights are required, along with one rear reflector and four pedal reflectors to make bicyclists clearly visible. These guidelines are also laid out in The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989.
You will also need to invest in the appropriate cycling clothing, which can include cycling trousers or shorts, cycling jerseys, base layers, jackets, hi vis clothing, cycling glasses, gloves, shoes and body armour.
Follow the rules
You should always follow the rules concerning cycling when commuting in order to stay safe on the roads. According to research conducted by Transport for London, 1180 of 6322 cyclists polled admitted to running a red light. This is illegal and could cause a serious accident in which yours and the lives of other drivers are put at risk.
The Highway Code for cyclists also clearly states that cyclists should never cycle on pavements. In July, police in Cardiff, Wales, took action against pavement cyclists due to the dangers that this kind of action can result in. The BBC reported on the crackdown, stating that 'there were 118 cyclist fatalities and serious casualties along with 403 more slightly injured on the roads in Wales last year , according to figures released by the Welsh government'. By reducing the number of those cycling on pavements, countless injuries and fatalities could be avoided.
You should also always use cycle lanes when they are provided – if cycle lanes are not provided be aware of your surroundings and of the cars around you so that you are not in any danger. When turning or braking you must make hand signals to alert other drivers to your intentions – eHow explains how hand signals should be used when riding a bicycle.
If you are planning on commuting to work by bike, you should ensure you have the right bike, the right clothing and gear, and that you understand the Highway Code for cyclists before starting.