5 Top Tips for Safe Cycle Commuting

With next week being 'Bike Week 2017', I thought it seemed timely to write up some top tips for safe and enjoyable cycling to work.

Commuting by bike is a great way to de-stress, save time, and get some exercise at either end of the day.

After over a decade of experience riding a bike to work, at various locations around the UK, these are five things that I would recommend for any bicycle commute.



1 - Daytime running lights

Even in the middle of June, there are shadows, morning mist, low sunlight and changing light conditions. All of those things can make a cyclist hard to pick out on the road.

Invest in some USB chargeable lights, with an output that is strong enough to be seen even in bright daylight; your presence on the road will be increased ten fold, and you will notice that you have fewer close calls and near passes. 

These are my Top 3 Daytime Running Light choices:
  1. Lezyne  (Reviewed here) (Shop here)
  2. Niterider  (Reviewed here) (Shop here)
  3. See.Sense  (Reviewed here) (Shop here)



2 - Listen to everything

Listening to music whilst you ride can be engaging and motivating, and that might encourage you to ride further, and more frequently. Wearing ear-buds when you are riding is incredibly dangerous though; removing that vital sense of awareness that hearing ambient noise provides.

The solution is a pair of headphones like the new Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones.

Rather than sit inside your ear, the Trekz Titanium sit on your cheek bone, and reverberate sound through your bone structure to your ear drum. The result is that your ear channels are left open to normal hearing, whilst you can still listen to your music.

The sound quality is incredibly good, and the new lighter Trekz Titanium model is even more comfortable than the Aftershokz Bluez 2 that I previously reviewed here on the blog.

If you want to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast on your commute, these are by far the safest option.



3 - Wear Hi-Vis riding accessories

In the above photo, I purposefully wore dark coloured kit, just to demonstrate how much some high visibility accessories can 'pop' on your outfit, and increase your road presence.

Investing in a few inexpensive accessories; such as high visibility gloves, buffs, overshoes and caps, will allow you to be seen more prominently in the dark coloured kit that often features in a cyclist's wardrobe.

GripGrab have a great range of Hi-Vis accessories for cyclists



4 - Don't ride on empty

I see a lot of people who ride into work, and then eat breakfast once they have arrived. I don't recommend it.

When you are asleep, you are effectively starving your body for 8 hours. So when you wake up, the best thing to do to promote energy and recovery, as well as alertness, is to have something to eat.

If you ride fasted on a frequent basis, then you are constantly depleting your glycogen stores below their natural levels; which means you are more likely to get post ride hunger pains and 'fridge raider frenzy' when you stop, as well as being less aware whilst you ride. Eat breakfast before you leave.

The same applies to evening commutes: eat something half an hour before you leave, so that you don't have the tendency to over eat at dinner, or feel tired on the way home.



5 - Keep the racing for the open roads

Racing between traffic lights, between bus shelters, over city bridges or through subways, can seem like fun. It is, until your head-down effort results in you ploughing into someone or something. 

Keep your racing for the open country roads; once you're out of the town, or at the weekends. If you need to let off a bit of steam at the end of the day, then find a quiet back road and do some uphill sprints... you're less likely to run over a doddery pensioner or zombified mobile phone user. 



Enjoy the ride 

Most of all, enjoy the ride. Cycling to and from work is great.

Invest in the best bike and kit that you can, so you can be as comfortable and as safe as you can be.

Very soon, you will wonder why you spent so much on cars and fuel in the past, and didn't jump on a bike earlier. 


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