Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Cycling to Work - Commuting without a hitch

I've tried cycling to work a few times and must admit that it can be a scary business. Yes I saved money on petrol (which is great), yes it kept me fit and active (which is great also!) but there are times when I question whether or not these gains were worth the sacrifice.

If you are planning on cycling to work and have a bit more will power than me to make it a regular thing, then these tips below might help you to avoid cycling accidents and other cycling related problems.


1. Stay away from the curb

Its tempting to ride close to the curb in order to avoid an accident but cycling close to the curb is dangerous. You will often find that you have to dodge potholes grids puddles and debris so its best to keep about an arms length away...this is known as the 'secondary' position and is the correct position to ride anyway. It lets other road users know that you are happy to let them pass but keeps you out of trouble.

2. Move well out when passing obstacles

If you need to pass an obstacle such as a parked car then make sure you give yourself plenty of room by moving in to the primary riding position (middle of the road) well before you get to the obstacle itself.  This will show cars behind you that you do not want them to try and overtake and will make the procedure safer.

3. Try and Avoid Puddles 

Puddles are the enemy! They can leave you soaked through and they can also send you flying if you catch them at the wrong speed or angle. If you can ride around them safely then do so.


1. Have a change of clothes 

Having a spare pare of clothes at work can be an absolute god send, especially as the weather is so unpredictable in the UK. I've had rides where its been sunny at the beginning and I've ended up walking in to work like a drowned rat!

You're clothes will also get hot and sweaty so its best to have something to change in to when you get to work. A towel and some deodorant is also useful to have in the office just in case.

2. Lights and spare batteries 

Bike lights are essential if you ride in the dark as they warn drivers that you are there. I recommend also packing some spare batteries just in case they decided to 'konk' out mid journey. Obviously this would be a massive problem if you didn't have spares so carry some with you.

3. Pack Spare innertubes 

Instead of packing a puncture repair kit invest in a few cheap 'jockey' innertubes that will get you to your destination. This is a much quicker way of solving your puncture problem. You can repair the punctured tire when you have more time.

4. Inspect your route

If you are serious about having a safe journey you might want to head out at the weekend in the car and check that your journey is safe. Also time how long it takes so you know how early you will have to leave the house. 

Other Tips:

1. Take a snack

In my experience I always needed a boost of energy when I got to work so packing a brunch bar or a piece of fruit was great for crushing the hunger goblins and comes highly recommended.

2. If in doubt, give it a miss

If you are having doubts about your journey then the best thing to do is give it a miss. Cycling to work when you just don't want to cycle to work is not a pleasant experience!

That's all the tips I have the time to share right now, hope you find some of them useful. If you have any of your own please leave a comment below and I'll gladly add them to the list!



  1. WRT puddles, a full set of mudguards (and a mufdflap on the front) keep the vast majority of water off.

    For puncture repair, a spare inner tube can certainly be quicker than patching, although if you have a rear puncture on a bike with hub gears/brakes/chaincase it can be easier to patch the tube without removing the wheel. On a bike which you depend on to get to work, thicker, heavier puncture resistant tyres (such as Schwalbe Marathon Plus) are a worthwhile investment, greatly reducing puncture frequency over typical tyres which come with most bikes in the UK.

    On a bike you want to be able to depend on for important trips (such as the journey to work) it is worth considering dynamo lights. Although they represent a greater up-front investment, they will never need new batteries and there won't be a problem if you end up staying out later than planned and forgot to bring your lights; they're already on the bike. With modern dynamo systems using hub dynamos with negligible drag, lights which stay on for a few minutes after stopping, daylight running lights and LEDs with huge operational lifespans, dynamo lighting has never looked like a better option for transport cycling.

    One final tip, the Brompton. For most intents and purposes it is every bit as capable as a larger bike, but if something comes up/goes wrong, you can always sling it on a bus, in the back of a cab or onto a rush-hour train without issue. I find mine makes me go further that I would otherwise, because I know I've got plenty of alternative transport options if something went wrong.

    1. Great tips, I'll add them in to the post when I get some more time thanks!

      I'll be sure to visit your blog again soon too