Advice Hub

June 13, 2011

Traveling By Bike

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Written by: Kyle Raffo
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8.7.3 (301)

Travelling by bike is cheap - you don’t have to buy a ticket to jump on a bike, and it won’t need to be topped up with petrol. It’s also reliable – no more waiting for buses that don’t show up – and fast, with dedicated cycle lanes often letting you skip the traffic. It helps keep you fit and, with zero carbon emissions, it’s good for the environment too.

Planning your route

Cycling on busy roads can be dangerous, so it’s safer and more pleasant to make use of routes that aren’t full of other traffic. Off-road, cyclists can ride on bridleways but public footpaths are off-limits.

The National Cycle Network, coordinated by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, covers over 12,000 miles of traffic-free paths, quiet lanes and traffic-calmed roads. A map of the whole network can be downloaded from the Sustrans website and the site also has an interactive mapping facility that lets you find dedicated cycle routes near where you live.

Several local councils have produced their own cycling and walking maps showing recommended routes. Check with your local council to find out if there’s one for your area.

Bike safety

Wherever you’re cycling, wearing a helmet will help protect your head in the event of an accident. When choosing your helmet, it’s vital you try it on before you buy. Helmets that don’t fit snugly around your head will offer little or no protection, and you’ll be put off wearing one that’s uncomfortable.

It’s also a good idea to wear light clothing or, ideally, high-visibility gear like a reflective vest. These help other road users to see you.

The rules of the road

As well as staying safe yourself, it’s important to ride in a way that’s safe for others. You should always give way to pedestrians and horse-riders, and use a bell to let them know you’re coming.

If you cycle on the roads, the Highway Code applies as much to you as other drivers, so it’s worth being aware of what rules apply to cyclists.

If you’re cycling on the roads at night or in poor visibility, it’s a legal requirement for your bike to have:

  • A white front light;
  • A red rear light;
  • A red rear reflector;
  • Amber pedal reflectors on the front and rear of each pedal.

You are allowed to use either steady or flashing lights, provided they’re bright enough.

Bike Security

Whenever you leave your bike, it’s important to lock it to something solid and immovable (ideally a proper cycle parking stand), in a well-lit area, using a strong lock. Solid D-locks are usually the most effective. It’s worth putting a lock around the wheels as well as the frame, especially if they’re quick-release.

It’s a good idea to take a photograph of your bike and make a note of the frame number and any other distinguishing features. This information should help the police identify it if it ever gets stolen. It’s also worth registering your bike for free with Immobilise and getting it property-marked or tagged.

You might also want to consider insuring your bike. If you live in a house that has contents insurance, the cheapest way to insure your bike is often through extending the existing policy. Otherwise, there are a number of companies out there that offer specialist insurance for bikes.

Taking your bike on public transport

If you’re travelling a longer distance, you may want to take your bike with you on public transport. Most train companies allow bikes but you often have to book in advance, so check with the individual company before you travel. Local bus services don’t usually allow bikes, but long-distance bus and coach services will often let you put a bike in the luggage hold if there’s room. Again, check with the individual company. Folding bikes are much easier to carry on all forms of public transport and are usually treated as an ordinary piece of luggage.



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