Cycle commuting is awesome, however, unfortunately for us cyclists this world isn’t perfect. Through my experience of cycle commuting, I’ve come up with a list of seven things that you will encounter at some point whilst commuting by bike. Don’t let these things get you down just learn to expect them so when they do happen, you’re ready for it.
This is a fairly obvious one. I’m sure everyone who’s ever ridden a bike has experienced a flat tyre at least once. If you need to be at work or a meeting for a set time, however, flat tyres can be a big delay to your day. You could carry a puncture repair kit around with you, but if you’re in a rush waiting around for the repair to dry may not be feasible. I’d suggest always having a spare innertube on you whenever you’re on the bike. Trust me, you’ll thank me for that one in the long run.
According to the met office climate data, in London, UK there is rainfall on 29% of days each year. Roughly speaking, this means for every 10 rides you do, you may get soaked on three of them. Don’t let the rain get you down, think of it as character building. It’s important to have the right kit to stop you getting thoroughly soaked when it does rain. Waterproof bag covers, waterproof helmet covers and jackets should all be considered on rainy days.
If you ride a bike regularly, there’s no doubt about it, you will come off every now and then. Even if you think you’re the best and safest cyclist in the world, unexpected things do happen which could leave you on your side in the middle of the road. Within my first month of cycle commuting I’d already come off once on a big patch of black ice (Note to self, black ice, country lanes and a racing bike don’t go well together). Wear protective equipment to minimise the damage done when / if you come off your bike. A decent helmet and a pair of gloves are normally a good place to start.
You’re on a bike weighing around 14kg, they’re in a car weighing 2,000kg. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s the most vulnerable. Drivers can do unpredictable and idiotic things. Always expect the unexpected when driving on main roads and make sure you are visible! High visibility clothes, lights and more high vis!
Day Dreaming Pedestrians
“I can’t hear any car engine so nothing’s coming, right?” I’ve had countless pedestrians just step out into the road in front of me without looking because they cannot hear a car engine. Make sure you’ve got a bell on your bike to alert pedestrians who aren’t paying attention to your presence.
Believe it or not, not everyone is as alert and aware as yourself. Cyclists may do stupid things such as running red lights or stopping in front of you, which may affect your journey. Don’t let this anger you, just give them the look of disgust whilst you make yourself comfy on the moral high ground you have just gained.
On a bike, you’re a prime target for abuse to be thrown at you. Nothing very meaningful, but you will get told to “get a car” and if you wear tight clothing you may even get wolf whistled at. I used to cycle past a secondary school on my commute and I consistently got “complimented” (and I use that word loosely) on my cycling tights.