Cycling to work

Ever thought you'd like to ride to work, but feel unsure about how to get started? Don't worry, riding to work is easy - all it takes is a little forward-planning...

How far is too far?
Everyone's situation is going to be different but generally one to three miles each way is achievable by most people as long as there's a route that allows it. Between three and five miles each way to work might need building up to but is still very do-able. Five to ten miles will take a reasonable level of fitness and might only be achievable once or twice a week. Over ten miles is getting into serious fitness territory but that shouldn't put anyone off from leaving plenty of time and giving it a go.

Check your bike
If you don't currently ride at other times for fitness and fun, it's important that your bike is in proper working order. This isn't just a safety thing - it's just much more enjoyable to ride a bike that's working well. If you're unsure, a good local bike shop will be able to help - phone around and see if there's one that sounds like they care. At the very least pump up your tyres and put some oil on the chain. And if you think it might be dark when you'll be riding, you'll need front and back lights for your bike.

Find out about the facilities at your workplace
Find out what facilities your workplace has for people who ride their bikes to work. Is there bike parking, showers, and a place to store your riding gear? Do you need a special key to access any of these? Other cyclists in your organisation will probably have the best knowledge of these kinds of facilities, or your HR team may be able to help.

Choose a route
The route you take to work will have a large impact on how much you enjoy the ride. Remember, the way you drive to work won't necessarily be the best route for riding. It's not always possible but try to use roads that have dedicated bike lanes, or stick to smaller streets with slower speed limits. Trial the route first if you can.

Find a buddy
Ask around at work or amongst your friends and find out if there is anyone who already rides the route you're thinking of taking. Ask for tips, or see if they'll ride in with you on the first day - most friendly enthusiastic bike riders are happy to help another person test-run riding to work!

Plan your wardrobe
Some riders ride in their work clothes. Others change once they reach their workplace. Have a think about which you'd prefer.

Be prepared
A lot of people worry about getting stranded if something goes wrong. But there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the chances of it happening to you.

Take it easy
Cycling shouldn't be more strenuous than walking - unless you want it to be, of course! When you ride to work, relax and take it easy - enjoy the scenery, go at your own pace, and don't worry if people are overtaking you.

Leave extra time on your first day
The first few days you ride, set off 10-15 minutes earlier than you think it will take you. Riding in traffic may slow you down, and you might have to stop and look at your map to check the route, or there could be an unexpected detour. Having some spare time will help you to relax and calmly deal with any situation that might arise. If possible, try out the route beforehand.

Be aware
Understand your rights and responsibilities as a bike rider. Bicycles are recognised as vehicles and as such have to follow road rules, such as riding on the left, obeying lights and signs, and signaling properly at turns. Take extra caution and look out for pedestrians - at rush hour, there can be lots more people on the roads than normal.

Don't overdo it!
Riding to work should be enjoyable, not a chore. Only ride to work as much as you feel like - you might want to start with one day a month or once a fortnight, then build up to riding more often like once a week. Allow yourself some flexibility.


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