When you first start working it doesn’t take long to decide that buses are a last, last, very much last resort and that walking can take too long. So what do you do? My suggestion is to start cycling to work!
The main dangers for the commuting cyclist, isn’t the cars as you may think. Most motorists in cities have a deeply embedded fear of hitting a cyclist nowadays, there’s so many of us that the locals are used to the nerve-racking tendencies of cyclists. No, the main danger comes from pedestrians and buses.
Pedestrians are stupid is my golden rule, so many don’t look when crossing the road, some enjoy popping out from behind cars at the last minute and others have too much faith in the ability of road users. The best thing you can do about pedestrians is always stay alert, it sounds obvious but by staying alert you can predict where they will reappear and plan accordingly.
Now a little bit about buses. They are long, long enough that they don’t always see you. So my first tip is to stay away! In all seriousness, the best thing to do when there’s a bus in the way is pretend to be a car. Hang back and wait until its clear then make it crystal clear you’re over taking and go for it. Never undertake, you will end up squished between the bus and the pavement with a load of bleary eyed bus dwellers staring at you and shaking their heads.
The even better alternative is to plan your route. I originally started cycling the way to work that is familiar to me, which is straight to the main road into town. But… I mentioned buses, right? This road is overflowing with them, you can’t go 2 minutes without one rumbling past. The next day I checked the maps and found a series of roads leading through a residential area that meets up with the main road just before it enters town. Perfect!
Now, for my 6 reasons why I choose to cycle to work and why you should consider it.
- Work is exhausting – you rock up early in the morning and slouch out late in the afternoon. Cycling negates this effect, instead of the entire day being spent inside something, be it a car or at work, you get fresh air in the morning and afternoon. This helps to clean your head and raises your overall fitness leading to feeling better.
- Traffic – you’re likely to miss most traffic jams completely by either whizzing past it all or taking a nicer and quieter route that wouldn’t be feasible in a car.
- The freedom – when you cycle you feel like you can fly anywhere. In a car you’re stuck to your normal route surrounded by honking, aggressive people all in a hurry to get somewhere but when cycling there is nothing to stop you making your own way along side streets to see where you end up.
- The exploration – after cycling for even a month you will know your streets a lot better and your natural homing skills will work further from home as the areas become more familiar. A fun exercise is to test yourself by taking random roads and then trying to find your way back on a different route. Sometimes it works, sometimes you will get hopelessly lost.
- It’s social! – more than likely there are other people at your work cycling in who wouldn’t mind teaming up for a quick potter about occasionally. If not, use a GPS app on your phone (such as Strava) to find other people in the area to enter a one-sided competition against on the segments.
- The thrill of the ride – cycling is fun, believe it or not. You are out there, come rain or shine and enjoying it! You soar down that hill, and feel the thrill of going fast and then its up the other side, but you know that the effort feels good.
So there you have it, the top six reasons to commute by bike to work from someone who only started a year ago. What are your reasons for cycling to work? Do you have any tips for new cyclists worried about braving the city roads for the first time?