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Commuter Novice- your top tips please :)

the_village_idiotthe_village_idiot Posts: 150
edited October 2009 in Commuting chat
As above, will be a commuter novice after a purchase my bike this weekend (Kona Jake the Snake :D )

What are your top tips and advice? I will of course be flicking through cycle craft :D

What are peoples opinion on jumping pedestrian reds (wouldn't chance it if i was gonna get hit by a car!)? Does it carry a fine or points on driving liscence etc?

How assertive are you?

In queing/slow moving traffic- obviously you go on the outside lane. How about two lanes in your directing- do you nip between the two- or on the outside?

Cheers!

Posts

  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    this is worth a read, jumping reds or cycling on the pavements are a big no no, just increases drivers resentment towards cyclist.

    Be a zen master, let nothing get to you.

    Expect everyone to try and kill you.

    For filtering, preference up the outside, but whatever keeps me moving.
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    What RW said. Ride defensively.
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • BentMikeyBentMikey Posts: 4,895
    Tool kit, I carry the following:

    two inner tubes
    p*&c$ure repair kit
    tyre levers
    latex gloves (to keep your hands clean)
    multitool
    minipump or CO2 adapter and cartridges
    zip ties
    old fashioned flat multi-spanner
    Presta-Schraeder adapter (so I can use a garage pump if I have to)
    Spare power links (easy chain rejoining)


    As for your riding - why not get onto your local council and see if they offer some National Standards lessons? These are usually either free or v. cheap as they are subsidized, and they should help you to ride in traffic in real life situations. Given what I've learnt over the years, I'd have no hesitation in paying full price if I had to go back, just to get that focused experience and teaching.
  • PBoPBo Posts: 2,493
    Obvioulsy there are loads of tips, but I think this is key......Don't know how experienced you are as a cyclist (rather than a commuter) but practice the ability to be able to take a good look over your shoulder - try and make eye contact with drivers. One of the most assertive things you can do....IMHO
  • PBoPBo Posts: 2,493
    BentMikey wrote:
    Tool kit, I carry the following:

    two inner tubes
    p*&c$ure repair kit
    tyre levers
    latex gloves (to keep your hands clean)
    multitool
    minipump or CO2 adapter and cartridges
    zip ties
    old fashioned flat multi-spanner
    Presta-Schraeder adapter (so I can use a garage pump if I have to)
    Spare power links (easy chain rejoining)
    an often overlooked toolbox item.....light, don't take up much room - but so versatile!! good call BM

    my rear mech snapped once. fortunately it was all downill/flat home, so using the zip tie to keep the derailleur out of the spokes so I could coast/scoot home was a lifesaver....
  • northstarnorthstar Posts: 407
    In queing/slow moving traffic- obviously you go on the outside lane

    Is that a law then? if you want to cycle up the left do it, just be wary of HGV, Buses etc.
    Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.
  • RetchRetch Posts: 78
    northstar wrote:
    In queing/slow moving traffic- obviously you go on the outside lane

    Is that a law then? if you want to cycle up the left do it, just be wary of HGV, Buses etc.

    For my money banging it down the inside in heavy traffic, unless there's a clear exit route, is just asking for trouble. All you need is the traffic to squeeze over to the kerb and you've potentially got issues.

    The only time I filter "between" lanes 1 and 2 is in gridlocked traffic, aka the Highway of an evening.

    To be honest I picked up most of my approach to traffic from watching other more experienced riders. You just need to pick the right ones to emulate :wink:
    FCN 5ish. Unless hungover.
  • BentMikeyBentMikey Posts: 4,895
    I'm in the middle of that debate - undertaking leads to the undertakers, which is why I tend to overtake, even on dual carriageways. On the other hand, sometimes there's so much room on the nearside, that it's the better option. Defo lots of caution for any filtering, but more when undertaking. Pedestrian railings would almost always mean no undertaking for me.
  • ketka82ketka82 Posts: 63
    Reading Cycle Craft is the big step in the right direction so well done there. To be honest, if you put most of what its says into practise you can't go far wrong.

    My main tips:

    - Ride assertively but not aggressively. Claim your space on the road but try to do it in a fashion that keeps you safe without annoying others. This is a very hard balance sometimes and you certainly can't please all of the people all of the time (don't even try) but if you do need to be a hindrance to traffic for any length of time a wave or a nod of thanks goes a long, long way. Remember that angry drivers are dangerous drivers....

    - Make eye contact with as many drivers as possible - especially those sitting behind you/next to you at lights and drivers coming out of junctions.

    - Never be afraid to take the primary position if it is the safest place to be. Don't get pushed into gutters/door zones.

    - Don't jump red lights. This may not always be dangerous but does REALLY annoy drivers and other cyclists (both of whom you want to be your 'friend' on the road).

    - Try not to undertake on the left if the traffic is moving. If you're able to move as fast as the traffic move into the primary and 'go with the flow'. Try to only overtake slow-moving traffic on the right. Always bear in mind that the majority of drivers rarely check their passenger-side mirror.

    - ALWAYS look over your right shoulder before attempting any overtaking manoeuvre or right turn. You'd be amazed how many cyclists don't!

    - If you're moving out to the right to overtake a queue of traffic, watch out for motorcyclists, scooters and other cyclists already overtaking on the right. I've seen a couple of collisions where the cyclist has just 'popped out' of the traffic queue without looking!

    - Last but very much not least, read the road and the traffic ahead and watch out for any hazards. Bus stops, cars parked by the side of the road, pinch points, zebra crossings, erratic pedestrians, children, erratic cyclists, traffic lights changing... Try to spot them all from as far away as possible. This will not only help you react to them on time but will also help you predict how the traffic in front of you will react also.


    Phew! I love commuting! ;)
  • good info all round so far.

    in general from me

    Be positive and brave on you bike
    Be courteous to other road users
    Accept that you're on a bike and at some stage are going to fall off or be hit and could be hurt - prepare for that but remember it's a very rare thing so don't let it affect your riding style.

    Think like a driver

    Always indicate your intentions with you arm as well as a look round.

    It costs nothing to give a friendly wave and on a regular commute you often see the same faces/cars so build up a stock of goodwill for when you do make a little mistake and they'll be a lot more forgiving of you (always good when its a ton and a half of metal vs a few stone of squidgy you).

    Dress yourself and light your bike to be seen - a no brainer really and it is one of the regular compliments I get from drivers is that its such a nice change for them to see someone trying to stay alive.

    Take half an hour a weekend to clean, inspect and maintain your bike in top working order - a basic maintenemce course (£70 odd) would be a good idea for a christmas present as it'll teach you how to fix stuff properly and how to spot cables and chains etc going bad before they do fail mid ride.

    a small but decent tool pouch is essential - I've given up carrying a puncture repair kit tho. I've a couple of inner tubes stashed on the bike - it takes (me) just as long to fix a puncture as to bang a whole new tube on.
    Also carry a silver 'space' blanket - they are micro light, fold very small and are a godsend if you're lying on a cold wet road being tended to.

    Always have a card in your wallet with your Name, address, any allergies and your NoK contact details on it. If you're sparked out in a crash the medics will need to know who you are, what could make you worse and your loved ones will need to know where you are.

    likewise carry a prompt card and memorise what to say and do (and not to) in an accident - its all admissible to the cops and further, if you're badgered into apologising or admitting owt whilst you're in shock/banged on the head - you've half lost before you start whatever facts.
  • clantonclanton Posts: 1,288
    One extra thing about undertaking in slow moving traffic - watch for a sudden gap! This may mean someone has stopped to let another car in and possibly another car is about to cross in front (or over) you.
  • clantonclanton Posts: 1,288
    One extra thing about undertaking in slow moving traffic - watch for a sudden gap! This may mean someone has stopped to let another car in and possibly another car is about to cross in front (or over) you.
  • Other tips - look at the RoadID badges (or equivalent - there are plenty now), if your commute is long consider panniers rather than a backpack (avoids sweaty back), make sure you have checked your bike is legal with its reflectors (esp this time of year), consider bike/third-party insurance and get a GOOD lock.

    Once you are sure you are sticking with the commute, consider proper cycle clothing - I am in the process of upgrading from my first set of "budget" cycle clothes to branded (Castelli in my case) and the step up in quality, comfort and ease of use is amazing.

    Enjoy your commute.
  • BentMikeyBentMikey Posts: 4,895
    clanton wrote:
    One extra thing about undertaking in slow moving traffic - watch for a sudden gap! This may mean someone has stopped to let another car in and possibly another car is about to cross in front (or over) you.

    Good point, but it applies just as much to overtaking as it does to undertaking.
  • ketka82ketka82 Posts: 63
    BentMikey wrote:
    clanton wrote:
    One extra thing about undertaking in slow moving traffic - watch for a sudden gap! This may mean someone has stopped to let another car in and possibly another car is about to cross in front (or over) you.

    Good point, but it applies just as much to overtaking as it does to undertaking.

    +1. I saw the aftermath of an accident just the other day where a cyclist was overtaking on the right just as a car in the traffic queue had given way to a car turning right onto the main road....

    The cyclist was on his feet but had made a big dent in the front of the car! So easily happens unless you're looking out for it.
  • Get some decent lights and hi-viz stuff. This past week the cyclists I've seen riding at 8pm without lights have outnumbered the legal cyclists by about 5 to 1!!! My LBS gave me pedal reflectors for free, cuz no-one wants them, but it's the probably the one thing that will mark you out as a bicycle, as opposed to any other mode of transport

    If you want disposable gloves for the toolkit my local Tesco are selling a lifetime's supply for 5p!!

    I always take a tiny tin of Vaseline with me. Sore lips (or anything else!) aren't fun
  • Do a trial run for your commute on the weekend to see which way is best.

    Oh and look behind you a lot when looking to make a move.

    Good luck.
  • CdrJakeCdrJake Posts: 296
    Just ride!

    Observe the laws of the road, get out there and ride and learn from your mistakes. It really is the best way sometimes.

    I will say the a tub of vaseline is a good idea, some lessons are just too sore not to learn. :shock:
    twitter: @JakeM1969
  • wow some really great advice there!! Thanks everyone. Gosh i have a lot to learn.

    My Plan of action:

    Digest Cyclecraft
    Have national standard lessons
    Acquire lights & bright clothing
    have basic maintenance course
    compile break down kit
    buy locks
  • Oh- and i bought it- shes gorgeous :D:D:D
  • My LBS gave me pedal reflectors for free, cuz no-one wants them, but it's ..(snip).. the one thing that will mark you out as a bicycle, as opposed to any other mode of transport

    +1
  • PARIS75PARIS75 Posts: 85
    1. Ride defensively

    2. Use advanced observation

    3. Ride defensively


    after 12 months you will think you own the road

    you dont :wink:
  • My two top tips:

    1. Never presume anyone has seen you.

    2. Enjoy it! You get extra points for starting at this time of year, well done!

    :D
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