Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting general

Cycling newbie seeking road safety guide?

Green28Green28 Posts: 8
edited February 2011 in Commuting general
Hello everyone,

After not cycling for some 15 years (since I was a young teenager) I have got a bike again (a nice custom made one by a mate from a recycled 80s steel frame and a mix of retro and new parts).

I want to start cycle commuting my 5 mile each way journey soon on some busy roads and while I’m pretty rusty on the actual cycling, I should be able to figure it out, but I’m a bit more concerned about my ability to know what I should do on the roads and how to react to the cars so they don’t kill me – I’ve never learnt to drive (I don’t ever really plan to with the implications of peak oil) and am clueless about roads, signalling, signs, etc.

What’s the best introductory guide for cycling on the road? Should I consult that Highway Code thing or is there a more appropriate guide for cycling?

Thanks!

Glyn

Posts

  • Get a lesson from a cycling instructor

    1. They are usually free via your local council
    2. As an experienced commuter in London, I learnt a hell of a lot when I did my instructors course.
    3. If you cycle in the gutter and don't understand the primary / dominant road position, you shouldn't be cycling.
  • Thanks! I’ve ordered a copy of Cyclecraft and will see if I can get a lesson in my area (Angelsey). I guess the gutter is the bit right next to the kerb but yeah I haven’t got a clue about road positions.
  • jomojjomoj Posts: 777
    good luck with the cycling Green, if there's one golden rule to safe riding on busy roads its that you must make yourself part of the traffic, not try and avoid it.

    I'd be interested to read that cyclecraft book. I consider myself a traffic hardened cyclist and like most people have built up a number of strategies to keep myself safe over the years, just wonder how they tally with the official guide!
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,697
    Welcome to the forum Glyn.

    The Highway Code has more content for drivers but you must know what you (and they) should and shouldn't do. I would strongly advise you to buy a copy and study it in detail, though you can read this for starters:
    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTr ... /index.htm

    Franklin's book Cyclecraft is the bible, but there are other resources too. Articles like this one appear in mags like Cycling Plus regularly:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/articl ... ioning-197
    Have a look in the archive at http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/technique/archive

    There are contact details for training on http://www.anglesey.gov.uk/doc.asp?catid=4754 and you could ask CTC's Chester and North Wales group if there is training and how you can get your confidence up.

    I ride far enough out that I don't ride over drain covers, I'd say it's about 2.5 feet from the kerb/white line, usually in cars' left hand wheeltracks. Approaching parked cars, pinch points - where the road narrows or there's a pedestrian refuge so there isn't really room for a vehicle to pass safely - or if I want to turn right I move further out again after a quick look over my shoulder. If the drivers behind don't like it, tough sh*t.

    And don't let any dickhead tell you that you shouldn't be on the road / should ride on a path / don't pay Road Tax (abolished in the 1930s). There are too many mouthy, arrogant but ill-informed drivers around these days but hang around here long enough and you'll surely learn some suitable responses :wink:
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • jeremyrundlejeremyrundle Posts: 1,091
    edited January 2011
    Sorry but I am honest, and if you are that "concerned" should you be cycling, my advice would be don't even go near a road until you are confident, you will be a danger to yourself, drivers and other cyclists :? :shock:

    Take a course first.
    Peds with ipods, natures little speed humps

    Banish unwanted fur - immac a squirrel
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... heads.html
  • jeremyrundlejeremyrundle Posts: 1,091
    Green28 wrote:
    I guess the gutter is the bit right next to the kerb but yeah I haven’t got a clue about road positions.

    I find it hard to believe that someone who must be about 30+ does not even know what a "gutter" is, or the "highway code "thing"" it is in every day language, even children know what this is, please, seek advice before cycling from cycle trainers or someone.
    Peds with ipods, natures little speed humps

    Banish unwanted fur - immac a squirrel
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... heads.html
  • fair points JR but assumng that s/he's genuine:

    Ride feet not inches from the kerb.

    ride with an experienced friend as often as you can to see how they position themselves and interact with others on the road AND the pavement.

    assume everyone else is an idiot / hasn't seen you / doesn't give a toss about your feelings or safety / is having a bad day - ride so that you can steer round or stop before stupid car or pedestrian manouvres.

    Beware ipods - they cocoon people from reality and makes them step off pavements etc without a thought for whats going on around them.

    Cars will happily turn left inches in front of you or flash someone to pull out or turn across in front of them oblivious to you batting along the road and into their path

    wear clothing that makes you stand out from the background you're riding through (usually means yellow, red, orange etc).

    High Visibilty clothing helps reflect light back at drivers.

    have lights on your bike - more than 1 each front and back - try to avoid £3 supermarket or pound shop specials you need reliable and ones that the beam carries into the distance.

    its not macho or clever to wear shorts and a t shirt when its peeing down or freezing cold - dress appropriately to the conditions.

    dress your bike appropriately too. mudguards in winter & tyres better suited to regular wet or icy conditions (esp whilst you're inexperienced) you can take the guards off and put slick faster tyres on when it starts to get warm again.

    cycling specific clothing / jackets etc are a good investment, they're cut for comfort on the bike and vented to help keep you as cool as possible.

    you don't have to spend a fortune - general sports shops like decathlon are good and economic for beginning cycling till you find your riding level and if you want to invest more heavily in it.

    It sounds like you need to find yourself a basic maintenence course or at the very least get a cycling friend to show you some basics - fixing a puncture, changing a cable, setting your gears up etc.

    take time setting up handlebars and saddle to the correct height and angle for comfort.

    keep you're tyres pumped up to minimise punctures, clean and lubricate your bike regularly, don't use a jet wash on it,

    invest in a decent lock D lock is best or gold standard cable/chain. £5 from wilkinson isn't worth it

    carry a toolkit - multi tool (or allen keys & screwdriver), tyre levers, pump, puncture repair kit, spare innertube, batteries for lights, a few cable ties or little velcro straps are always useful.

    controversial suggestion but whilst you're unsure of yourself and in traffic - wear a helmet - whilst you're new and inexperienced it may help if you have a slow wobbly fall off. you can decide later if its for you and read up on the wealth of 'evidence' and opinion for and against.

    rely on all your senses, look and listen plenty, before you get out on the roads go to a cr park or quite safe road and practice looking behind you whilst keeping riding a straight line.

    get out and enjoy riding.
  • Shouldbeinbed + 1...

    Also - don't pee about around HGVs/PSVs. Absolutely don't undertake, and if their signaling to make a manouver, let them get on with it then go past.

    The important thing is confidence. Know your rights, Know your obligations. OWN your bit of road, Know what's going on around you and be decisive when you manouvre. You are not holding up traffic, you ARE traffic.
  • jeremyrundlejeremyrundle Posts: 1,091
    JonEdwards wrote:
    Shouldbeinbed + 1...

    Also - don't pee about around HGVs/PSVs. Absolutely don't undertake, and if their signaling to make a manouver, let them get on with it then go past.

    The important thing is confidence. Know your rights, Know your obligations. OWN your bit of road, Know what's going on around you and be decisive when you manouvre. You are not holding up traffic, you ARE traffic.


    Oh how I agree with this, I used to ride in the gutter before this advice was given to ME here, what a 100%+ difference now.
    Peds with ipods, natures little speed humps

    Banish unwanted fur - immac a squirrel
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... heads.html
  • get in touch with your local authority road safety dept as they should be able to give you training to National Standards up to Level 3 stage. This course is about using the roads and highway code correctly . Thats if your up for a bit of one to one instruction
  • Thinking about it - 2 other things.

    Try and get fit/fast. It's much easier to move around and to control the flow of the traffic passing you if you can ride at roughly the same speed as the cars. Round London it's quite easy. Obviously if you're out in the sticks, with faster moving traffic, less so.

    The other thing is to plan ahead. Eg, if you want to turn right, plan the move early, spot the gap in the traffic you want to use to move out to the centre of the road, accelerate out into it and arrive at the junction already out there. I see far too many riders leave it way too late. They're stopped on the LHS of the road opposite the junction, looking to cross fast moving traffic at a right angle. Just doesn't work.
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    Or contact Jaqueline Ashworth via:
    http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/training/trainer/2045

    She covers Anglesey andGwynedd
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • ,,& beware hoods, you can find a quick look over your shoulder in busy traffic can be alarmingly obscured by a wind filled hood or one pushed out of position by a rucksack!
Sign In or Register to comment.