If you're going to be cycling as part of your everyday life, you need to follow a few simple rules. Many of us have been everyday car drivers for so long that we've forgotten how to do it.
1 Make sure your bike is secure yet easily accessible. Think hard about where you're going to store your bike: it's no good hiding it at the backof the garage behind the car because that way you'll be too tempted to drive. Use a shed that's positioned near the front or side of the house, and add a good lock or an alarm. If your home only has a side passage, consider building a bike port ... another option is to ask the council to fit in-road secure parking like this in Van Gogh Walk, London. Colchester Cycling Campaign helped to develop the Essex County Council minimum cycle parking standards for new development.
2 Choose a bike that's fit for everyday use that isn't going to require lots of attention. Yes, you can commute on a road bike or a mountain bike but in the long run this sort of bike will be best, especially if you want to carry stuff safely and get to school or work in your everyday clothes without too much of a glow. If you live in a hilly area, consider spending a bit extra to get an everyday bike that has an electric motor, like the one pictured above. There are specialist shops that sell electric bikes. Of course, having a good everyday bike doesn't stop you from having other bikes for evening and weekend fun.
3 Be prepared to get wet. In some years, Colchester has less rain than Jerusalem, but you will still get wet occasionally. If you're riding for more than ten minutes, invest in some wet weather gear or keep a change of clothes in your office drawer or school locker. Build ten minutes leeway into your commute so that you can set out a little earlier or a little later to avoid showers. Keep a diary of the days you actually get wet ... you'll be surprised how few they are.
4 Make a note of how much you're saving on a gym. For every month in which you cycle for more than 20 days, congratulate yourself for saving £30 on gym fees.
5 Look at increasing how much you use your bike. It's amazing how much you can carry in pannier bags and on racks, and a trailer will make big grocery shops at Tesco, Sainsbury or Asda a distinct possibility (we’ve highlighted brands we particularly like but others are available).
6 Cultivate a relationship with your LBS — that's the Local Bike Shop You'll never know when you'll need to slam your bike in for a quick puncture repair or similar TLC. If you know the people behind the counter or in the workshop, all the better. Also, have a taxi number handy just in case you want to get home with your bike in an emergency.
7 Work out your best routes to school or work and help Colchester Cycling Campaign improve them. Let us know the routes so that we can add them to our list, and when politicians knock on your door at election time, don't hold back: give it to them with both pedals!
8 And finally, don't feel guilty if you have to make the occasional trip by bus or car.
Please let us know if any links are out of date