Get into... riding to work
Published 17 October 2011
Riding to work saves you money, keeps you fit, can be quicker than public transport or the car, and is good fun! If you like the idea but don't know where to start, check out these top tips – and then head over to our Riding to Work section to find out more.
Check your bike
It's important 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. Check out our basic tips for keeping your bike in great shape. If you're unsure, a good local bike shop will be able to help (the British Cycling website has a useful search facility). If you think it might be dark when you'll be riding, you'll need front and back lights for your bike – it's illegal to ride at night without them (check out our tips for Riding at Night).
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'd drive won't necessarily be the best route for cycling. Riding on roads with cars stuck in a traffic jam and no comfortable shoulder to ride on can be a nightmare, so avoid busy or congested streets – or even better, stick to cycle paths – where possible.
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.
Work out how to carry your stuff
You're going to have to take some stuff with you, so check out the options for carrying your gear, choose the one that suits you.
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!
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. Check out our top tips for riding safely.
Practice makes perfect
Practice your route both ways several times before your first work day trip. Choose a time when the area is quiet, such as on a weekend morning. Practice runs like these will give you an idea of how long it will take, how strenuous it will be, alert you to any possible problem areas like nasty junctions and potholes – and it will fill you with confidence.
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. There's no reason to dress like a pro cyclist unless you want to! Normal clothes are fine unless you're cycling a long way. Check out our guide to what to wear on your ride to work.
Look after yourself and your bike
Take steps to minimise your chances of getting stuck by the side of the road. By keeping your bike in good shape, and having a contingency plan, you'll be in a much stronger position. Find out more about how to avoid being stranded.
Go for it
So all that's left to do is to grab your bike and get riding! For more tips and information, check out our Riding to Work section.