Cycling is a healthy way of getting around. With the increasing number of cyclists on the road, many are ignoring rules, laws and advice that is intended to keep them safe whilst on the road.
What bike to bring?
Bus and train season tickets can be eye-wateringly expensive for the cash-strapped student, and it save you a lot of money if you make short trips by bicycle. If you're going to a Uni a long way away from your home, you might find it tricky to transport your bike across the country. You can pick up cheap bikes on eBay, Gumtree etc, so it may make more sense to buy one in the local area of your Uni. There are many different types of bike all with different purposes in mind.
You can pick up a new mountain bike from as little as £100-150, and they're all generally hard-wearing and durable. If you plan to do offroading it's the obvious choice, and they also serve as good bikes to get around town. However, if you plan to cycle to the weekly shop you may find issues fitting racks and panniers to them (especially full suspension bikes).
Awesome bikes to bring to the skate ramps but not particularly practical for everyday use. You'll find riding a BMX for any considerable distance uncomfortable at best, especially with a rucksack full of Uni work/beer.
If you're a speed demon then these are the bikes for you. A relatively fit person can comfortably cruise at around 17-18mph, meaning you'll likely be faster than the bus in town. Longer distance rides are covered with ease too, with plenty of room for luggage attachments. Road Bikes come at a considerable premium to Mountain Bikes in terms of price, though. The lightweight frames mean carrying them up/down stairs is easy, and the quick-release parts mean you (or thieves) can remove the wheels and saddle with ease. You will need to be very thorough with locking a road bike, and you might consider bringing it into your room if there's space.
These are a cross between road bikes and mountain bikes, mixing the lighter frame and thin tyres of the road bike with the upright position of a mountain bike. Very practical with loads of options to add panniers and luggage.
A Bike Lock is essential in the UK. Buy a D-Lock instead of cable locks, they're much less susceptible to thieves being harder to cut through. As a guide, you should look at spending at least 10% of the value of your bike on locks for it. If you can, try not to bring a brand new, shiny bike as it serves only as a magnet to thieves.
Remember to lock your bike against something solid and ensure that it does not block any access to any buildings. Many universities and councils now remove bikes and impound them to ensure that access to places remains free. Signs should be clearly displayed for places where you should not park your bikes.
There are many laws that cover cyclists.
You need to be highly visible to other motorists.
You SHOULD have
- A Helmet that conforms to present regulations
- Appropiate clothes that are not going to get caught in the chain
- Light Coloured or Fluorescent clothing
- Reflective clothing in the dark
At night, you MUST have
- Front and Rear lights that are lit
- A rear red reflector
- Amber pedal reflectors
At night, you SHOULD have
- Front white reflector
- Spoke reflectors
Observation of Signs
You should obey all traffic lights and signs. If a cycle track is segregated, you must stick to the side which cyclist are supposed to. When passing groups of people, you should reduce your speed accordingly in case someone mindlessly steps out into the road.
Cycling by Train
You can only walk with your cycle whilst on railway property according to the railway byelaws. It's a good idea to check the cycle policy on the train you're travelling on (see this link ) as some companies don't permit cycles on trains at busy times. There's often a restriction on the number of bikes allowed per train too, if you're travelling as a group