(for beginner information see Biking 101 - tips for commuters)
Your friend has recently bought and bike and wants to ride it to work or school. Take them out for a spin and teach them how to confidently ride in traffic. Here’s some quick tips you can share with them.
Cycling in traffic
You need to be able to cycle safely and confidently on busy roads. As the bicycle is legally a vehicle, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other traffic.
Aim to be seen by other road users. Make eye contact with drivers. Cycle assertively. This means taking your proper place on the road, using hand signals and making clear, positive movements.
Don't veer in and out between parked vehicles. Maintain a consistent path along the road. If necessary (e.g. on narrow roads) occupy the centre of the traffic lane, so that other traffic can clearly see you and doesn't try to overtake you unsafely.
Long vehicles cut across corners when turning, so don’t cycle on their inside when approaching junctions.
Plan your route
Look carefully at your route. The best cycling route may not be the route a car driver would choose. Look at a street map and ask advice of other cyclists – they often know the short cuts and quiet roads. Test ride your route on the weekend.
Gear down when slowing
Shift into a lower (easier) gear before stopping. Being in a lower gear will help you start off smoothly.
Keep the pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock when coasting
This helps you stay in balance.
Keep pedalling on long downhills
This keeps your leg muscles from stiffening up, especially on cold days.
Tips for comfort and visibility
The main things you need from cycling clothes are for them to be comfortable and visible to other road users.
You can cycle in work or casual clothes, but if your work requires a high dress standard or if you build up a sweat commuting, you might prefer to cycle in casual clothes or cycling gear and get changed at work.
Lycra cycling shorts are designed to be snug but yielding so that rubbing is reduced and chafing avoided. They have synthetic chamois padding for comfort.
For those who prefer not to wear tight lycra shorts, you can also get baggy-style shorts which have a padded lining. Avoid shorts or skirts that have thick seams in the seat.
Lightweight jackets designed for cycling feature bright colours and rainproof and breathable fabrics.
Long sleeved shirts and blouses reduce exposure to the sun. Tight fits reduce flapping in the breeze.
Natural fibres like cotton are cool and comfortable against the skin. Some synthetic fabrics wick sweat away from the skin. Lycra is worn for comfort, stretch, aesthetics and low wind resistance.
Bright colours are most visible during the day. White or light colours are most visible at night.
Reflective strips are good for extra visibility at night. There are backpacks and shoes available that have reflective strips attached. Fluorescent vests and reflective ankle straps are also available.
Gloves give your hands extra padding for road jarring and can reduce grazing if you fall. They are available without fingers for summer and with fingers for warmth in winter.
Normal shoes or sneakers work fairly well for most people, though stiffer soled shoes are better at transferring power to the pedal and can be less fatiguing.
Pedals fitted with toe clips place the foot in the correct position on the pedal and increase efficiency of cycling.
You can also get a pedal and shoe combination, where special cycling shoes clip into pedals. The pedals are called "clipless pedals" (because they don't have toe clips). Racing cyclists and many other keen cyclists swear by them, but they can be expensive and may take a while to get used to.
New Zealand law currently requires cyclists to wear a helmet while riding on the road.
Setting up the bike
Check “Biking 101 – tips for commuters” for information on setting up the bike to fit the rider.