Biking 101 - tips for commuters
Got a new bike for summer? You cycled when you were a kid and want to get back into it? You want to ride to school or work? Or maybe you are an experienced cyclist and want to encourage a buddy to get biking. Follow these simple tips for safe and fun cycling.
Setting up your bike
A bike is like a pair of shoes - you need the right fit to be comfortable. Adjust your bike's seat, handlebars and pedals to fit your body. You will need allen keys or a spanner. Ask a biking friend or bike shop staff to help you.
While sitting on the bike, with one heel on a pedal at its lowest point, your leg should be almost straight. This gives you an efficient riding position.
A level seat suits most riders. If you find you are getting a numb bum, tilt the front of the seat down a little, or try a softer saddle. Saddles specifically designed for women are available.
Distance from seat to handlebars
You should be able to comfortably reach the handlebars. If you have to stretch, slide the seat forward on its rails, or buy a handlebar stem with a shorter reach (forward extension).
Start with your handlebars at about the same height as your saddle. Higher handlebars are more comfortable for most riders, while low handlebars are more aerodynamic.
Start off with standard pedals. When you get used to your bike, add toe clips or try clip-in pedals. These securely attach your feet to the pedals and help you pedal efficiently. Toe clips come in different sizes. Choose the size that positions the ball of your foot over the pedal axle.
On the road
Getting around by bike is convenient, quick and fun. Ride with an experienced cyclist to learn good riding habits and find quiet cycling routes.
Obey the road rules
A bicycle is a vehicle, so you have the same rights and responsibilities as other road users. Learn and follow the road rules.
Scan the road ahead. Listen. Look out for vehicles, pedestrians, potholes, cars backing out of driveways, and parked cars opening doors.
Be visible day and night
Wear brightly coloured clothing. Use a headlight, taillight and reflectors at night.
Ride where traffic can see you
Ride assertively in the left lane. Keep about a metre to the right of parked cars. Signal clearly before you turn. Make eye contact with motorists to make sure they have seen you.
Look after your bike
Check for worn tyres, wobbly wheels, and loose handlebars before every ride. Make sure your brakes are effective, lights are working, and any luggage is attached securely.
Lock your bike
Prevent theft by locking your bike, even in the garage at home. Use a D-lock, and lock your bike to a secure object. Take a picture of your bike. Keep your receipt and write down your bike's serial number.
Improve your cycling skills
Join a cycling club, take a Bike Ready cycling skills course, and read Richard's Bicycle Book by Richard Ballantine or Effective Cycling by John Forester.