Although not new to cycling, many new to cycle-commuting are pedalling onto the roads every day. What we need is a definitive Bicycle-Commute Handbook.
The streets of our cities can be a terrifying place for cyclists – speeding motorists, maniacal cab drivers, blind lorry drivers, suicidal fellow cyclists, it would seem, are all out to get you. As a result, it’s crucial to know the dangers of left-hooking, to learn how to anticipate driver actions, to know when to give way, give up, get off or speed up.
Separately, the offices of our cities can be terrifying places for workers – an alarming increase in Lycra-clad bosses, toilets bustling with changing athletes and the musty smell of sweat and drying clothes lying thick in the air. As a result, it’s also crucial to understand the practical – the value of carrying a pack of baby wipes and the science of work-clothing management.
Our Bicycle-Commute Handbook will address all of these issues and more.
The Handbook, as it will become known, will be created on these very pages, hopefully with the help of readers, but certainly with the collective wisdom of contributors who between them ride thousands of miles a year on London’s streets. (Did you know, for example, that it’s possible to dry oneself quite satisfactorily following a ‘sink shower’ with a single piece of kitchen towel?)
We will split the Handbook into logical sections. Gear. Safety. Fashion. Practicalities. Fitness. Etiquette. And maybe a few others. All are important, but some more so than others. Some will potentially help to save your life, or, at least, your ego; others will help to save your street cred.
We hope to engage with as many of you as possible to include your tips and techniques; speak to experts and planners and kit designers to get their insight into the matter and throw in a liberal dose of laugh-out loud-humour too. (Okay, the last bit might prove a bit of a stretch, but we’ll certainly give it a go.)
There is a huge amount of good practice that most experienced cyclists observe, although they don’t always know it. Examples include embracing primary with confidence, making liberal use of eye contact, having a dedicated pair of work shoes (important, not life saving), leaving a door width for parked cars, rolling up shirts or blouses to maintain that ‘just ironed’ look.
It’s a knowledge that has been learned thanks to countless hours on the road and passed from generation to generation.
The Handbook, however, will be the first time it all appears in one place, in a logical, well-structured format. It will be the first time* you can read how to manage your week’s wardrobe (both on the bike and in the office) in the same place as how to negotiate a roundabout safely or track stand at traffic lights without looking like a bit on idiot. (On this last point, we’re not entirely sure it’s possible.)
The first instalment will come later this week, and I encourage you to get involved, suggest improvements, rubbish our theories, add advice.
The Handbook is coming.
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