It’s easy to see why people are turning to pedal power with the chance to avoid public transport, stay active and save the planet all at the same time. Although we know at Laka that riding to work isn't necessarily easy. With bikes, traffic, weather and a few other things you should know beforehand, we thought we’d write a step-by-step guide to crushing your first bike commute.
Step 1. Plan your route
The first step towards conquering your commute is going to be planning the route you’ll use to cycle to work. Keep in mind which roads you have available and any bike paths you can use. You can use a route planner like Strava, Komoot, or even Google Maps to work out the distance and estimate how long it will take.
Whilst planning your route you may also want to consider pollution. Your commute will likely take you into a busy city or town, where pollution levels are higher and proven to be detrimental to your health. Check out this guide from the BBC which rates pollution levels across the country. This research advises keeping away from traffic whilst in stationary queues and opting to use side roads that are tucked away from busier main roads.
If you’re commuting in and out of the capital, you can check out the LondonAir website. This gives pollution ratings for all of the roads across London. Especially handy for choosing which side roads you can cut down.
Step 2: Get hold of your bike
Once you know how long your commute will take, you can get hold of a bicycle that will be capable of the journey. If your commute is shorter (less than 30 minutes), any type of bicycle should be fine, including a road bike, city bike, e-bike, cyclocross bike or mountain bike. If you have a longer commute (over 30 minutes), then you might want to ride a road bike or more efficient machine.
An electric bike is a great option for new cyclists, as the extra assistance provided by the motor will get you to work with less effort! E-bikes have really developed in recent years, becoming lighter, more efficient and more powerful.
If you're on the hunt for the latest e-bike, check out our marketplace which compiles the best deals from across the web.
If you're looking to get hold of a bike take advantage of any work cycle schemes that might be available from your employer. Another option could be to borrow one from a friend or hire a bike from your local bike shop before committing to buying your own.
Step 3. Get your insurance
Now you have your route and your trusty ride to work, make sure you’re protected. Join the Laka Club for £1 and get free third-party liability cover included. This covers you in the event of being sued by another road-user. It could really save your bacon.
To cover your bike, accessories and clothing we offer collective cover especially for cyclists. We won't charge you a fixed sum. Instead we calculate your monthly contributions - up to a max capped amount - based on the collective's claims. It’s a fairer way of doing things.
And when shit does hit the fan, Laka’s got your back. Claims are handled by experts and usually agreed within a day. With no depreciation or excess. Laka are so over annual contracts locking you in…with Laka – if you want to leave, you can. Anytime.
Step 4. Layer up
Before you head out the door in shorts and a t-shirt check the weather. Whilst you’ll get warm from physical excertion, the wind caused by riding at speed makes it pretty chilly. For the winter you’ll want lots of layers. Think gloves, thick winter cycling socks and a hat to wear under your helmet.
The clothing you decide to wear is a personal choice. Some commuters will lean towards wearing plain clothes whilst others will decide to wear lycra cycling kit and clipped in shoes. No matter what you wear, comfort is key, so layers that are light and breathable will feel most comfortable.
Another tip would be to have a good quality pannier or rucksack to transport your work gear in. You'll want it to be big enough to fit a spare change of clothes and some shower gel to freshen up with at work. If your workplace doesn't have a shower, try dry shampoo or wet wipes which are a tried and tested way to get yourself ready for the day!
Step 5. Hit the road
It's time to ride! When cycling on the road you should use hand signals to indicate which way you're turning and stick to bike lanes where possible. Riding on the road can be intimidating at first, but your confidence will soon grow with more experience. If you want to brush up on the higheway code, check out Laka's own guide to The Highway Code for Cyclists. On top of that, a decent set of lights, like these from Beryl, will keep you visible both in the day and at night!
Check out Busby
Busby is a cycling app that's designed to make cycling safer for everyone. The app offers free Incident detection and contact alerting with no time limits. Busby is trusted by thousands of cyclists and has monitored several hundred thousand miles/kilometres of cycling, saving three lives since its launch in November 2019!
Step 6. Store your bike
Woohoo you've reached your work! Now where should you store it? Your bike will definitely be healthier, happier and safer when stored inside. However storing it outside is fine you providing you lock it up correctly. We recommend you use a Gold Sold Secure lock as they provide the maximum amount of protection against bike theft. When locking your bike, make sure the frame is fixed to the bike stand first and then you can think about fixing wheels second. If you're looking to one up your locking game, check out our ultimate guide to locking your bike securely in the city!
Step 7. Aches, sores and discomfort
Last but not least. If you’re new to riding to work you may experience achy legs after consecutive days of back to back riding. Remember to take it easy on yourself and rest when you need to, any day cycling is better than none. Once your tight legs, saddle sore or whatever’s causing you pain has subsided, you’re good to get back on the bike.