Tips for cycling to work

Cycling to work can be a very rewarding experience. You will save money, get fit, lose weight and quite possibly save time. With so many advantages of cycling to work it is perhaps surprising more people don’t commute by bike.

Find the best route

This may sound obvious but because you can use so many more routes as a cyclist than as a motorist, you may not have discovered your best route for cycling to work yet. Be prepared to think outside the box, and spend time researching different routes. An online cycle journey planner like Cycle Streets can be very helpful and offer you a variety of routes depending on your preferences. We also publish a dedicated cycle map of Trafford - an invaluable tool for finding those new routes that you didn’t know about.

The map is also available by email. If you would like a paper copy posted to you free of charge please contact roadsafety@trafford.gov.uk.

Change of clothing

Depending on how far you cycle you might want to keep a spare set of clothes at work. Especially in summer it is good to be able to change into work clothes on arrival. It is not necessary to have a shower, but a change of clothes can make you feel refreshed. Cycling clothes need to be comfortable and not get caught in wheels. This is often different to clothes expected at work. But don’t worry, commuting doesn’t mean you have to dress from head to toe in lycra (unless you want to).

Don’t get angry with bad drivers

If you commute, you will come across many examples of bad driving and thoughtless pedestrians. The trick is to be patient. Shouting at bad drivers will very rarely achieve anything positive.

Be a patient cyclist

Cycling to work is time to be enjoyed. You are getting your daily dose of exercise within the course of your normal daily routine - make the most of it. Leave yourself plenty of time so that you don’t get frustrated by having to wait for red lights or traffic hold ups.

Be safe – be seen

You don’t need special lycra clothes to go cycling, but wearing bright or reflective clothing is very effective at increasing your visibility to other road users, and it is a legal requirement to have front and rear lights if cycling after dark. See our section on cycling at night for more advice on lights and clothing.

Buy the right accessories

Commuting can be made easier through having the right accessories. A bell is great for warning pedestrians and other cyclists you of your presence, especially if you are on a shared use path such as the Bridgewater Way. A good set of panniers is much better than carrying a backpack whilst cycling as it enables you to carry weight much lower down, without affecting the stability of your bike. Many panniers are also completely waterproof so you can cycle on in the rain confident in the knowledge that your lunch, paperwork, and change of clothes is keeping dry. Such accessories can be surprisingly affordable. Your local bike shop will be able to advise.

Encourage your employer to invest in cycling

Cycling to work is so much easier when there is secure cycle parking available at your workplace, and shower/drying facilities to store your clothes etc. Investment in such facilities can make good business sense for employers as employees who cycle arrive at work happier, healthier and more alert than those who drive. Accommodating lots of cars in workplace car parks can be expensive too. There is lots of support available from Transport for Greater Manchester for employers who want to encourage cycling. Email cycle@tfgm.com  or 0161 244 1264.

Get some free training

Free cycle training for all levels of cyclist is available free of charge to all residents of Greater Manchester. A variety of courses are available to suit all people, from those learning to ride for the first time through to more advanced cyclists wanting to gain confidence in handling more complex junctions etc. For more information visit the Transport for Greater Manchester website.

Give it a go!

If you haven’t tried cycling to work before, give it a go! Find your best route, and maybe find a colleague who has experience cycling to work and cycle with them to start with. Once you’ve tried it, you may well get hooked!