You have never ridden a bike before, or its the first time since you were a kid that you are endeavouring to ride. Where do you start? The truth is that you just need to do it. According to a previous Goodordering blog post and a very scientific survey, the top reasons why people don't ride bikes the main reason is the "Perception of road safety", so try to put your fears to one side and focus on all the positive benefits of riding a bicycle.
I have put together two lists, the dos and don'ts when starting to ride a bike. Here is the summary.
- Borrow a bike from a friend
- Ride in a park first
- Use a hire bike
- Wear a helmet
- Have a bicycle bell, and don't be afraid to use it
- Have fun
- Take a bike lock
- Cycle with a friend
- Don't wear a long floaty skirt or flared trousers
- Don't be in a rush to get somewhere
- Don't try for the first time on a bike thats too big or too small
- Don't ride in the rain
- Don't have a swinging bag you need to carry
- Don't ride for the first time in a foreign city
Below I expand on the above points a bit more so keep reading.
Borrow a bike from a friend, before you commit to buying a bike its good to test out riding with low pressure so borrowing a bicycle from a friend is a good idea. You can then get a better idea of what kind of bicycle you will want to buy for yourself. However don't get deterred if the bike doesn't feel perfect for you as this could also put you off.
Ride in a park first: If you can find a park or road with no cars to practice on first it will help build your confidence. You will be able to get used to riding without the fear of having to navigate through traffic.
Use a hire bike: when you use a hire bike it takes the pressure off making any big decisions. City bikes that you can hire by the hour are always a good start.
Wear a helmet: For extra safety its wise to use a helmet, but of course you can make up your own mind. We have written a guide to the Pros and Cons of wearing a helmet which you can read HERE
Have a bicycle bell, and don't be afraid to use it. Bells can be a great way to communicate with other cyclists and also pedestrians. Using your bell doesn't have to be an aggressive gesture it can also be a friendly warning that you are approaching.
Have fun, when you are having fun you are more likely to be relaxed. It’s important you are not stressed when starting to cycle again for the first time so don’t feel pressurised by friends or family if you are not feeling it.
Take a bike lock, having a lock will give you options for stopping off, having a break or if you panic, there might be an option to leave your bike somewhere and come back and get it later.
Cycle with a friend , if you can get a friend who is more experienced with cycling, then cycling with someone else will also make it safer for you. But don't chat too much whilst you are riding you need to keep focussed!
Don't wear a long floaty skirt or flared trousers: these can get stuck in the chain or bicycle wheel and could cause an accident, its one less thing to worry about when you are rookie rider.
Don't be in a rush to get somewhere: take your time and don't start riding a bicycle when you are going to be late for an appointment or in a rush to get somewhere. You need to be relaxed so make sure that you give yourself enough time.
Don't try for the first time on a bike that doesn't fit, if the bike is too big or too small the ride could be downright dangerous and might put you off riding more often, so make sure the first bike you try riding on fits you!
Don't ride in the rain, rain can cause the road to be slippery, and can also effect visibility. Its best to ride for the first time when the the weather is right and comfortable.
Don't have a swinging bag you need to carry, in fact make sure that you are not overloaded with luggage. Try using a bicycle pannier bag if you need to carry things so you don’t have to carry it on your body.
Don't ride for the first time in a foreign city, as tempting as it is to hire a bike when you are on holidays, try to at least have had some prior experience riding around a more familiar environment where you know the road rules and local culture.
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Here is a fun video featuring Bill Nye about how to get started on a bike, shot in NYC