- Why Cycle?
- Tips for Safer Cycling (download our "Commonsense Tips for Cyclists" leaflet)
- Mayo County Council Safety Clip
- General Points
- What About the Rain?
- What About the Cold?
- What About Traffic?
- Cycling Makes Cents!
- Getting Started
- Choosing a Bike and Accessories
- What Journeys are Best for Cycling?
Cycling to work, college or school is one of the best ways you can get a fresh air fix, save money, and save time. And all in a trip you''ve got to do anyway! If you''ve got to get from A to B, why get stuck in a jam? In fact, cycling for any local trip is well worth considering. Whatever the traffic conditions are, you''ll find the time taken on a bike to make any regular journey is very predictable and knowing exactly when you will arrive makes planning your day much easier and a whole lot less stressful.
Cycling can be a very real alternative to the hassle, expense, and pressure of joining a gym. Cycling offers all the benefits of regular exercise. It increases aerobic fitness, it reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and lowers cholesterol. It also helps tone up calves, thighs, and hips and can burn off up to 700 calories per hour! Studies have also shown those who cycle to have a significantly lower mortality rate.
And, don''t worry - you don''t even have to be fit to enjoy cycling. One of the great things about cycling is you can take it at whatever pace suits you. Chances are you will find yourself flying past rush hour traffic without even trying too hard!!
Choosing the bike over the car gives you the good feeling that you are doing your bit for a cleaner environment and more pleasant towns and cities. Traffic emissions are now the primary threat to Ireland''s quality of air but cycling is a clean mode of transport which does not generate any of the harmful exhaust chemicals associated with cars and other vehicles.
Of course, you''ll also be doing your bit to fight climate change. Every kilometre you choose to cycle instead of drive saves approximately 250g of CO2 emissions (for an average car in typical urban traffic conditions).
Not only is cycling an easy way of saving on travel time while getting exercise and staying fit, and helping the environment, you''ll also save money.
So why not read some of the advice below and go out and give it a try?
The following are some advisory notes to enhance your safety while cycling. Please note that cycling (like walking or driving) is an activity undertaken at the individuals risk. These tips should be read in conjunction with the advice of the Road Safety Authority. Click here for RSA guidelines.
- Your bike should be the right size for you, and the saddle and handlebars should be adjusted to the right height for your body. As a rule of thumb, your legs should not be fully extended when you are pedalling, and you should be able to reach the ground with ease with your feet when you are slowing or stopped.
- Make sure your brakes are in good condition and it is not only a legal requirement but also common sense to have a bell on your bike, in an easily reachable place. Although it is not required by law, the Road Safety Authority recommends that you wear a cycle helmet and hi-viz clothing.
- If you are carrying anything, tie it securely to the back carrier, use the basket, or use panniers. Carrying things on your handlebars is not advised.
- Remember, the Rules of the Road apply to all road users so you should familiarise yourself with them – especially the section dedicated to cycling – before taking to the road. The road, we stress, never the footpath.
- Obey traffic signs - red lights mean stop for cyclists as well!
- Always be alert to what’s happening around you. Wearing headphones while cycling is not advised.
- If you are in any doubt about the safety of a manoeuvre, you can always get off and walk your bike. Not only is this acceptable, it might even be quicker!
- When you brake in an emergency, keep your weight on the saddle. Apply the back brake before the front. On very steep hills, consider walking.
- When cycling at night, it is not only a legal requirement, but a vital safety measure, that you have a white front light, a red back light and a rear reflector. Also, consider wearing a reflective ‘high-visibility’ jacket or reflective strips on clothing. These help motorists to see you. Be Safe, Be Seen!
- Always service your bike regularly.
- Passing parked cars:
Many city streets will have parking for cars on the road. When cycling alongside a line of parked cars, leave sufficient room – ideally not less than 1 metre – between you and the cars in case a door opens suddenly. If you are passing a parked car, signal in advance, check for traffic approaching from behind, move out when it is safe to do so, and pass at least 1 metre away from the car.
- Cars turning left:
If a car ahead of you indicates that it is turning left, don’t move up between the car and the kerb, even if there’s a marked cycle lane. Allow the car to make its turn safely. It is advisable to allow cars turning left at junctions room to make their turn.
- Turning left on a bicycle:
If you plan to turn left from a main road onto a side road, signal in advance of the junction to communicate your intention to other road users. As you approach the turn, slow down, stay alert and keep your eyes on the road you are turning onto.
If you are turning left from a side road onto a main road, stop at the junction and wait for a gap in the traffic, then join the main road in the usual position near the kerb. Even though you will be taking a position between the traffic and the kerb, it is advisable to wait for a gap in order not to alarm the drivers on the main road. Be particularly alert to the presence of other cyclists near the kerb line.
- Turning right:
Depending on the type of junction, there are different ways to turn right.
If you want to turn right where there are no traffic lights – either onto a side road, or at a junction – signal well in advance, check for traffic approaching from behind and move out to the right hand side of the lane (or to the left hand side of the lane if the lane is only for traffic turning right) when it is safe to do so and stop at a safe point. If you are entering a side road, this point is opposite the lane you are entering. If you are joining a main road from a side road, this is usually the centre of the road, behind the stop line. When there is a gap in the traffic (you should check both directions if you’re coming out of a side road), make your turn.
At a junction with traffic lights on a busy road, it may be preferable to keep to the left of the road as you move through the junction, and then to join the front of the stationary line of traffic on the left. When this traffic gets a green light, move off as normal.
- Ride in a confident, predictable manner
- Always be respectful towards other road users, including pedestrians
- Know your rights and your responsibilities
- If in doubt, don’t take a chance
- For further information on cycling safety, click here for RSA guidelines
Believe it or not, the average number of wet days endured by everyday cyclists is less than 12% of days cycled! Remember before you jump in the car on a rainy day that everyone else is having the same idea so traffic gets even worse. Get a decent rainjacket or windcheater and check the weather forecasts for days when you might get caught in a shower. Of course, no-one says you have to cycle every day, so if you''re worried about a particularly ugly looking cloud lurking on the horizon maybe just get the bus in that day.
A scarf and a pair of good gloves are essential kit on cold mornings but apart from that, the crisp, fresh air makes cycling really fun and gives one a break from the artificial environments of centrally heated homes, heated cars, and air conditioned workplaces. And of course, as we noted above, cycling is exercise! You are moving and generating your own heat so you will warm up in a couple of minutes.
Many people state that traffic is their biggest turn-off towards cycling. It''s true that it can get busy on Irish roads and that can be a little intimidating at times. But one trick is to be creative about your route - you can go many places on a bike that a car can''t. If you''re not used to cycling in traffic it''s a good idea to avoid busier roads when you start off, especially if they don''t have cycle lanes.
Buying a decent bike, kitting it out as you would like and getting some gear should cost less than the annual car insurance bill. A good quality commuting bike will cost you between €250-500. Lights will cost €25, a helmet €35 and good quality rain gear will set you back roughly €60. A secure lock will probably cost you €50. That''s an attractively small layout for wheels which will offer you a quick, easy and low maintenance means of getting around.
Petrol costs saved for an 8km (5 mile) each way trip to work in Dublin will be on average €400 a year while costs saved on car maintenance (tyres, servicing, repairs) will be around €300 a year. And these figures exclude parking costs! And we are also excluding the standing costs of owning a car such as depreciation. In 2008, the AA estimated these costs at a staggering €4,900 a year for a small-medium size car. [Source: AA Ireland Cost of Motoring].
If you haven''t cycled for a long time, why not get hold of a bike and try it out in your neighbourhood on some of the quieter streets? You will get an idea of the local roads layout from the cyclist''s point of view and it may also give you an idea as to how fit you are!
Whether you''re starting to cycle for the first time or getting back in the saddle after a long break, try cycling in a medium gear (one revolution of the pedals per second). This should be ideal for getting where you are going without too much effort. Once you''re comfortable with this you''ll find your ideal level. As you get fitter and your body gets more toned you will probably look to increase the resistance level and move up the gears naturally.
Bike- You can commute on any bike so get one with a comfortable seat which allows you to sit in a reasonably upright posture. Cycling with your head somewhere below the handlebars may be alright for the Tour de France but it''s not recommended for commuting around Dublin!
Traditional bikes - any bike with accessible gears and brakes on flat bars - are great and the simpler, the better. There is no point in having zillions of gears if you''ve only got an average commute. It just means more maintenance and more to potentially go wrong.
A commuter bike needs to be a reliable workhorse which is better if it doesn''t look too flashy. It should be comfortable and have mudguards and a chainguard which protect you from the weather. A commuter bike can be cheap, good fun and makes a whole load of sense.
Lock- Get a good lock. It cannot be overstated how much it is worth your investment. Such a lock will typically cost between €40-€75.
Lights- When cycling in the dark, it is not only a legal requirement but crazy not to have lights. There are many high quality reliable options around powered by conventional batteries, rechargeable batteries, or even dynamo "standlights" that stay on when you stop.
Clothing- For short commutes on good surfaces, your regular clothing is fine but longer commutes will probably need something more cycling specific - partly so you''ve got something fresh to wear but also you don''t want to cycle too far in something too baggy that flaps in the breeze.
Layering breathable gear is a good way to arrive fresh but a good "Gore-tex" type jacket will only work well if there are breathable layers worn underneath it. For cycling in the city it''s always best to wear something reflective - especially if you plan to cycle after 4pm in winter. Try either a Sam Browne belt (around waist and over shoulder) or a tabbard/gilet/vest.
It''s also worth getting a back carrier or front basket so you can carry handbags, shoes, a change of clothing if necessary, or even groceries.
Helmet- The source of much debate, whether to use a helmet or not? Modern designs are light with plenty of venting and look cool too. The Road Safety Authority strongly recommends wearing a helmet but it is not a strict legal requirement so it''s up to you to make the choice. Whatever you do, try as many on as possible before you buy and make sure you get help in your bike shop. An incorrectly fitted helmet is a waste of time. For local cycle shops see links below.
Journeys to work - if it''s close enough to where you live. In fact, if your work is nearby its very likely that cycling there will be the quickest way. Unlike driving, cycling times are very consistent and reliable.
On business - traffic can be unpredictably bad at any time of the working day - if you''re out and about on business or meetings relatively close to work it can make a lot of sense and save time to cycle when you can instead.
To a rail station or bus stop with cycle parking nearby - if your walk to public transport is too long.
To local shops - bikes with carriers are great for taking "top up" shopping home - and you don''t have any of the stresses of car parking.
To parks or sports facilities - it''s great to get out for some fresh air and exercise, but having to drive there defeats the purpose. Try cycling instead - maybe with friends or family.
Visiting friends - you don''t need to worry about getting taxis or lifts home.
To cinemas or for a meal - again no need to worry about taxis or lifts home and no parking worries either.