Commuting Info and Discussion (Read first post)

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Commuting Info and Discussion (Read first post)
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Posted: Aug 4, 2012 at 13:07 Quote
Disclaimer - I did not write this guide, but it was put together by a member on

-This is the Commuting Thread for any type of bike, but it was placed in Road, 29'ers etc. for obvious reasons.

-Post your commuters.

-Ask questions commuting related.

[Useful Links to Threads for other Enquiries]

Part Names & Abbreviations for Beginners

Road Info Discussion

Fixed Gear Info & Discussion

MTB Quick Question Thread



Primary, Secondary, what do they mean?
You will hear mention of these phrases a lot but what doe they mean?

SECONDARY position is the place on the road where most riders will comfortably ride, just out past the yellow (or red lines) not in the gutter but not too far out to cause conflict with overtaking vehicles (around the same position as painted cycle lanes). This is your natural position when cruising along an open and un-restricted bit of tarmac.

PRIMARY is a position set further out from the curb and more towards the centre of the lane. Taking primary generally has two objectives. First is to overtake a slower vehicle (but this is generally referred to as overtaking position and is not held for any extended length of time).
The other and more important, is when you adopt this position to “HOLD” back or deliberately cause traffic approaching from behind to move wider of you than they would usually.

“WHY use primary, surely it upsets other road users to hold them up?”.......
This may be true (and should be accepted and acknowledged with a wave of thanks) but holding primary is imperative at times to ensure your own safety.
Try holding primary when...

•You pass through pinch gates or width restrictors (to stop vehicles accompanying you through a pinch point)

•A central traffic island causes a severe decrease in the width of the road

•Passing a line of parked vehicles (to ensure cars only pass you when it is safe,
and to avoid entering the "door zone )

•Entering or passing an obstruction such as traffic works or contra-flows, where
only one vehicle safely can fit (consider yourself THAT vehicle)


Traffic Lights

You are a vehicle on the Queen’s highway and as such are expected to abide by the “HIGHWAY CODE” , which states that you must stop at red lights.
If you ignore this rule you do so at your own peril and can expect to antagonise other road users. You may also attract the attention of the authorities (who are increasing their prosecution of
cyclist who jump red lights).
To help you to stop and wait safely, the department of transport has created a separate area (at the front of the lights on most city junctions) for you and your bike. It is called the ASL (Advance Stop Line) or sometimes the ASZ (for Zone).
REMEMBER: The ASL is not a target, there is no pressure for you to thread your way up into one just because one exists. If you feel more comfortable to hang back a few cars, then do so.
DON’T JUMP RED LIGHTS. You will put yourself at risk for no reason. It takes so long to negotiate a junction that is closed to you that you may as well sit and wait, anyway you may need the rest.
There is a school of thought, that suggest those who do jump lights, enrage road users to the extent that it puts other cyclists at risk of revenge (or at least impatience). You will be surprised at the positive reaction you will get if you stop at red lights, this will help you later in your journey as you can be sure to meet the same drivers over and over at each set of lights.

It is a large green painted box , sometimes bright blue, sometimes red (in certain cities/locations) and is in advance of the standard stop line. It is provided ONLY for cyclists and not for motorised vehicles.
Use this box to position yourself so that all following vehicles can clearly see you and are aware of your intended direction of travel, do not sit on the left hand side of vehicles at the lights, either sit behind them or “filter” up to the ASL and sit in clear view. Do not be intimidated by drivers behind you and feel confident to sit in “primary”, but be prepared to move away smoothly and swiftly to the left hand side (if traffic conditions dictate) when the lights change.


Right Turns

Plan your turn well in advance, do not leave it until the last moment to swerve out into traffic to get to the
middle of the road.
Ensure you give a clean indication to following drivers that you intend to move out, try turning your head
and maintaining eye contact (this is very effective) or if you struggle to look back for extended periods,
glance back and provide a very clear hand signal.
Practice looking back over your shoulder until you can do this for a prolonged period without wobbling
Once there is a large enough gap, move out and take the centre line, ready to turn.
As a golden rule, it is never too early to get out into the middle in anticipation of a right turn, don’t be
afraid to move out early and ride the centre of the road until you are ready to turn.


Left turns

Basic left turns seem straight forward, just slow and turn. But consider other vehicles that want to also turn left.
Shocking statistics confirm a large amount of accidents are caused at left turns, so beware.
Large H.G.V’s, coaches, busses (especially bendy ones) and trucks will all tend to cut the corner when turning, so be
aware of their needs and fall in behind them if necessary.
At a stationary junction NEVER, NEVER, NEVER move up the left hand side of a stationary HGV or large vehicle (even if
it is not indicating). If it moves away and cuts the corner, you will be in huge danger ...
sadly, many deaths & Injuries occur each year because of this basic error.
An experienced and skilled cyclist will never put themselves in this position, if you spot an inexperienced cyclist acting
this way, tell them!!
In moving traffic, when filtering up the left hand side (if you choose to), be constantly aware of left turning vehicles or
gaps that indicate a vehicle crossing the flow of traffic from the right (into your path)



Busy roundabouts can seem daunting and some riders resort to jumping off their bikes and utilising the public foot way to cross them.
In actual fact, roundabouts are one of the simpler traffic control systems to negotiate as all traffic obeys one simple rule “always give way to vehicles from the right”
The skill is to ensure that your position and attitude communicate to other road users that you are a VEHICLE and they should give way to you too.
To do so, take a strong position (Primary) in the middle of your lane, to ensure you are not under/overtaken and lost in the line of sight ( see fig i).

Assume this strong position early on to ensure you are not pushed out of place and hold the position as you approach the mouth of the Roundabout, signal clearly and ensure you make eye contact with vehicles approaching the mouth of the roundabout (where most accidents occur) whilst keeping an eye over your shoulder to control traffic behind you.
As you approach your exit, change your signal to the appropriate arm and move across to exit.
Maintain the centre of your lane throughout and do not hug the kerb of the roundabout,remember, roundabouts are designed to allow the continued movement of traffic, so expect
vehicles to approach the entrance of a roundabout with the assumption of retaining movement.
You must make yourself visible and prominent to let them know you are there and to stop them
encroaching into your space.


Cycle lanes

“Why it is sometimes best to use your own judgement on road position
(rather than that of the D.O.T).” Cycle lanes are designed to try and provide a safer, defined area for cyclists to ride. Unfortunately, most UK cities were not planned or developed to allow for the increase in popularity of cycling and as such cycle lanes need to squeeze into an already congested road plan whilst working around some ancient geographic features.
What all this means is that CYCLE LANES ARE FAR FROM PERFECT. Be aware of this and don’t rely on them to do your job for you. Always read the road ahead, particularly at junctions where cycle lanes will entice you along the left hand side of stationary or moving vehicles (that may turn left across your path) . It is advised to ignore cycle lanes at junctions and negotiate a path around the “offside” or right hand side of vehicles to reach the ASL (see Traffic Lights & Junctions above) or to move across the junction.
Often cyclists are criticised for coming out of cycle lanes at junctions (whether in moving or stationary traffic) as this makes them appear to “dart all over the place”. Ignore this criticism, it is levelled by those who do not understand the perils of cycle lanes and junctions. Either hang back behind vehicles at junctions or go around their right hand side, never sit on their left.
Cycle lanes are also often very slim and are sometimes a token gesture, indicating a cycle area. Unfortunately, uneducated road users assume they are a restriction that you are supposed to ride within. This can cause them to overtake close to the edge of the cycle lane, on the assumption that they are correct in doing so. If you ride in a cycle lane,ride to the outside edge (towards the middle of the road lane), this will allow you escape space to move into if overtaken to closely.



How to communicate and interact with other road users to make your journey safer.
Negotiation is communication. Make eye contact with drivers of motorised vehicles to show your intent and allow them time to react, provide clear signals. Once complete, thank the driver with a wave of
communication and continue.
If you need to slow down to check a junction or suspicious gap in traffic, communicate this to the following road users with an exaggerated look or tilt of the head, they should react positively and give you time to ensure your path is clear. Remember, you are not asking for permission to undertake a manoeuvre, you are communicating your intent and as such need to do so clearly and assertively.
Negotiation requires you to integrate with other road users (rather than to separate yourself from them) and as such requires confidence and a contentment to mix it up with other drivers.



Traffic Jamming, threading, weaving?
Can I do this?
Threading, weaving, filtering through stationary traffic are all allowed on a bicycle, but should be undertaken with MAXIMUM awareness and care.



The different approaches and attitudes required to ride in the city.
A confident and commanding attitude is helpful when cycling in the city,however overconfidence can cause issues and aggressiveness can lead to confrontation.
Always apply the mental rule that you have as much right to occupy the road as any other vehicle...and so do they!
Try to be courteous and make a point of showing gratitude for any courtesy shown to you.



How best to protect yourself physically during (and legally after) a collision.
You will never need to use this section, but in case you are interested, or are conducting some research, here are a few suggestions. In the event of a collision,
• Try and protect your “core body” (where all your major organs live) and your head. If you have time roll yourself into a ball as much as possible, bringing up your knees (to protect your abdomen and chest) and elbows (to protect your head and face).

• If you fall in the wet, and are not in any immediate danger of colliding with any other objects, then let yourself slide and don’t try to stop the momentum (by grabbing or trying to stand as you slide)
• Once settled, do not try to immediately stand up (your instinct will be to do so and try to carry on, as pride and our survival instinct cuts in) try to stay still and calm whilst you asses if any injury has occurred. Only get up if it is dangerous to stay put

• Don’t worry about your bike...its replaceable.

• If injured, get help. Don’t try to sort everything out yourself. Bystanders are generally very helpful in the event of a collision.

• If you are conscious and able, then collect witness details

• Don't get into a row with those involved in the collision, this will achieve NOTHING

• Don't settle with the other party at the scene as this will compromise any proceeding compensation or legal claim for costs.

• Take NOTHING they say for granted, in front of a crowd and without the time to talk to friends and partners, people will make all sorts of kind offers that they
will later retract (you will want to believe that they are different, but it is best to assume they are not)

After a collision
• Get to hospital to have your injuries assessed and RECORDED.

• Take photographs of all injuries (especially a few days later as the bruises etc are starting to develop)

• Take your bike (unless it has been collected as evidence by the police) to a bike shop and have ALL damage assessed and proceed to repair. Even slight
impacts can seriously damage the integrity of your bike’s frame and major me you don't want your bars, or frame snapping whilst you

• Process a legal/Insurance claim.

• Keep receipts for all costs incurred (travel to work, medical etc)

• Take it easy and get better, prepare yourself for a long legal debate and settlement of costs.

Insurance and legal advice

Many companies specialise in cycle related insurance and legal support.
In addition, membership of some cycle organisations entitles you to both.
Organisations such as;
CTC membership entitles you to some of the best legal advice and support In the country and comes highly recommended by the Cycle chat commuters.
Sometimes, even retrospective membership can be arranged to cover your claim. Speak to them as soon as possible or consider joining their organisation now (to be properly prepared)
Alternatively, CTC usually use intermediary legal firms to settle disputes, there is nothing stopping you going direct to them. Generally CTC use;
Russell Jones Walker


Specific tips for riding in the wet.
Riding in the wet is not just about visibility, grip and brakes. Often, people do very strange things when confronted with a little rain and you will need to be aware that pedestrians may jump off the kerb, out of cars or simply dart across the road, just to avoid getting a little wet.
People in vehicles seem to have less patience in the rain and are less likely to be courteous or helpful.
Keep your eyes open in the wet.

Firstly, you become a lot more invisible in the wet (rain droplets on mirrors and fogged up rear windows help to hide us very well) so always switch on your lights in the rain, even if it is a shower and is in broad daylight. Never take your lights off of the bike even in the summer for this reason, always be prepared for the rain. Besides you may be delayed and have to travel in the dark.

Also take time to ensure other road users have seen you (at junctions and intersections) by confirming eye contact.

When riding in the rain, avoid taking bends at speed or acute angles, take your time to work your way around the bend in a more upright position (position yourself well in the road before a bend to allow this).
Spilt fuel (diesel/petrol) can sometimes show up in the wet (bonus!) and look a little like a greasy rainbow on the tarmac. If you can see it then avoid it. If not, then be aware that spilt fuel floats on the wet surface of the road and makes life even more slippery.... and is often invisible to you.
Drain covers and painted lines become very slippery in the wet (especially the slightly raised painted lines that are formed of a semi-plastic paint) avoid braking or taking bends when riding on any of these surfaces, if the back wheel slips out you can do little to stop it.
If riding in icy conditions, then assume the whole road is one big drain cover, painted in raised paint with a good helping of diesel and grease.


Brakes take longer to work in the wet as the brake blocks have to clear the rim of water and gunk before doing their job. If you don’t learn how your brakes react in the wet, then you risk pulling too hard and locking up your rims when the brake blocks finally find purchase. Try to keep your braking even (front and back) and avoid sudden “yanks” of the brakes.

Importantly try to allow more time and distance to avoid over-braking, don’t put yourself in a position where you will need to react in an emergency.



Here are a few essential contents that you may wish to consider carrying when riding in a city.


•Puncture repair kit, (unless you ride with solid tyres).

•Spare Inner tube, (unless you ride with solid tyres).

•Small pliers/multi tool (essential for getting glass/nails out of tyres) ... (unless you ride with solid tyres).

•Mobile Phone.

•Spare batteries (for your lights...even in the summer).

•Oyster card or travel permit (just in case).


•Latex gloves or hand cleaner.

•Puncture repair kit or/and Spare Inner tube

•Tyre levers


• Pump.

•Thin cycling jacket

•Have something reflective on your or the bike


How far is a long ride and how long should I allow.

Those considering commuting by bike often want to know if the distance they plan to travel is usual and how long it will take. It all seems a little daunting at first especially as some people’s experience of cycling could a weekend ride with friends or family, or popping to the shops etc.

So let’s try to put your mind at rest.

Firstly, people commute many varied distances, the longest commutes from riders on this forum seem to be in the region of 20-25 miles and the shortest is around mile or so. Many people commute EVERY SINGLE DAY and others restrict the ride to one, two or maybe three days a week.
There are no rules to how far or how often you want to ride but if you want a guide, you are most probably going to cycle at something between 12 and 15 miles an hour (as you begin to get used to the ride) and should allow extra time for traffic (lights and congestion) and prevailing winds (which can have a dramatic effect on your speed...and energy!) . At this speed a 20 mile ride should take around 90 minutes and a 5 mile ride should take around 20 minutes to half an hour.
If your commute is a longer distance, then consider splitting the ride with off days or purchasing a folding bike that can be taken on the train for part of the journey (perhaps the return trip).
So, give it a go, you will be surprised at how far you can ride in a city, most are pretty flat and congested

If you want to plot a ride, calculate the time & distance or check to see how hilly your route will be, check out and click on the “course creator button”, you will find a helpful “elevation” button on the right hand pane to illustrate your “highs and lows”.



How best to avoid confrontation and enjoy your ride.
To help you to avoid confrontation, try to remember that we are all human and are all capable of making daft mistakes (see “attitude” above)
If confronted, try to remain calm but assertive. If you are confronted because you made a mistake, accept the error and offer a wave of sorry or even thanks.
If you need to take primary and in doing so, hold up the following traffic (as you will often need to do) offer a wave of thanks or consider pulling over occasionally if the hold up is going to be a long one (such as climbing a congested hill).
Showing other road users that you know what you are doing and you appreciate the impact it has on them, will help to defuse potential animosity
towards you.
If you are confronted in an overly aggressive way, seek witnesses/support, record registration plates and drop across to your local police station to report it....or get a camera.
Try your best not to initiate a confrontation by calling out insults or threats to other road users, despite the temptation.



You are not permitted to ride on pavements, unless you are a small child.
However many cycle paths are cleverly disguised as pavements. If you are not sure check the local website for cycle ways or look at the pavement in question and try to find a small circular blue sign with a illustration of a person and a cycle, or a small lamppost mounted blue arrow.

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Unsecure image, only https images allowed:
If all else fails, and you are already on the pavement (tut tut for not checking) then observe the pedestrian crossing’s, if the little “green man” light has an accompanying green bike.



There are no legally quoted speed limits to cycling, so in effect you can ride as fast as you want.
Be mindful that, in slower moving traffic, high speed cycling will put you in road positions that other road users may not anticipate, this can often surprise them as you pop up in their field of view.
Although this is not your fault (it is the other road user for displaying a lack of observation) you can mitigate this risk by anticipating your position and ensuring you place yourself in plain sight of others....weaving through traffic at high speed is not an altogether clever idea.



There are masses of pages of debate on what should or should not be worn when cycling in a city. The bottom line...wear what you feel comfortable and safe in. I would advise wearing bright clothing which makes you visible in all weather.

Anything else is speculation and subjective.

Most of all, always wear a helmet. It's much more dangerous riding in a city around so many dangers than other places.

Be Seen not hurt (From Cycling Plus Magazine)

• A high visibility jacket,vest can be effective, but only in low light situations, such as dusk and dawn.

• The most reflective colour is pure white, this can be good to wear in darker situations which is recommended if you're commuting with reflective stripes, you shall be 20-30% more visible than a yellow high-viz.

• If you're carrying a rucksack or anything which covers your back, buy reflective tape (you can buy this from shops or online) and stick it on anywhere that makes you visible. Even around your belt, as somebody has done. Cuffs, ankles etc.


•Don't restrict yourself to a single constant front light and constant rear light, ride with additional flashing LED's on the front and rear. A good example are Knog Frog Strobe lights as additional lights.

•Many good courier bags have loops holes and places to attach flashing LED's too.

•One of your front lights (main one) should be bright, not a cheap LED light which is white. You need something within the £25+ range to help make you visible.


Data protection laws do not currently seem to restrict the use of head cams for filming rides (although the law on this point is foggy to say the least).
Many riders record journeys for posterity. Others prefer to post videos of poor driving on websites such as YouTube to help educate drivers and riders alike.
Some simply wish to retain a record of the trip as something of a “black box” that will record data that the rider is unable to collect (number plates, company livery etc) when preoccupied with riding a bike in the city.

This leaves the rider free to take evasive action in the event of an altercation without being concerned about recording details. Head cams can arguably reduce the potential for confrontation as other people are aware that they are being filmed.
If you choose to film your ride there are many threads relating to the selection of cameras designed for the job, ranging in price from anywhere between £40- £400 and sometimes upwards of thousands of pounds
It has recently been noted that YouTube will remove video footage if a member of the public feels it breaches their privacy (or indeed whenever they see fit). It is becoming more common for those “outed” on YouTube as over aggressive or poor drivers, to successfully have this footage removed simply by sending an email complaint to YouTube.



1.Cycle with confidence (road users appreciate this)

2.Look behind you often (some say every 20 seconds!)

3.Never ride up the left of vehicles at Junctions

4.Communicate/negotiate with other road users
(eye contact, signalling, thanking)

5.Don’t jump red lights

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 8:10 Quote
Thats a lot to read! Blank Stare

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 8:17 Quote
Worth it though if you're wanting to commute and know the safety rules and are bored.

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 8:29 Quote
I brake rules 2,3 and 5 Big Grin

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 8:31 Quote
I'm not exactly perfect lol.

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 8:37 Quote
But I wouldn't want any one to ride like me unless they know what there doing!

Posted: Aug 5, 2012 at 10:06 Quote
I guess that's what the guide is there for, ha.

Any improvements could be made to the first post?

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:05 Quote
I just had a quick read, but yeah it sounds good to me, a good guide for a beginner anyway

Pretty important to ride confidently and be freindly, if a car pulls in and lets me have the right of way i always thank them

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:09 Quote
I thought it was well put together too. If anyone has any suggestions though, they can put them forward.

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:14 Quote
The 'Kit/Gear' is a bit much though, but i guess its all useful

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:17 Quote
I guess so. It'd be better for out of town though. I'll definitely take most of the listed stuff on long rides.

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:22 Quote
• Puncture repair kit or/and Spare Inner tube

- tyre levers??

• Mobile Phone.(well duh.)

- Money

• Pump.

- thin cycling jacket

- have something reflective on your or the bike

You can always buy drinks from a shop and you wont die of dehydration on a every day ride

why do you need plyings, you can pull and push thorns out with your fingers or tyre levers

if your lights brake battery's are useless, better off with reflective stuff

money can pay for a train ticket

latex gloves? so what if your hands get a bit dirty, and they usually rip and fall apart anyway

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:24 Quote
Cheers, I'll add those in.

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:33 Quote
Edited ^

we need more people in here, need to get people post there bikes

my main transport at the moment...

not the most practical commuter being a alu' track frame, but at least 75% of my time on a bike is on this, so i still made it practical...

-Rear light.
-Pedal reflectors, spoke reflectors, reflective stuff taped around the frame on the seat stays, reflective bar ends.
-Decent tyres.
-Fast enough (or faster) to move with the traffic.
-Very reliable.
-I can ride it day or night, wet or dry, no problem.

Posted: Aug 6, 2012 at 13:39 Quote
That's a good set up for a commuter. Good to have reflective stuff on your drops so people can see the width of your bars too.

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