Lots of people are taking up cycling at the moment in London in order to dodge packed tubes and buses, and avoid not just congestion but also potential exposure to Covid-19 (in Germany, the health minister is appealing for more people to cycle and walk and avoid public transport). And while some cities are banning or discouraging cycling, others like New York and Bogota, are counting on cycling as a way to be able to socially isolate while still getting around (and not causing virus-worsening pollution!), and introducing emergency expansion of the cycle network. We hope this approach (under current circumstances) is adopted in London for those that do need to get around currently.
So, if you’re getting (back) on your bike for the first time in ages, and rather suddenly, here’s some advice from the London Cycling Campaign experts:
- Follow government advice. First and foremost, keep up to date on what the UK government is recommending currently.
- Check bike before you ride. The “m-check” means looking over and checking over your bike for roadworthiness in a few simple steps. From the rear wheel, check your wheels are tightly on, check your spokes are not broken or wobbly, check your tyres are firm and at the right pressure (written on the tyre), then move up to check your seatpost is the right height and tight, back down to the middle, check your chain is oiled, your pedals spin, now up to the stem to check your handlebars and stem are firm, tight and aligned with front wheel, check the brakes work well, look at the frame to make sure it’s not cracked or dented, then finally down to the front wheel to repeat the checks you did on the rear. For more on this quick check and other maintenance issues: https://lcc.org.uk/articles/checking-your-bike-1
- Get a fix. If your bike has more trouble than that, check our list of local bike shops that offer discounts for a service: https://membership.lcc.org.uk/discounts-and-benefits We're aware some bike shops are now offering drop-off/pick-up services and other ways to get a bike mended without social exposure.
- Get back in the saddle. Cycling in London is very safe, and adds years to your life, health-wise. However it can feel quite intimidating. Our extensive FAQ section includes plenty of advice on safer, more assertive riding techniques: https://lcc.org.uk/articles/road-positioning-and-turning-1
- Lock it, don’t lose it. You probably need two decent locks to make theft a far less likely outcome – ensure your frame and both wheels minimum are locked to something solid and secure (that doesn’t wobble when shoved, and the bike can’t be lifted off of). See our short advice page here: https://lcc.org.uk/articles/cycle-security-lock-it-or-lose-it
- Consider helping out. Lots of our local groups and other local community groups are organising food drops and other community support for those who are ill, self-isolating etc. Given bikes are good ways to get around without being in close contact with others, a good physical health and mental health booster, and a good way to carry stuff without creating pollution, if you've got spare time, consider helping out and helping others near you where possible.
- Join us. Our membership means peace of mind with free public liability/3rd party insurance, exclusive discounts on theft insurance and at hundreds of bike, outdoors and other shops, a regular magazine, and you support our campaigning to make cycling safer and easier in London. https://membership.lcc.org.uk/join
We'll be updating this advice as the situation changes.