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Readers' commuter tips for biking the London tube strike

New to commuting by bike? Found yourself woefully unprepared last time? Fear not, readers offer their top tube strike cycling tips.

With one London Underground walkout down, and another planned for next week we asked our knowledgeable readers for commuter tips to help our less experienced cycling colleagues get to work with as little fuss as possible during the tube strike.

Perhaps you've been meaning to try it for ages, maybe there is just no other way of getting to work - aside from sitting indefinitely on a bus that smells like dragon breath and is about as hot. Either way, newbie cyclists, we salute you. Welcome to cycling on London's roads.

The last tube strike inspired loads of people who wouldn't normally ride to work give it a go. Thinking of trying it again this time? Looking for advice? Well, look no further.

1. Plan your route

Jason Woodhouse, who recently completed this year's gruelling 4,400 mile Trans Am bike race, knows a thing or two about preparation. Jason advocates planning your commute and taking a change of clothes to work, something that can be done before the tube strike - making that one less thing to carry on the day.  

Jason Woodhouse Plan your commute. Take clothes to work on Monday. Avoid a bulky backpack to minimise overheating and arriving sweaty. Use a comfortable bike with mudguards to keep you encouraged on those sleepy wet mornings

Unlike · Reply · 5 · August 12 at 12:16pm

While Graham Nicholson reminds us while punctures are, thankfully, rare, it's good to be prepared if and when one does strike.

Graham Nicholson Always have a spare tube or puncture repair kit. Punctures will get you at the worst possible time smile emoticon

Unlike · Reply · 3 · August 12 at 11:37am

Which then descended into a discussion about the best puncture proof tyres (we won't bore you with the details, unless you are in the market for new tyres, in which case click here for our review of the best commuter tyres).

As Patrick Tully succinctly puts it, cycling to work needn't be a sweaty pursuit, if you take your time. 

Patrick Tully Take it easy, wear what you would wear to work - it's not a race.

Like · Reply · 6 · August 12 at 11:59am

A great idea from Nicola Moger (and others) is to schedule a test run in before the day, so you're comfortable with the route - wise words:

Nicola Moger Do a couple of test runs first on a weekend and time the second...add 15 minutes then you won't be rushed. Having done the test runs you will have more confidence and will have time to buy any other kit u need arm warmers, under helmet cap ... water proof socks etc smiley

Like · Reply · 21 hrs

As Robert Dixon points out on Facebook, you don't need to take the busy routes most cars use - chances are you'll find quiet side streets and cut throughs cars can't use, which make your cycling journey much more relaxed. Many parks allow cycling but some, awkwardly, don't, or only on some routes.

Visit the London Cycling Campaign's journey planner, where you can find where you can and can't cycle, and choose from three types of route, from the fastest to the quietest.

2. Remember, you've just as much right to use the roads as anyone else. Be assertive.

Making eye contact with the driver helps them understand what you're doing, and that you're paying attention.

Scott Church Don't be afraid to take the lane, but make sure you look behind you and signal your intentions clearly!

Like · Reply · August 12 at 4:49pm

Even better - do what Alison Heather Porter did and ask an experienced friend to ride with you on the first day. They can give you tips on assertive riding - like riding at least a metre away from the kerb or parked cars and to stay away from lorries' blind spots - as well as, crucially, the confidence to tackle the route alone. 

Alison Heather Porter When I was new to Commuting a work colleague & seasoned cyclist (Bjorn) escorted me to work. This built up my confidence to cope with the traffic. Best tips , do not keep in the gutter, take your line & signal .. Keep an eye for parked cars opening their doors! Avoid being inside lorries turning left ... 

Like · Reply · 2 · August 12 at 12:59pm

3. Which brings us to a key one ...

Watch out for lorries. The London Cycling Campaign has advice about how to cycle safely around lorries here

4. Be considerate

On shared paths, like towpaths, pedestrians have priority, so slow down and give them space ... oh, and calling people idiots rarely ends well!).

Jules Hammond Just because a pedestrian looks you in the eye and sees you approaching, it doesn't mean they're not going to step out in front of you anyway and then look hurt and shocked as you call them an idiot.

Like · Reply · 5 · August 12 at 11:22am

Don't imagine people have seen you just because they look...This is London, after all, and with the strike on there will be even more people on the roads than normal walking, cycling and driving. Cut each other a bit of slack.

5. Lock it, don't lose it

Get a decent lock (we've got a Buyers Guide for that), and learning how to use it (you might be surprised), to ensure your steed is still there at the end of the day. Also, you should consider insuring your bike, just in case the worst happens.

And finally ... here's one foolproof way of avoiding the strike

Though you might have to get your CV out there to find a job elsewhere first.

Chris Townsend Move out of London.

Unlike · Reply · 22 · August 12 at 11:15am


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