People's misgivings are often fired by watching other cyclists behaving stupidly. Running red lights, going the wrong way down one way streets, riding too close to parked cars are all stupid and potentially dangerous. But you don't have to ride that way. Here's our two favourite tips: First, if you obey the Highway Code you have every right to be there and second, don't tell the drivers that bikes are faster than cars.
The key to safe riding is being sensible but assertive. Remember that when you pull away at the lights, at first, you will be going faster than the cars. Get yourself sorted and stable before the cars catch up. Stake your claim to your bit of the road, don't be timid, ride where you can be seen and watch out for parked cars; drivers often don't look before they get out. Finally, tempting though it often is, do not undertake or pass a vehicle on the inside. Trucks and lorries often have a huge blind spot here. If they suddenly decide to turn left, that could easily be the end of you and your bike. Pavement riding? Please don't! it gives us all a bad name.
Almost everyone who has bought a decent bike is terrified of having it nicked. The thought of some low life riding about on the bike you love, is sometimes enough to prevent you buying it in the first place. However, it needn't be that way. Essentially, bike security is about two things, Constant Vigilance and Not Being Stupid. Following these principles should make your bike less attractive to thieves and we don't mean painting it a daft colour or covering it with insulation tape; that doesn't work, OK?
Wherever you leave your bike, leave it locked up. And when we say locked, we mean locked to something, like a bike stand or a set of railings. Allow as little space as possible - so fill that lock up with bike and whatever you've locked it to. Don't lock your bike through the frame alone, as that will mean that while your frame stays there, your wheels may not (average cost to replace two wheels on a typical hybrid bike - £170). We recommend you use two different kinds of lock. Why? Because while most thieves will be tooled up to deal with one kind of lock, they might not be prepared to deal with two. Use a D lock to secure your rear wheel and frame to a stationary object. Use a cable lock to secure your front wheel and frame to the same immoveable object. Ultimately, making your bike less attractive is all about making it look more difficult to steal than someone else's. Bike thieves are essentially lazy bastards, so make stealing your bike hard work and chances are they won't be bothered.
Not Being Stupid
Amazingly, some people still take their bikes down to the newsagent, pop in for a paper and are shocked to find that their unlocked bike is no longer there. When selecting where to lock your bike consider the following. Do not hide it in a dark alley where it can't be seen. The thieves will find it and then they won't be seen breaking your locks. Avoid cast iron railings, they are brittle and a sharp blow with a heavy hammer will often shatter them. Avoid street furniture where it's possible to lift your bike over them. (They'll just fold those titchy signs in half and lift your bike over the top). Do not rely on CCTV or security guards - they're all blind. Remember. It's a fact, a significant proportion of stolen bikes were taken because they just weren't locked up. Always, always, always lock your bike up.