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to be a bit nervous of just cycling on the road without training?

(34 Posts)
AnUtterIdiot Mon 24-Aug-15 12:47:37

I learned to ride a bike as a child but never rode on the road. As an adult I still know how to ride a bike and am pretty confident in the park, but have still never ridden on the road. I currently live in a very traffic-y part of London and would like to commute to work, a distance of about 3 miles (mostly for exercise, but partly to save money).

I'm nervous of just cycling on the road without any sort of training but some of my friends think I'm being a bit wet. I've been trying to sort out subsidised/free road cycling training with my borough but it's taking ages as it's oversubscribed. Should I just square my shoulders and hurl myself out there?

WorraLiberty Mon 24-Aug-15 12:48:53


Have you looked into how much a paid course would cost?

AnUtterIdiot Mon 24-Aug-15 12:57:20

Thanks Worra - I was starting to doubt myself! I'm going to look it up now.

squigglehead Mon 24-Aug-15 12:58:58

YANBU especially in London! Definitely get some training OP, it can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

maybebabybee Mon 24-Aug-15 12:59:23

YANBU at all, it's really dangerous cycling in London.

I personally wouldn't do it at all (as I am a scaredy cat) but definitely look into doing a course if you are dead set on it.

Thelushinthepub Mon 24-Aug-15 13:02:02

Hmmm I'm in 2 minds. I have never heard of adult training to cycle on the road and tbh it's just common sense (maybe have a read of cycling proficiency test?) but, London is quite different. I have cycled it myself in the past but would now only stick to quiet roads or cycle paths. The city and west end have too many HGVs

WorraLiberty Mon 24-Aug-15 13:04:25

Cyclist death/injury rates are quite high in London so it would be worth it.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 24-Aug-15 13:10:19

I know, I always used to say I'd never cycle in London and I am a bit nervous about it. But I'm quite worried about my fitness levels, and if I don't do something like this the reality is that I am not going to fit enough exercise into my day to sort myself out (long, unpredictable working hours). Plus most of my journey has either parks that you can go through or proper separate cycle superhighways, and lots of people using them, so cyclists are more of a collective presence on my route if you see what I mean. I also know lots of people who do cycle and so far (fingers crossed, wood touched) have escaped unscathed.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 24-Aug-15 13:10:57

Sorry, I meant to say thanks to everyone for confirming that I am being sensible rather than wet! smile

fredfredgeorgejnrjnr Mon 24-Aug-15 13:14:46

Erm, adult bike courses are very cheap or even free in London, check your local authority website. Ours are 5 quid

blueshoes Mon 24-Aug-15 13:19:55

Women cyclists have physical and behavioural characteristics which make them more likely to end up in accidents than men, such as being slower on the roads, less visible than men, less confident to take up room on the road.

As a cyclist, I would be a danger to myself and probably others on London roads. I saw the aftermath of the last fatal accident involving a female cyclist in the City on my way in to work just minutes after it happened.

blueshoes Mon 24-Aug-15 13:21:26

You will definitely need to take a course for London cycling, at the very least. Good luck.

Goshthatsspicy Mon 24-Aug-15 13:25:14

Take a course. Really do.
I ended up suffering with PTSD after watching a young female London cyclist die under the wheels of a lorry.
You can never be too prepared. Think very carefully, even if you do take the course.

Catonthematwiththehat Mon 24-Aug-15 13:27:38

TFL have recently started running a course. I saw it advertised on the back of a toilet door at a pub. Try searching for that.

Goshthatsspicy Mon 24-Aug-15 13:29:22

It makes me furious to see how those fucking Boris bikes are pushed.
No extra cycle lanes though are there?
Just hop on and go.
It is crazy.

scifisam Mon 24-Aug-15 13:37:26

If you can't find anything easily online then maybe call your local bike shops and ask if they know of people who offer courses to adults. It would also be helpful in telling you which bike shops know what they're talking about; the good ones usually have contacts with bike trainers.

I actually found London better for cycling than the suburbs because the traffic's so very slow. Just never undertake without tons of space, even in stationary traffic (undertaking as a whole is better avoided anyway), avoid lorries like the plague - don't even give a thought to undertaking or overtaking them, just avoid them even if it means pulling off to the pavement and getting off the bike or signalling a legal move into another lane - and get off the bike and push it on the pavement when it feels safer.

IndridCold Mon 24-Aug-15 13:41:09

There is a brilliant book called 'Cyclecraft' by John Franklin which I thoroughly recommend. It explains clearly how to ride safely and confidently.

Djangor Mon 24-Aug-15 13:43:52

Definitely do a course. I cycle regularly outside of London & where I live some drivers & some pedestrians (on joint footpath & cycle paths) are horribly agressive and anti-cyclist. I work regularly in London & have a long walk from station to office but haven't yet plucked up the nerve to cycle there. I am angry that the number of cyclists who are killed or seriously injured in London each year keeps rising and it seems that the car or lorry drivers involved usually face no penalties. I would hope that the course will cover the situations where accidents are frequent & how to avoid these.

serialworrier Mon 24-Aug-15 15:33:14

I also have the book Cyclecraft - it is very useful and thought-provoking. I'd also suggest doing a paid-for course if it takes too long to get the free training in your borough. The more confident you are, the more car drivers respect you.

Also - look like a "person on a bike", not a "cyclist". Car drivers seem to treat "normal" people on bikes with more respect than the head-down lycra-wearing cyclist who radiates aggression. You can still be confident and aware without having to wear all the gear and have no idea, as the phrase goes. As someone said above NEVER undertake, especially lorries. And definitely not if a vehicle is indicating left.

babybat Tue 25-Aug-15 13:45:22

YANBU - it can be intimidating cycling on the roads in London, and I found doing a couple of sessions of cycle training very helpful. If you're in London you may find you can apply to both the borough you live in and the borough you work/study in (e.g. to both Wandsworth and Camden). You can also apply directly through TfL, but I don't know if they'd just direct you to your 'home' borough who you've already contacted.

Failing that, I know a few cycle trainers who may be able to do a paid-for session - DM me if you're interested.

CatnipMouse Tue 25-Aug-15 15:31:26

Hello! I used to cycle in London every day for years, the only times I ever fell off were entirely my own fault, and I used to take some hairy routes in the dark. I don't ride a bike there any more but that's cos I moved out of London. Cycle training may help your confidence but I don't think it's always necessary, but you say you haven't used a bike on the road before so it sounds like a good plan. Perhaps ride the route a few times on a Sunday morning when the roads are quiet, to give you an idea of the junctions that feel a bit more problematic, and try out a few different routes. Take a friend who cycles, as they will spot things to watch out for that you won't see first off.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 25-Aug-15 15:41:46

Do a course for sure and Id also advise watching some cycle accident videos on YouTube........not to put you off! I learnt a lot from watching them, gave me ideas of stupid things drivers may do, stupidity from cyclists, taught me about cycling in the primary position, positioning yourself to be visible at lights, junctions, etc.

MrsLupo Tue 25-Aug-15 15:41:47

YANBU. I used to cycle in central London 20 years ago and it was pretty fucking hairy even then. I wouldn't contemplate it now without training, and I would think twice even after some tbh. YY to everything PPs have said about lorries. I knew someone who was killed by one of those giant aggregates trucks a couple of years ago, and he was a very experienced cyclist. As a driver, I find confident cyclists who are prepared to take up their space assertively on the road are the least stressful to be around. Wobbly folk without the right safety/visibility gear make it harder for everyone to be safe.

littleducks Tue 25-Aug-15 15:57:50

Have you checked the borough you work (if you do) in too, in case their list is shorter? Ours offers free training and a women's bike club to people who live or work in the borough. Altenativly see if you could get some paid for training (if you are N London maybe google cycle experience and watford cycle hub)

I found the training useful, as a "person on a bike" I think cycling in some parts of London (it is huge and very diverse) safer than other towns, drivers seem to be used to be being controlled, lots of cameras watching them, way more dvla checks than elsewhere and more cyclists/motorbikes etc. on the road.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Tue 25-Aug-15 16:22:47

YANBU. I'm an HGV driver and London cyclists give me The Fear.

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