I have tried to persuade my friends and family to start biking to work, but I've heard every excuse in the book. If it isn't too far or too dangerous, they say there's nowhere to shower at the end or nowhere to lock their bike safely. In most cases, there's an easy solution to all of these problems. If they've got a long journey into the city, why not take the train and then finish off on a fold-up – or keep a bike locked at the station? If there's nowhere to shower, why not join a local gym with the necessary facilities, or cycle a bit slower? And when it comes to finding a less dangerous route, why not investigate the growing network of cycle paths?
If you're not sure how to find a good route in your area, try the online resources – they're getting better by the day. If you live in London, Preston, Bristol, Bath or East Sussex, for example, visit www.cyclemaps.net – it's a great website, which will find you either the most direct route or one that sticks to cycle paths.
Another great resource for cyclists in the Greater London area is Transport for London's cycle maps – which you can order for free at TfL's website (www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/roadusers/cycling/cycleroutes/default.asp). The London Cycle Network is growing every year, and it's now possible to make most big journeys in the capital without having to dice with death on main roads.
For those living outside the capital, the Sustrans website (www.sustrans.org.uk) provides maps for key points along the national cycle network. And once you've managed to get on the route, they're usually well signposted (although it's worth keeping an OS map in your pocket the first time, just in case some helpful passer-by has defaced or redirected the post).
If you live in the North-east of England, or southern Scotland, you may find www.bikeroutes.org.uk of use. Another great site is www.cycle-route.com, where cyclists can post their routes using Google Maps, and share them with other bikers. The site has a forum where you can ask other cyclists for advice on local routes. Most chat is about weekend road routes, but plenty of commuters use the site.
In fact, cycling forums are a great resource for any type of bike-related problem. The CTC's website (www.ctc.org.uk) hosts one of the most popular British forums, but you'll find plenty of active discussions on Cycling Weekly's site (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/forums) and on www.bikeradar.com.
Cyclists are an innovative bunch. Chances are, by the time you've encountered a problem, someone's already invented a solution. Last week, for example, I was sent a new foldable cycling helmet, designed to pack easily into your bag once you're off your bike but without compromising on safety (www.stashkit.com).
This week's weather might not provide the perfect inspiration to start cycling, but once the storms are past you can't blame the weather. Cycling saves you money, it's good exercise, and it's better for the environment than using a car or public transport. What possible excuse could you have for not owning a bike?Reuse content