Cycling to work in Sydney, Australia is a lot of fun and great for exercise. But it can also be very challenging if you are starting out.
There are many tips and tricks that you may not be aware of, so here are my best 9. Some may be bleeding obvious but I feel they still must be mentioned.
1. Always wear a helmet.
It is required by law that you need to wear a helmet when cycling in Sydney.
Particularly when riding the streets of Sydney, you would be crazy not to. Often there will be police manning the more frequent riding routes checking cyclists. Wear a helmet to abide by the law, avoid fines and to stay safe.
2. Always have a bell.
A bell is also required by the law. So make sure you have one, because police also look out for cyclists without bells.
There are no excuses for not having a bell as they are inexpensive. They are also very helpful when navigating through pedestrian traffic. Rather than shouting out at the top of your lungs “Rider coming up”, you can politely ring a bell.
3. Do not run the red lights.
Do not every run a red light when riding to and from work.
There are several reasons. Firstly, it’s against the law and yes, you might think you often get away with it, but you will one day be either caught by the police, or hit by a car. Car drivers in Sydney are notorious for driving fast and aggressively. Don’t run red lights.
4. Keep calm when drivers are in the wrong.
Often car drivers will do wrong by you. I can’t count the number of times car drivers have tried to overtake me while I’m riding down a hill at pace. Or the come driving through a round about without first looking for a cyclist.
Remain calm at all times.
If you need to vent your frustration, make sure you get to work or home safely first before blowing your fuse.
5. Carry spare tube, levers and pump.
Unfortunately Sydney roads can be littered with glass. I have no idea why, but there’s frequently glass shattered on Anzac bridge, on bicycle paths leading to Pyrmont Bridge, bicycle paths around the city and so forth. You are bound to have your tyres punctured when commuting to and from work on a bike.
Hence be prepared with a repair kit, tubes and pump.
The alternative, is to use puncture resistant tyres. I find this method the best, as I hate changing tyres.
6. Bring your mobile phone.
You will never know when you are in dire straits.
Bring your mobile phone with you at all times when cycling to and from work.
If anything happens, you can always call for help. Whether it be help for changing tyres, forgetting to lock the door, leaving work access card at home etc.
7. Ride the back streets where possible.
Often riding to and from work invokes the Tour de France within you. Riding for the PB (Personal Best time) is very tempting, but is very dangerous on Sydney roads. I have been hit by a car at a round about in Croydon because the driver didn’t stop and I was riding at full pace – the driver was in the wrong mind you.
I have since learned to get off the busy roads and ride the side streets. And to save my PB’s for the weekend rides. Who cares if I need to take a few more turns and take a few more minutes. Safety comes first.
8. Ride the footpath
Don’t feel ashamed if you need to ride on the footpath if you are afraid of being hit by a car. Often main roads simply are too dangerous to ride, and if there are no back streets, then the only choice is to ride on the footpath.
Safety comes first, hence ride the footpath if you have to.
9. Riding with runners is way more comfortable than with cycling shoes.
My road bike has clipless pedals on it, but I still ride with my ASICS runners anyways. That’s right, I don’t change my pedals to flat pedals. I simply leave them as clipless pedals and ride with my runners. To be honest, I have never asked anyone else whether it works for them, but for me I can still get to work easily.
I like doing this because riding with runners allows me the freedom to easily jump off the bike and walk if I need to. This is useful in some parts of Sydney City where it is crowded during peak hours. I’m also really lazy, and if I can get away with leaving my clipless pedals on, then I will do it!
Summing it up
Keep safe and ride in comfort by following these simple tips and tricks. You’ll find you can avoid the trials and tribulations that I have. Feel free to add your riding tips and tricks in Sydney in the comments!