Cycling has enjoyed a significant rise in popularity in recent years. Perhaps the 2012 London Olympics provided a hefty boost, but cycle traffic has been on the up since 2008.
Almost one in ten over-16s cycle at least once a week, amounting to around four million people, while 1.3 million people cycle five times a week.
It’s not as if people can be categorised as just a cyclist or just a motorist anymore because one in six (15 per cent) holders of a full driving licence cycle more than twice a month. Similarly, around four in five cyclists hold a driving licence.
Spurred by the bright mornings and relatively decent summer we’ve had this year, I opted to switch four wheels in favour of two for my work commutes.
It’s cheaper than driving in and paying to park, quicker than the bus, and it guarantees me a certain amount of exercise every weekday.
Here at Motor-Vision, we’ve already looked at the sacrifices associated with swapping the car for the bike, so this time, we’re focusing on life lessons that motorists can employ too.
Energy is precious
Hopping on two wheels makes you realise how much energy actually goes into moving even a few metres.
In a car, progressing up the road involves nothing more than simply putting your right foot down. It’s so easy that it doesn’t matter if you need to press the brake a few seconds later.
However, on a bike, you only want to squeeze that brake when it’s absolutely necessary, like in an emergency or at red lights and junctions.
I’ve found that this economical mindset has taken hold in an automotive setting too. As a result, I’ve been looking further up the road more often so if I think I may need to brake, I’ll ease off the gas; usually, the obstacle ahead has moved by the time I would’ve reached it.
Consequently, the fuel used to get the car moving wasn’t for nothing and I can continue without any wasted energy.
Take your time
This point ties into the last. Every time I cycle into work, I witness several motorists dart off from the lights, only for me to overtake them seconds later when they run into a queue or another red light.
Simply by assessing the road ahead, you can save fuel and minimise stress by taking your time. Even if you’re running late, no amount of horsepower is going to alleviate road congestion.
Additionally, cycling along at a steady pace means you’ll have more time to react and brake if you need to perform an emergency stop, which, on two wheels, can certainly rattle the nerves.
Courtesy keeps you alive
Confession time: I wasn’t the most polite driver in the past. Behind the wheel, I was happy with my music blaring and anything outside my little motorised container rarely received any acknowledgement.
All that changed when I started cycling to the office. With my metal bubble comprehensively popped, I was completely exposed to the elements and suddenly, the road and everything on it became very real and immediate.
It made me immeasurably more aware of not only other road users, but also my own positioning. On a bicycle, you’re a lot more vulnerable so becoming complacent has the potential to land you in some hairy situations.
I have never been in a car crash and it seems even more unlikely now (touch wood) with my new-found appreciation for road positioning and heightened awareness.
Stay on top of your tyre pressures…
Either in a car or on a bike, all that separates you from the road are those big, black, rubber circles. It’s a cliché but there’s a lot of truth in that sentiment, and I’ve come to appreciate it more during my time cycling.
As such, I regularly check that my bike’s tyres are pumped to the optimal pressure.
Stick too much air in there and you’re more likely to risk a puncture if you hit a pothole too hard. Fail to pump them enough and you’ll struggle to pick up speed properly and waste a lot of energy.
…and maintenance generally
Admittedly, bicycles are much easier to maintain than a motor car, but keep on top of the basics and you’ll minimise the likelihood of anything more serious developing.
Are there any other road principles that apply to both cyclists and motorists? Share them in the comments section below.