How to Cycle Confidently on the Road in one Month
Let’s face it - despite the Singapore Government’s commendable ongoing efforts to make Singapore a more bicycle friendly city, the park connectors and public paths are still not practical options for some of us who commute daily by bicycle. That said, for those of us who are newer to the bicycle commuting lifestyle, cycling on the road can be scary!
In this post, we’ve gathered our 5 step plan to get you comfortably cycling on the roads here. This will help you shave valuable time off your commute to get you where you need to be faster.
Step one: Read up on road traffic rules - learn how to interact with other road users
Before motorists are allowed to learn operating vehicles on the road they are required to take a basic theory test (“BTT”).
Here’s a link to the official BTT handbook for you to read up and learn: https://www.police.gov.sg/-/media/Spf/Files/TP/Online-Learning-Portal/Basic-Theory-of-Driving-11th-Edition-English.pdf.
Step Two: Ensure you have the right equipment - get the right tools for the job
You wouldn’t use a cleaver to eat a steak and the same goes for the bicycle that you use for your cycling on the road. Make sure that you have the right lights, helmets clothes for the job.
Step Three: Practice your essential cycling skills - Master your bicycle
These skills are essential to cycling and with any other skill in life, the more you practice, the better you get. We advise finding a wide open space such as an empty car park and practice these skills on a set schedule until you feel confident:
Emergency braking - the front brake is the most powerful brake but beginners are often afraid of using this due to the risk of flipping over. The Fact is that the front brake is extremely safe if used properly. Before squeezing the front brake hard in an emergency situation, the cyclist has to throw his or her weight behind the seat. That way, the center of gravity will remain on the rear of the bicycle which will prevent it from flipping over. Give this a go starting from a slow speed and gradually build up your confidence by stopping from a higher speed.
Looking backwards - To make sure that your sides are clear before turning or filtering, or to make sure that you haven't left your friends a few kilometres behind, keep your core steady, shoulders square and turn your neck to take a peek behind you. This may be difficult to do at first without your bicycle veering but trust us, the more you practice the better you’ll get!
Signalling - It’s important to communicate with other road users so that they know your intentions and are able to anticipate how you will move on your bicycle for your safety and theirs. A lot of people think that signalling is limited to your hands but we like to recommend making eye contact if you can so that the motorists around you know where you are headed.
Riding out of the saddle - This is extremely important for accelerating quickly and climbing. While it’s not a given that you have to cycle really fast to be on the roads, nobody wants to be that person holding up traffic.
For more information on how to master the above skills (and more) check out our article on essential cycling skills for beginners coming next week!
Step Four: practice cycling on smaller roads first that are quieter - gain confidence gradually
Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect to be rolling down a main road during rush hour right away. Small roads are great for practising because you get some exposure to traffic and get used to cars overtaking you (or overtaking cars for that matter). This is a great introduction to learning how to interact with other road users.
Even if there are no cars around, this still presents perfect opportunities for you to practice looking backwards, signalling with your hands and even filtering.
Quiet roads are also great for soaking in the atmosphere and they make for good alone time with your thoughts especially in the evening when it’s breezy.
Step 5: Move on to larger roads for segments of your journey
Nobody said that you had to cycle EITHER on the road OR on the pavement, so why not do both? That way we guarantee that you’ll get more comfortable being on the road and will start to cycle for larger segments of your journey on the road.
If you have the opportunity and are in Singapore, we recommend starting to try cycling around the roads of Little India. Yes it’s chaotic, but cars are more used to bicycles being on the road there so they tend to be more aware and forgiving.
We hope this blog post has helped you in your journey towards making a lifestyle change towards commuting by bicycle or generally riding on the road. Before you know it you’ll be faster than the cars when they are stuck in the rush hour traffic jam!