Road Safety Week > Bike Smart!

It’s Road Safety Week and the theme for this year is ‘Bike Smart, so here’s a post about how National Standards or Bikeability training can help you to bike smarter.

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Cycling is a safe form of transport that prolongs life through the health benefits it delivers. Although various studies suggest that ‘the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1’, safety remains one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding for transport (see Cycling UK’s site for these and lots of other great stats about cycling).

For our members who are new and occasional riders, lacking confidence to ride on the road is one of the biggest barriers to riding. Amongst our regular riders, not knowing a safe route is one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding to work.

Given that cycling is a relatively safe form of transport and people who ride regularly are fitter, healthier and live longer, what can people do to ‘bike smart’ and boost their road riding confidence?

Luckily, the answer is out there and for many children and adults in the UK, it’s totally free. Bikeability (‘cycling proficiency for the 21st century’) provides children with the basic knowledge and skills they need to ride confidently on roads. It’s based on the same National Standards, written in 2003 and approved by the Department for Transport, that adults who want to ride on-road should also be familiar with. Over 2.5 million people have benefitted from cycle training based on these standards, becoming safer and more competent riders as a result.

We highly recommend cycle training for riders of all abilities. If you ride regularly and think you are a competent road user, you are likely to gain a great deal from a one- or two-hour session with an instructor; a refresher every few years is also a great way to identify and resolve any bad habits that have crept into your biking behaviour. If you’ve never felt confident riding on the road, then cycle training will change your life!

There’s no substitute for doing the training yourself but we’ve listed three of the key principles below to give you a flavour of what the National Standards are all about:

  • The basics

Before riding on the road, you need to be able to make sure your bike is roadworthy (the ABC test is a quick and easy way to do this) and to have the bike handling skills to control it effectively with one hand so that you can signal effectively.

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See details at (click image to navigate straight to the page)


  • Primary position

People on bikes aren’t in the way of traffic, we are traffic – and we should behave like it. This means we must obey the rules of the road and that we are entitled to use all of it. The primary position, also known as ‘taking the lane’, is the default position for riding. By taking the lane you can see and be seen better, you prevent vehicles from overtaking unsafely and you can clearly signal your intentions to other road users.

  • Good looking

In order to be aware of what’s happening around you and to spot potential hazards early, it’s important you look over your shoulder regularly. Anyone with a driving license knows that looking often is key to executing manoeuvres safely – the same applies on a bike. Well-trained road riders will check over their shoulder multiple times – as well as being alert to what’s going on in front and to the side – even for basic manoeuvres. Good looking is also crucial to communicating effectively with other road users: eye contact with a driver is the only way you can be 100% that they have seen you.

Cycle training can help you to bike smart – contact your local authority to find out how you can access it in your area.

As the nights draw in it’s also a good idea to bike smart by using high quality lights and hi-viz gear – you can unlock discounts for these from Proviz, Beryl and Torch by taking part in our Winter Wheelers promo, find out more and register here.

2018 On Two Wheels

2018 has been an action-packed year for Love to Ride: our members have clocked up millions of miles and encouraged thousands of new riders to experience the joys and benefits of cycling, and we have worked with workplaces, governments and advocacy groups to get more people on bikes worldwide.

We’ve run national events in New Zealand, the UK and – for the first time – the USA, where we teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists to run the National Bike Challenge. Over 76,000 people took part in these national programs, joining the growing international movement to get more people on bikes and helping to introduce new riders to a simple, cheap and accessible way to become happier, healthier and wealthier.

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This year our flagship workplace event, Cycle September, went global for the first time, with early adopters of our new Love to Ride for Business product taking part. Love to Ride for Business gives companies their own platform to help their staff switch to cycling for fun, fitness and transport, with friendly competition within and between offices to get more people on bikes. Find out more here.

We also completed a successful pilot in partnership with the National Union of Students and the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges in the UK to get more staff and students cycling in further and higher education. The Department for Transport awarded us an Innovation Challenge Fund grant to work with six universities and we used cutting-edge behaviour change techniques to design impactful interventions on campuses. Find out more about it on the NUS’s website here.

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Wherever we work we are keen to support local bike shops. During Cycle September we gave away well over £10,000 of local bike shop vouchers in the UK and we’re responding to feedback from members to develop a dedicated category for bike shops and other cycling organisations so they can compete with each other in 2019.

We have also launched a new clubs and groups feature, which allows cycling clubs, informal groups and larger organisations like football clubs to invite their members to register on Love to Ride. This is currently in Beta and we are inviting feedback to help us make it a great new feature of the site – look out for Cycling Club league tables and the opportunity to ride for your beloved football club!

But our whistle-stop tour of 2018 on two wheels isn’t over yet… In December we’ll be running our hugely popular Winter Wheelers promo for the third time. We are delighted to welcome back our brilliant sponsors from 2017, Proviz, Beryl (formerly Blaze) and Torch – and to announce that Muc-Off will be offering top-notch bike cleaning kit this year too!

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As well as top-notch gear to help you keep riding through the winter, we’ll be giving away a £500 local bike shop voucher to one lucky winner who logs a ride on Sunday 16 December and a £750 voucher will be drawn on Christmas Day from everyone that logs a ride between 1 and 25 December!

Although prizes are restricted to members in funded areas or at workplaces or universities that have bought into our programs, everyone who registers and records a ride will be eligible for huge discounts from our sponsors – so make sure you join today to bag some bargainous winter cycling gear from the best brands in the business!

If you’d like to incentivise your colleagues to ride in during December, we have teamed up with VitaLife to offer a Boxed Bike Breakfast for twenty people for just £50 – it’s full of warming winter bike fuel like porridge pots and is a great way to celebrate and reward riding to work in winter.

We hope you’ve had a great year on two wheels so far and we look forward to riding through the winter with you! Keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter, or drop us a line if you have any questions:

How cycling has made me happier, healthier & wealthier

Back in September we linked up with Babboe to promote a cleaner, greener, healthier and more economical way to do the school run – with electrically assisted pedal power! We invited members of the Love to Ride community to submit a short post about how cycling has made them happier, healthier and wealthier. We received so many fantastic entries that it took longer than planned for us to pick a winner – and Babboe were so impressed they have asked two runners up to become Babboe Ambassadors too! Congratulations to our worthy winner, Natalie from Southampton, whose fantastic post about discovering the joys and benefits of riding for transport follows:

I love to ride!  11 years ago, I didn’t even own a bike.  The thought of cycling on the roads was frightening.  What about the cars?!  Images of being stuck on the side of the road with a punctured tyre left me cold.  I didn’t want to have to shower and get changed every time I arrived anywhere, and what about the weather?!

Then I got a job where my employer insisted on not using a car and I had to not only buy a bike, but also use it.  Suck it up, Natalie, you’ve got to do this!  I really wanted that job…

At first I was wobbly and, frankly, petrified.  I fell off.  It wasn’t anyone else’s fault.  I had been cycling in the gutter like a nervous mouse.  My previous cycling had been in a relatively car-free environment, as a child, not with an HGV behind me!  But with some practice, and some top tips from colleagues and friends about road positioning and how to mend (and avoid) a puncture, it felt as if I had been liberated!  I’ve not had an accident since.

Suddenly, I understood why people bother.  Cars (and HGVs) were now giving me the space I needed to cycle safely.   I started to build up a level of fitness that meant it didn’t daunt me to go to work by bike if I missed the train, or the congestion was bad, and I would get there sooner.  I discovered all the quiet, alternative routes that you can’t use in a car, but that make a journey by bike a real pleasure, calmly beating the traffic without building up a sweat (or needing a shower), and discovering places I didn’t know existed.  I’ve had just three punctures in 11 years that meant needing to actually stop and do something about it, and actually felt quite a rush from being able to do it myself.  As for the weather, I’ve got soaked to the bone twice, and both times I had actually chosen to go out in the rain.  It rains a whole lot less that I thought it did.

So, where am I now?  I’m not a ‘lycra racer’.  I still get puffed following my amazing colleagues, and I really rarely use my bike just for fun, but despite a busy life, two children and no time for ‘me-time-exercise’, I am fitter than I ever was, just by going to the places I need to go to.  It’s taken a while to psych myself up to it, but I’ve actually sold my car.  It saves us about £1,000 a year.  I love arriving home with the children with all of us refreshed and buzzing, instead of grumpy and in a cloud of toxic fumes.  Who knew?!  I learned to love to ride and I’m so glad I did!