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Travel / Transport / Bicycle
Riding a bicycle in the UK
Bicycle (c) R.T.Allen
  Bicycle shops
  Bicycle safety and manners
  Bicycle theft / insurance


Many students use bicycles as a cheap way of getting around, especially in smaller towns and in flat areas. Cycles are particularly common in Oxford and Cambridge. Cycling in central London can be quite dangerous, so you may prefer to use the buses as the next cheapest way of getting around. Some parts of the UK are hilly: you may find it difficult to get around on a bike in these areas.

The National Cycle Network is a set of routes in the UK that are suitable for cyclists. For details, see:

Information about cycling in London is available on the website of the London Cycle Campaign: Free maps are available which show cycle routes and gives other useful information for cyclists (these maps can be obtained from bus or tube stations or can be ordered through the above website). You can also plan bike journeys in London using Transport for London's Journey Planner: Note that bicycles cannot be taken on Tube trains in central London

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The word bicycle is often shortened to bike.
A person who rides a bike is called a cyclist.
A person who walks is a pedestrian, and a driver is a motorist.
A cycleway or cycle path is part of a road that cyclists can use safely.

The main parts of a bicycle are shown in the diagram. In addition:

A handbell (or bell) can be used to attract the attention of drivers.
A dynamo, front light and back light may be needed.
A strong bicycle lock may stop someone from stealing your bike.

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To find local bicycle shops, visit: Enter your postcode. Choose the category Shopping then Sports goods then Cycle shops or Cycle accessories. The shops which are nearest are listed first.

Alternatively, use Yellow Pages at Search for cycle shops or cycle hire located in your town (or enter the first half of your postcode).

As well as selling new bicycles, some shops will sell or hire second-hand bicycles. You may be able to buy a second-hand bike by checking advertisements in local newspapers or by using a message board on the internet or in your school (students who are about to leave may want to sell their bikes). Do not buy a bicycle which you think may have been stolen. Check carefully that a bike's brakes and tyres are safe before starting to ride it.

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Local British people often complain about the way foreign students ride bicycles. There are also many accidents involving cyclists. Here are some tips for cycling in a safe and responsible way:

- You do not have to wear a cycle helmet, but it can help to protect your head if you have a road accident. To be effective, helmets must be fitted properly, so ask for advice. Do not listen to music while you are cycling.
- In slow-moving traffic on narrow roads (for example in a town centre) it may be safer to cycle in the middle of the road lane, to prevent drivers from overtaking you when there isn't enough room to do this safely.
- In fast-moving traffic on wider roads (for example outside of a town centre) cycle on the left side of the road but keep a safe distance away from the edge (the kerb or pavement).
- Always indicate using hand signals before you turn or before you move out into the middle of the road.
- Try to keep a safe distance from large vehicles: remember that it is possible that the driver cannot see you when turning.
- Do not ride on pavements. You are not allowed to cycle in pedestrian areas or on motorways.
- Do not carry another person (a passenger) on your bicycle.
- Do not ride side-by-side with another cyclist when there is traffic behind you.
- Do not ride through red lights. Make sure that you understand the meanings of road signs and respect these rules (for example: do not ride the wrong way down a one-way street).
- Do not ride without front and back lights and a rear reflector when it is dark. You may want to wear some special clothes to make sure than you can be seen (reflective or fluorescent clothing).
- Do not lean your bicycle against a shop window (it may scratch the glass) or in a place which blocks the pavement.
- Look on the website of your local government (council or borough) for information about road safety training. There is usually a Road Safety Officer who is responsible for this.

Cyclecraft: The Complete Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Cycling for Adults and Children
Author: John Franklin
Publisher: Publisher: Stationery Office Books
Date: April 2007

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Many bicycles are stolen. Buy a strong lock and attach the bicycle's frame and both wheels to an object which cannot be moved (ideally to a proper bicycle stand if there is one).

You may want to take out insurance in case your bicycle is stolen. This is not usually included as part of your travel insurance or room contents insurance.

To find out what to do if your bicycle has been stolen, see: Personal/Safety.

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Keep safe in the UK: Personal/Safety
Transport: Travel/Transport

Home page: Home

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