New year cycling resolutions
By Alison Hill and Jonny Ives
Alison is Chair of Cyclox and Jonny is a Cyclox member
What are your cycling resolutions for the new year? Here are some suggestions to start you off.
Get a bike and take up cycling
If you’ve been thinking about it, give it a go. Ask around and you may well find that someone has a bike they would be happy to lend or give you. Ask your local bike shop for suggestions from their second-hand stock.
If you want some help gaining confidence in cycling, there are various organisations in the city that provide cycle training. Women-only cycle groups Isis and JoyRiders offer rides for beginners. Or ask friends or family members if they will accompany you on your first few rides.
Get a service
If you’ve got a bike, get it serviced. Brakes that work, gears that shift and the joys of a new chain can make a real difference to the joy of riding. And what about changing that saddle to one that is more comfy? You might also want to learn how to service your own bike. Both the Broken Spoke Bike Co-op in Oxford and the Windrush Bike Project in Witney offer bike mechanics courses introducing you to the fundamentals of bike maintenance and repairs: mending punctures, changing inner tubes, cleaning and lubricating, fixing gears and brakes.
Get some kit
When faced with rain the Dutch remind us that “we’re not made of sugar”. Even so, some waterproofs, a decent hat and some thermal gloves make inclement conditions that much more bearable.
One Cyclox member made a new year resolution to get something ultra-reflective to wear at night. She has bought a high-vis vest in cherry red (this season’s colour, and it’s also nice and bright during the day). She’s also ordered some reflective trouser clips which she hopes will work over her coat sleeves.
Find your route
Although cycling infrastructure often leaves a lot to be desired, a bit of research can reveal some useful traffic-free routes for your regular destinations. On the Cyclox website you will find links to a cycle map of Oxford showing low-traffic routes in the city. The map came out of conversations with school children and older cyclists. It shows routes that are car-free, protected or low-traffic, and those that are walking-only where you have to push your bike. You can use it to work out safe-cycling routes to key places in the city, such as schools.
If you live in Oxford, almost anywhere within the ring road is easy to get to on a bike
Swap car miles for cycle miles
Are you thinking about cutting down on your car mileage? If you live in Oxford, almost anywhere within the ring road is easy to get to on a bike. Scrapping your car is a big step but it is doable. There are easy alternatives to driving your own car. We are lucky to have a good bus service within the city and out to neighbouring market towns. For journeys where cycling or public transport aren’t suitable you can join a car club and hire a car near you by the hour. Working out how much car ownership is actually costing you each year can be a real incentive. People who go car-free estimate that they can save £2k and 1.5 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
Add your voice
Campaigns for safer roads and better facilities for cyclists can be arduous but they do bring results. Join Cyclox, engage with your local safer-streets groups and email your local councillors. Your views can make a difference. Broad Street used to be a car park, now it’s a safer, more accessible public space.
Happy New Year and happy cycling!
Main photo: Daisy-Daisy/iStock
Cyclists in Oxford: Tejvan Pettinger