Get in the saddle: advice and support to get cycling in Oxfordshire
Fun and exercise for all the family, an affordable long-term alternative to short car journeys or a good way to socially distance on the way to work -- there has never been a better time to get on your bike.
Many people are getting back in the saddle to exercise during lockdown, and as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, cycling will play a vital role in how thousands of people get to work every day.
Whether you've never ridden a bike in your life, are just starting out or want to find out more about what's available locally, we've put together this guide to help you get started with your cycling journey in Oxfordshire:
I’m just getting started
It can be difficult to know where to begin if you are considering cycling for the first time. Cycling UK has plenty of excellent information and resources on cycling tips for beginners, bike sizing guides and so much more.
I don’t have a bike
Oxfordshire has a plenty of options, including a variety independent bike shops as well as the national chains, and a thriving second-hand bike market to consider. Bike charities and co-operatives like Oxford's Broken Spoke Bike Co-op, Witney's Windrush Bike Project and Bicester Green are also a great way to buy a safety-checked second-hand bike while supporting a local good cause. If you live in Oxford, DailyInfo has a list of the city's numerous bike shops and second-hand bikes.
And don't forget keeping that bike safe, with locks or the bike register. Thames Valley Police has more ideas here.
If you do decide to buy second-hand, try this handy guide from Cycling UK
If you aren't ready to buy yet then, some cycle shops will offer a hire service, or if you are in Oxford, then there are other options to reserve and pay via an app on your smartphone including
I don’t know how to ride a bike
Anyone, whatever their age, can learn to ride a bike. If you've never learnt to ride or haven't ridden for decades, don't worry – this guide from Cycling UK contains lots of helpful information and a video to get you started.
If you've learnt to ride a bike recently, we'd love to hear your experience to inspire others to get started. Please visit Go Active's Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org to keep the conversation going.
I don’t know how to maintain a bike
Understanding how to look after your bike and deal with everyday issues that could happen when you are out and about helps to make sure that you can enjoy cycling safely. The first thing you can do is learn the simple 'M' check that makes sure your roadworthy. British Cycling has a load of great guides on how to get started and more general maintenance.
How do I find my way around?
What's the quickest route? What's the safest route? These questions can be daunting for even the most experienced cyclist. Luckily, there are many good route finders out there. One such website cycle.travel is designed here in Oxfordshire with the motto "life's too short to ride busy roads", focuses on finding the best route prioritising quieter roads and cycleways.
If you're in Oxford, then this map outlines the principal "quiet routes" and where you can find cycle parking in the city.
If you'd like to make a comparison route then other finders such as those from Cycling UK or Komoot have their different pros and cons, while apps like Strava allow you to choose routes based on popularity.
What else can help me locally?
Oxfordshire has a fantastic network of cycling organisations, clubs and movements, you can find your local one through Cycling UK Oxfordshire
For those in Oxford, there is also Cyclox, whose aim is to "is to get more people cycling, more often, and more safely."
Wheels for All provide inclusive cycling sessions in a safe supportive environment. Find out more about their sessions here.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a cyclist?
Cyclox produces out a handy short guide to this, which can be found here
We hope that this guide helps you get started with your cycling journey. We know that different people can feel uncertain about cycling for a wide variety of completely different reasons, if something is stopping you, and you don't think its addressed here, please let us know and we'll try to update things!
Enjoy getting back in the saddle and please stay in touch and let us how you're getting on!
Images from Department of Health/Make Sport Fun