to the idea of cycling to work.
If you’re reading this it’s probably because you are thinking about cycling to work, or perhaps know someone who might be persuaded.
This site has been put together by people who cycle in and around Edinburgh and are also contributors to the CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum, which started in 2009.
Since then many people have been encouraged to cycle – not just to work. CCE has a reputation for the wide range of people who have joined, and their knowledge – not just bicycle related! – and also for supporting and encouraging others.
“My first work commute was a year ago, pretty much to the day!”
newtoit on CCE more
“if only I’d known how happy it would make me I’d have started years ago!”
Vez on CCE
“Cycling is cheap, healthy and it makes you happy!”
What’s stopping you?
The usual answers include – ‘no bike’, ‘can’t cycle’, ‘hills’, ‘weather’, ‘traffic’, ‘don’t know the way’ ‘might get hot and sweaty’.
It’s clear that many more people are cycling in Edinburgh than 10 years ago, so they have come to terms with those barriers and other things. Why not ask someone you know who cycles? Probably best to ask someone ‘new’. People who have cycled for a long time will have forgotten some of the problems they dealt with.
No bike – DON’T steal one. You might be able to borrow one, several shops will hire you one. A few shops in Edinburgh sell secondhand bikes. A good secondhand one should be better value than a cheap new one. Bikes can be bought on Gumtree and eBay, but unless you know a lot about bikes or have a friend who really knows a lot about bikes, best to buy from somewhere that gives a guarantee and possibility of dealing with problems.
It’s risky spending a lot on a new bike when you don’t really know what sort will suit you or the journeys you intend to make. Some people just cycle to work but many find they cycle for more journeys, leisure trips or even sport once they have got used to regular cycling.
Can’t cycle – then you’re not ready for most of this site BUT it’s never too late to learn. Might take a while until you feel able to tackle traffic, but Edinburgh has plenty of off-road paths. Start in a local park or an empty office car park in the evening or weekends. Contact The Bike Station for advice on training – not just ‘learning to ride’.
I had never had or ridden, let alone sat on a bike in my life. Now there was no excuse, I was going to have to face this one. Beginning to bike at forty, is a scary prospect.
Hills – what goes up must come down. Hills are part of Edinburgh’s charm. If you work, for instance, at the City Chambers or George Square and are not fit it’s unfortunate if you live in Canonmills! BUT plenty of people live around the Meadows and work out west – The Gyle, Edinburgh Park, Heriot Watt etc. – flat enough for the Union Canal to take you most of the way. Most hills just need some gears and a bit of practice/fitness.
There’s no shame in getting off and pushing occasionally (applies to nasty bits of road too – eg roundabouts.)
Weather – this is Edinburgh. But actually, as it’s on the east coast, it doesn’t rain too much, not windy every day, not very windy that often. Seldom very hot, doesn’t snow many days. When the temperature drops below zero main roads, and some cycle paths, are gritted fairly quickly. But ANYWAY no-one says you have to cycle every day and in all weathers.
Some people do cycle under virtually all conditions, but they have usually acquired experience plus suitable equipment and clothing.
Traffic – there’s no point in pretending that dealing with traffic is easy/simple. It probably helps to be able to drive, and have driven in Edinburgh. Most cyclists in Edinburgh can/do drive – but obviously not everyone can, does or wants to. Edinburgh is fortunate to have various off-road paths and quieter roads, so a lot of journeys can be made away from the busiest roads.
Very few drivers actively try to inconvenience or scare cyclists. Some are incompetent others ‘unaware’ – particularly about passing ‘too close’. But there are definitely some who think they have more right to be on the road than you do and must get past. They will waste fuel racing to back of the next queue and you will probably pass them on the way to the front of the queue. This may be repeated – unless of course you turn off onto a ‘no cars’ route!
Don’t know the way – then turn to our routes page.
Might get hot and sweaty – some people cycle to work as fast as possible for fitness/training reasons. They tend to shower and change.
Most people get to work more slowly and try not to raise a sweat.
Beginners may well be unfit and more likely to get hot and, perhaps, sweaty- so get fitter before cycling to work, or take it very easily or expect to need a wash and change of clothes.
There are people on the Experiences page who were probably where you are now.
If you want to know about things not mentioned on this site, add a comment on any page. OR join CCE (no question too simple/difficult) and get various answers!
“I do remember getting off and pushing round a nasty right turn. I carried on doing this every day for months, until I gained the confidence to claim my rightful place on the road.”
Morningsider on CCE