How to Be a Cyclist (from Someone Who Keeps Getting It Wrong)

By Oliver Gudgeon | Sunday 11th February, 2018

Choosing the bicycle as your mode of transport is one way of raising your life’s danger and entertainment levels simultaneously. But if you’re more the sensible type, and you’d like your danger and entertainment levels to stay low, fortunately there are things that you can do. The only problem is, not I, nor anyone I seem to be friends with, knows what they are. That being said, here are some things you should consider not doing as a cyclist to at least point you in the right direction.

Don’t get drunk and cycle into a canal on your way home

A friend (who shall remain nameless) once cycled home after a night out and had a sobering fall of three metres into London Fields canal. He spent the next day fishing the bike out the canal with a grappling hook with a hangover. Cycling drunk is obviously one of the most stupid things you could do- EVER- for many obvious reasons. (Well, in fairness, cycling into a canal was a bit of a curveball.)


Don’t jump red lights when the police are right behind you

Well obviously, don’t jump red lights ever... I once watched a cyclist get publicly humiliated by two police officers on motorbikes, who had been next to him at the previous set of red lights when he decided he couldn’t wait any longer. The policemen chased him down, stopped him, and screamed at him next to a bus stop full of people. It was brutal.

Don’t leave your lights on your bike...

...have them nicked, and then get fined by the police on the way home for not having lights. This happened to me and it was just one of those days and that’s all I have to say about it.

Don’t get “FUCK TAXIS” tattooed on your legs

I once saw a cyclist who had “FUCK” tattooed on the back of his left leg and “TAXIS” tattooed on the back of his right. For me, permanently altering my skin to express outrage with other types of road users would be taking things a little too far. Naturally, bad taxi drivers exist. (And hopefully, if this article shows anything, so do bad cyclists.) But please remember, before you go to the tattoo parlour, that it is individuals that make bad drivers, not groups.

Don’t always assume pedestrians have seen you

Don’t always trust pedestrians not to run out into the road without looking. On numerous occasions, I have had to perform my well-practised swerve. Sometimes it is simply reckless pedestrians who lack time that run out without looking. Other times, it is daydreaming pedestrians who have seen other pedestrians are crossing and assumed they can too. They can't.

A friend of mine had a collision with a pedestrian recently and the two came away with bad bruises. But this pedestrian does not fit either of the types of pedestrian mentioned above - this pedestrian had just stolen from a shop and he was making a getaway. Needless to say, he still should have looked before crossing.


Don’t leave your key in your lock...

...with your lock around your bike. It was by some miracle that one friend managed to keep her bike having left the key in the lock for three hours while her bike was parked in a town centre. Still, it’s not something she’s decided to do again.

Don’t lock your bike around a stranger’s bike

A mate in uni once locked their bike around a lamppost and a stranger’s bike and went to work at a bike shop. A few hours into her shift, a man came in asking if the shop had bolt cutters because some idiot had locked their bike lock around his bike outside. My friend went with the man outside to see what the problem was and if there was anything she could do with the tools available to her at the bike shop. It turned out to be quite an embarrassing moment.