There are many reasons why cycling is excellent for the environment, our national health and the local economy. However, you need more than words to convince your friends and family that cycling is a great idea!
Here are some top tips:
Draw up a cycling action plan with tasks for everyone. Then during every session of cycling, tick off one task from your cycling action plan by choosing an easy cycling route or deciding on an opportunity to create cycling infrastructure in your area.
Make sure that no-one gets left behind because they feel unsafe when cycling in traffic – especially children. If this happens people will revert back to their motorised transport modes even if they originally promised to cycle. Make cycling easy and safe.
Don’t blame them if they don’t cycle – encourage them . If you make it easy for people to cycle without having to take any short cuts or ‘work arounds’, many more people will start cycling. A good place to start would be bike boxes at all junctions followed by bike lanes in residential areas when traffic volumes reduce sufficiently. Remember that insurance companies recommend cycling off-road until traffic volumes reduce sufficiently . Bike paths are also a great way of increasing the amount of cycling in an area.
Try to write cycling off as a bit of fun if that’s the way your friends or family see cycling . If they think cycling is a bit of fun then it will be easier to get them involved. Start by organising regular social cycling activities with other members of your local cycling community such as guided rides around your town and countryside coupled with local cycle events! These types of activities draw cyclists together; show that cyclists aren’t just weirdos but normal people who enjoy cycling for all sorts of reasons including sport, touring, commuting etc.
Give people cycling gear for their birthday or as a Christmas present; keep cycling gear in your car boot to make it even easier to cycle when you are out and about.
If cycling is dangerous on the road, consider cycling off-road until traffic volumes reduce sufficiently. Remember that cycling infrastructure will never be acceptable if it does not feel safe . In addition, do not expect non-cyclists to know what is best for cycling – plan cycling infrastructure with cyclists in mind . A good place to start would be having bike boxes at all junctions. Put them there now! Top tip: Bike lanes work well too and create space for cycling without the need for cycling infrastructure.
Choose cycling routes with a good cycling environment – away from traffic and pollution, preferably on nice smooth surfaces (cyclists don’t like stony ground or potholes). Choose cycling routes that avoid busy roundabouts as they are usually the most dangerous for cycling but can be easily avoided by choosing quieter roads and cycleways .
If you want to get cycling seriously consider learning how to cycle safely in traffic. It is important to learn how to use your bicycle correctly so you feel confident cycling in all types of traffic situations including multi-lane carriageways, junctions, roundabouts etc. You will also learn about turning left at junctions with left cycling turns, cycling in the gutter and cycling without cycling infrastructure. It will also teach you how to cycle safely on busy roads.
As soon as your family starts cycling with you and your friends to make it easier and more comfortable for them . If they have never before cycled in traffic, cycling off-road is not an option! You need to get a friend or relative cycling with you to act as a ‘bicycle apprentice’ – they are then unlikely to drop out of cycling once everyone else has started cycling regularly around the neighbourhood.
Be careful not to use cycling jargons when talking cycling with your friends and family as this will simply present cycling as inaccessible! You need to make cycling simple and easy for them. There is no point trying to get cycling unless people can see how cycling will work for them – it needs to be convenient, safe, pleasant and affordable.
If cycling is important to you, cycling will be important to your friends and family. This means that cycling must become an intrinsic part of your life – cycling regularly every day for as long as possible. How else can cycling be important if you rarely cycle? Your cycling will inspire others to follow in your footsteps!
People love what they see and do regularly so try not go more than two weeks without cycling even if it’s just a quick dash on the bike or a short trip around the neighbourhood . If commuting by bicycle then cycling needs to become part of your daily routine: get up early, dress up and pack lunch (or eat at work), ride / commute into town saving time & money, get home have supper then… cycling! Stuck in traffic cycling home from work some days? Cycle-commute on the other days.
Remember that cycling is a lifestyle choice; cycling should be something you do all the time because you love to do it. It’s not complicated and your friends and family won’t see cycling as an unattainable goal if cycling seems like fun. So take your cycling seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously – this will make it much more enjoyable for everyone! Know what you like, know what works best for you and only ride bicycles that are suitable for your needs and abilities . If cycling is making you miserable then get out there already anyway!