Cycling Tips

Get empowered with knowledge that 99% of people do not know. Regain Control of your life!

1. Discover safer, healthy backstreet short-cuts to avoid main road toxic exhaust (Google maps “by pushbike” sends you the wrong way on long, busy main roads).  Skill up:  safer pushbike positioning in road lanes, cycling skills, and to assume no car driver has seen you whilst cycling.  Petition for cycle Safe Network at

2. Never ride on the road where an opening car door would hit you (confusing bike pictures on roads dangerously brain wash people to ride too close to parked cars). Learn better lane position and road rules. Even UoN website agrees.  Pass pedestrians slowly and with 1 metre or more clearance.
3. Most shiny (newish looking) bikes get stolen from homes, or when dark.  Lock up inside with D-Locks.  Report thefts to police 131444. At Uni lock your bike in a Bike Hub, just search for End of trip facilities on UoN website
4. All Newcastle Cars tailgate other cars dangerously (should leave a safe 3 second gap to car in front, but most leave a dangerous 1 second gap. The police will soon enforce this to reduce the road death toll).  Discover greater safety with better cycling skills below. Form good habits with appropriate use of technology and don’t create danger by driving cars.  Urban sprawl is making broadband, homes, food & other infrustructure too costly. Bust the transport myths that 99% of people are confused about:
5. Put your seat higher for easier cycling, and less knees hurting.  You should not be able to touch the ground with your feet when you are on your seat (if you want: have tippie toes touching ground if you think you will crash and fall).  Also less standing out of seat is safer. Learn more skills like hopping forwards off the bike when you stop and don’t press front brakes hard when turning.

LEARN more stuff that could save your life!  A more comprehensive list of safe cycling follows:

*** Safe Cycling tips AND Solving all your Cycling complaints (from The Bike Love Corral)***

There is a solution to all the common cycling complaints, and we’d love to solve each, one at a time. Safety, sweaty, hot/cold, knees hurting, etc.
Learn to solve problems so you can be happy!:
If you get annoyed with cars or car doors opening in front of you and are not enjoying your ride, then you ain’t riding correctly, or safely
Don’t ride too close to parked cars:
• You may collide with a car door opening OR You may swerve to avoid a car door and get hit by traffic coming up behind you.
• Always allow room to avoid an opening door. Don’t bother slowing or looking for people in cars (unseen kids open doors all the time)
Use designated bike lanes unless impractical or unsafe.
• Road rules require cyclists to use signposted bike lanes when provided.
• Bike pictures painted on the road accompanied with a “bike lane” signpost are intended to designate a bike lane but poor design or bad parking may mean that it is safer, and legal, not to ride in these lanes.
• Many bike pictures painted on Newcastle ’s roads are unsignposted and Road Rules 153, 144 & 247 advise not to ride in them because they are not proper bike lanes. Bike pictures on the road positioned where a parked car door opens is a very dangerous place to ride because of crashing into opening doors. These archaic lanes have to go, and hopefully this is only a temporary Newcastle strategy.
Be predictable.
• Travel in a relatively straight line – position yourself to avoid parked cars or other obstacles well in advance so that you don’t weave in and out or swerve at the last moment.
Maintain the safest lane position.
• If the road is wide enough, keep left to allow motor vehicles to pass you safely.
• If the road is not wide enough to allow motor vehicles to pass you safely, either stop and pull over to allow vehicles to pass or, when no vehicles are approaching from behind, signal, then occupy the centre of the lane to prevent vehicles from attempting to pass you.
• At roundabouts – keep left and give way to vehicles that want to cross in front of you to exit, or occupy the lane and negotiate the roundabout in the same way a motor vehicle would.
• Inexperienced cyclists often “hug the curb” and wonder why cars pass so close. Experienced cyclists let traffic pass when they can but occupy the lane when needed for safety. Occupying the lane by a single rider, or two riders abreast, is legal but preventing drivers from passing can cause aggravation, so be considerate and move left to let motorists pass as soon as it is safe to do so.
Maintaining your bike for safer cycling ***
Bikes not maintained well cause many crashes to cyclists. If you are not sure you can check your bike for safety then get the Bike Love Corral to give it a free safety check!
• Wheels and seat on tight, handlebars steering correctly and brakes work.
• When not riding keep your bike covered, inside or in a shed to stop rust.
• When riding try not to hit potholes, or drop off gutters to save denting wheels
• Keep tyres inflated hard to PSI written on side of tyre (30% lower for old tyres), check for tyre wear
• Quick release levers are levered over into the “closed” position. Just don’t screw these up. This stops front wheels coming loose.
• Oil the chain with a little vegetable oil. Oil cables with synthetic oil. Never use WD40 as it wears out your bike (and it is toxic)
• Fix any wobbles in wheels, pedals, cranks, steering before they get worse
• Choose correct gears for longer lasting parts. (Eg. Match slow gears front and back, match high speed gears, etc.)
• Seat and Handlebar heights so the safety limit marks are hidden in the frame.   If your knees hurt, put your seat up higher.  Also less standing up “out of saddle” is safer.

• bell or horn is working.
• if riding in poor light – a clean reflector and flashing or steady red light at the rear of the bike and a flashing or steady white light at the front.
• Make sure nothing can catch in the front wheel, especially items falling out of a front basket, or being carried , such as a beach towel.

Be seen.
• Wear bright coloured clothes or a high visibility vest with reflective strips.
• Flags and wide mounted reflectors can help motorists see you.
• Rear reflectors/lights are seen first by approaching motorists. But the reflectors on pedals at night are what first tell motorists they are approaching a cyclist.
Personal protection.
• Wearing an approved helmet is required by law and may offer some protection in some accidents.
• Glasses can protect your eyes from wind, rain, dirt and bugs. Tinted glasses can protect your eyes from glare.
Always keep a safety gap in front of you of 3 seconds day or night so you do not crash into a person walking (possibly killing them.  Heavier cargo or electric assist bikes can be more dangerous at speed.  Do not get brain washed into rushing around quickly (not adhereing to 3 second safety gaps),  not good in the long run)
Walkers do not usually have lights, so if you are cycling into darkness you will hit anything that is in front of you if you are going too fast. Do not complain that “walkers should have lights”, and if you hit them “It’s not my fault”. You are making up your own shared path rules because it is always up to the more dangerous vehicle to not put slower vehicles in danger. No one wants to kill another person through abiding by a “made up shared path rule”
• When not bright and sunny (night time, or heavy rain, etc) ride to the conditions and slow down so you can safely see far enough ahead of you. Comparing lights of cars and pushbikes: High beam of cars need to at least safely see 100m ahead (to keep a 3 second safety gap in front of you while driving at 100km/hr). But for slower speeds you do not need as powerful lights to safely keep the safety gap in front of you. Similar to the 3 second safety gap for any vehicles following another vehicle. Example for pushbikes: you need 30 metres safety gap in front of you when travelling at 30km/hr. But pushbikes are capable of going 80km/hr down steep hills. Some prices for high quality front lights for 80m seeing distance is over $300. Some people choose to ride on well lit streets, so your front light does not need to light up much of the road in front. If you are in unlit places you will need more powerful lights. As usual the safety choice is yours. Choose your own lane position, choose your own lights!
Heads up.
• If you don’t need to ride in a racing position, consider setting up your bike so you can ride in a more upright position making it easier see the road ahead or look over your shoulder.
Manage poor road conditions.
• Watch out for grates, potholes, stones and kerbs that can stop you in your tracks.
• Ridges, grooves or cracks in the road surface can cause “tram-lining” forcing your front wheel to track along the fault in the road.
• Oil, water or sand can cause sliding.
• Painted surfaces can be exceptionally slippery.
• In wet weather conditions regularly “touch” your brakes to help keep them dry and working well when needed.
Plan your ride. The shortest route may not be the best.
• Choose a route with safe cycle paths where possible.
• Avoid roads with fast moving motor vehicles, inadequate space for bikes and poor road surfaces.
Use a hook turn to turn right at a busy intersection.
• A hook turn avoids sitting in the centre lane while waiting to turn right and avoids having to turn right in front of oncoming traffic.
• To perform a hook turn, pull over to the left when entering the intersection, joining traffic approaching from the side street. Proceed through the intersection (to the street that was to your right) when safe to do so.
Avoid blind spots.
• You may not be visible in the rear view mirrors of a motor vehicle ahead of you so be prepared for it to turn in front of you to park or turn left.
• A motor vehicle immediately behind you can probably see you. But a second vehicle immediately behind it may not be able to see you. As the first vehicle passes you the second vehicle may approach without realising you are there. Make sure you have adequate room to move left as the second vehicle approaches.
• Vehicles entering from side streets may be unable to see you because they are looking for larger vehicles or if a vehicle is passing you.
Ride defensively.
• Being in the right is little comfort if you are hit by a car.
• Assume that you are invisible until a driver’s action show that they have seen you.
• Assume that a motor vehicle will not give you adequate space or recognise your right of way until the vehicle shows that it is taking action to avoid you.
• Always have a Plan B – go slow enough to stop in an emergency or make sure you leave space to steer out of trouble.
• Defensive riding becomes second nature once you practice it for a while.
If you do crash: wash grazes/cuts well with soap and water (it will hurt more than the crash).  Use antiseptic cream/fluid on the wound.  Do not rely on the alcohol wipes in 1st aid kits to clean wounds (they are only to “wash” hands with, and they are not antiseptic).  And seek professional medical help.
Give way to pedestrians.
• Cyclists must follow the same road rules as motorists. There are a small number of exceptions and some additional rules for cyclists.
• It is illegal for cyclists to ride on footpaths unless younger than 12 or accompanying a child younger than 12.
• If you must travel along a footpath, dismount and walk your bike.

• On shared cycle paths use your bell to warn pedestrians when approaching and slow down when passing. Show pedestrians the same courtesy we would like car drivers to show cyclists. Shared path courtesy is also on-road courtesy

• Walk to the left of centre line (like cyclists do on roads)
• Cyclists overtaking people should change lanes and give 1m room (like cars should overtake cyclists on roads)
Practise emergency braking and steering.
• Take note of which brake is for the front and back wheels. In Australia the left hand should operate the rear brake.
• Learn the limits of braking. Applying the rear wheel brake too hard may cause it to lock and skid. Some fish-tailing may occur but the bike will still be controllable. Applying the front brake too hard could cause the rider to go over the handle bars. Keep your weight low and to the back to minimise this chance. Locking the front wheel can be catastrophic as steering is lost and the front wheel will often skid out from under you. The front tyre’s tread pattern helps with braking and water dispersion. Look for the direction arrow on the sidewall or the tread has an arrow formation pointing forward when looking down at it when you are riding your bike.
• Careful application of both brakes, without skidding, provides greatest stopping power.
• Find a safe place to practice braking hard while steering straight, left or right.
Learn from experienced cyclists.
• Ride with a buddy or join a Critical Mass group ride – talk about and practice safe cycling techniques.
Build respect and tolerance.
• Cyclists and motor vehicles are often forced to share roads that weren’t designed to be shared. Responding to an aggressive motorist with aggression is likely to make them more aggressive to all cyclists – so just let it go. Avoid conflict and save your energy for campaigning for better cycling infrastructure
LEARNING To RIDE for 2 yr olds to 90 yr olds
•    Society has progressed away from training wheels!  Best way for all types of people to learn how to ride a bike is to get on grass and lower the seat so you can scoot with your feet on the ground (take the pedals off if necessary).  Learn how to stop the bike with the handbrake/s.  Start confidence of being in control and knowing you can stop with handbrakes and put feet down at any time.  Then scoot along with your feet and use your brakes.  Then lift up your feet for 2 seconds to learn balance/steering.  Then lift up feet and roll for longer times until you can balance and steer.  Then start pedaling.  This way coincides with the 2010 start of the popularity of balance bikes for 3-5 yr olds.  The pedaling is learnt last, which is the exact opposite with training wheels on bikes.  With training wheels you don’t learn the balance or steering (leaning) at all.  And then the removal of training wheels needs more learning.  But there are lots of ways to learn how to ride a bike.  The method described here will cater for all types of people with the least amount of crashed/frights.
All excuses can be solved for why you don’t pushbike more (with all the information on the internet there is no excuse for you not to find it)
The only negative to pushbikes is the same as learning to ride for the 1st time, very frightening, but very rewarding when you gain the “1st world skill” of “learning to ride a bike”.  With robot automated cars in the future (invented to mainly save millions of lives from car crashes), the “rite of passage” of learning to “drive a car” will no longer be the modern day “you are now grown up for going out into the world”.   The next “rite of passage” will be learning to ride a pushbike skillfully and safely (seat height / stopping skills / leg rotation speed for faster more efficient riding.  Learning shortcuts, learning the actual safety of cars and lane position).  The RMS (state authority) recommends a 3 second safety gap between a car following another car, but most people leave only 1 to 2 seconds.  This is why many safety conscious people give up on the car because they cannot control the car dangerously following them.  You can gain much more safety and control on a pushbike by learning better skills and back streets.  Pushbike advocates love to help people find better backstreets, and to make submissions many government things because pushbikes are a critical part of a happy and ethical society.