‘The fresh air makes me feel energised’: Why Phion loves cycling at uni
As long as your new city isn’t very hilly, cycling is definitely the best way to get around at uni. You can get from A to B so much quicker than walking or waiting for the bus. For instance, it only takes me 10 minutes to get to uni and five to get home (it's downhill on the way back and I also take a shortcut through the woods). Or, when you just need to get some milk for tea on a weekend, you can quickly get to Tesco and be back in no time.
Or when you need to go to the library over the weekend and there’s only one bus every hour, you can cycle there whenever you like.
Cheap, relaxing, energetic, clean: Why I cycle at uni
Cycling saves you money on buses and ubers. It’s also a great way to explore the city and the hidden gems because you are in charge, you can stop wherever and whenever you like, and the hidden gems are usually in the corners where public transport can’t reach. If you live in a coastal city, it’s also a lovely bonus to cycle on the promenade!
I also carry my bike with me when I travel to cities nearby by train, because I'm so used to cycling and love to stay as close to zero emissions as possible to help the environment. Not to mention, a lot of cities in England are quite cycle-friendly too.
You can cycle for relaxation and fitness too. I always ride my bike when I’m tired or stressed, even if it’s only to the playing field three blocks away from my house. The fresh air makes me feel energised and less stressed almost instantly. And if you’re like me and not much of a gymgoer, cycling every day will keep you fit and save you money on a gym membership you’re not using.
Should you bring your bike with you?
If you have a bike at home and there’s space in the car, just bring it along when you move to uni. If you’re moving by train, most train companies have bike reservations you can book in advance.
And if you can’t take yours with you or you’d rather leave it at home for your trips back, you can pick one up through the Bike Project.
The Bike Project is a charity that refurbishes old bikes to sell, with all proceeds helping to get refugees cycling. Use UNITE10 at checkout to take advantage of our exclusive 10% discount.
How to stay safe on your bike
Remember, safety first. You should choose the right size and type of bicycle for comfort, have front and red rear lights installed and turned on when you’re cycling. Before each journey, check the tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, and that all gears are working correctly, especially the brakes. I’d also recommend to fit a bell to your cycle.
Avoid going too fast when you cycle down a subway because let's be real, those subway mirrors are always broken/gone. I almost ran over a dog one time, thank goodness I had brakes on.
Most importantly, make sure you feel confident in your ability to ride safely on the road. Wear a helmet and use the cycle lanes whenever possible, and always indicate with your arm before making a turn.
How to keep your bike secure
Lock it or lose it! Definitely use a D-lock on both the frame and wheel of your bike, use two if possible. Speaking from experience, I’d recommend keeping your bike in your house. Initially, I bought a new sports bike which was just under £200 when I first arrived because I wanted to take my bike with me when I go hiking.
But it was nicked from my front yard within two weeks! Sadly, as I didn't register that bike, I couldn't really trace it in the secondhand market. After that, I obviously went for a second-hand bike because I didn't want to risk losing a new bike again (also had no money at the time).
Join BikeRegister, the national cycle database, to mark your bike’s components with unique coded permanent colourless UV microdots and protect it from theft. Registration is free and takes place in many universities during the first month of term.
You can also use their BikeChecker, a free service for people purchasing second-hand bikes that allows you to check that the bike is not listed as stolen.