Cycling is one of the most popular methods of transport for students across the UK. Not only is it cheaper than the cost of purchasing and running a car, but it’s also a great alternative to a gym membership, and, thanks to all of Bournemouth’s cycle paths and bike lanes, it’s often actually quicker than driving or hopping on the bus. Plus it’s, y’know, far better for the environment than all those fossil fuel furnaces hurtling about the place.
Whether you’re taking up cycling because you’re a green bean, or simply because you think it looks like a fun way to keep fit, we’ve got you covered in this handy dandy article.
Where is the best place to get a bike?
The first step to actually cycling to uni is getting your hands on your own bike.
If you haven’t commuted by bike before then it’s best to go for a second-hand one first, that way you can decide for yourself whether it’s something you want to spend more money on at a later date.
Second-hand bikes are constantly available via sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, and they’re probably the best places for students to get a good deal on two-wheeled transport. We wouldn’t be your friendly caring SU if we didn’t advise you to take a friend with you if you’re buying a bike off a stranger from the internet, and make sure you don’t pay until you’ve actually received your goods.
We’ve got a good relationship with the lovely folks at Hope2Cycle. They offer great quality second-hand bikes, and have servicing and repairs deals especially for AUB students. They also run a bike loaning service for students, which costs just £40 to loan a bike for the academic year.
What is the best type of bike to get?
Ultimately it’s all down to personal preference. Some people prefer faster, lightweight bikes such as road or fixed/single speed bikes, whilst others prefer something a bit more sturdy such as mountain bikes, or something that’s better suited to carrying your things in a basket on the front or back of your bike, like a town bike. It’s important to take into account the local area that you will be cycling in as that can impact your bike choice. Bournemouth can be quite hilly, especially if you’re doing the Lansdowne to campus route, so picking a light bike that you can cycle with ease up a hill while carrying all your stuff is key.
What other bits will I need to buy?
A good helmet, a good bike lock, and some lights should be the first items on your shopping list of cycling accessories.
If you’re going to be cycling on the roads consider spending a bit more on a good quality helmet as road and weather conditions, combined with other vehicles and road users, can make commuting unpredictable. Bike helmets are pretty ugly looking, we’ll admit, but they can be the difference between leaving an accident with a small scratch or leaving an accident with life changing injuries.
Make sure your helmet is the correct size for your head, and preferably carries a European CE EN1078 standard sticker/certification to ensure your head gets the best possible protection in the case of an accident.
A solid D-lock is the most secure style of lock, and they are usually much harder to cut than cable locks. Generally speaking, though, bike locks are priced depending on their level of security, so the more money you spend on your lock, the more secure your bike will be.
Lights ensure you are visible to other road users, and it’s actually against the law here in the UK to cycle at night without a white front light and a red rear light on your bike. Bike light sets can be bought for as little as £5, but again, the more you spend, the better quality your lights will be and the more visible you will be when out cycling. If you are cycling at night it is also important to ensure you are wearing visible clothing - even if you have lights on - as cycling in all dark clothing makes it harder for motorists to spot you at night.
Will my bike be secure when I leave it at home or at uni?
There are covered bike racks on campus with space for 185+ bikes, and most of the racks are covered by the university’s CCTV.
When you’re leaving your bike at your student house, try not to leave it in plain sight or somewhere where it could be easily stolen. Consider bringing your bike inside to keep in your porch/hallway (though bear in mind some landlords regard this as blocking fire exits), or if you have to keep it outside make sure it is locked to something secure.
Our good pals in the Universities Neighbourhood Policing Team also make regular trips to campus to property mark your bikes for free, which can help prevent against theft, and make it easier for the police to return your bike to you in the event it is stolen. Their next drop-in at AUB is on 22 January, so if you want your bike tagged then make sure you bring it to campus with you on that day.
Is there anywhere I can freshen up after a sweaty cycle in to uni?
Yes! Shower and changing room facilities can be found in the Students’ Union building – there are two showers on the first floor and an accessible shower on the ground floor just near Student Services. You’ll need to bring in your own towels and shower wash, though.
How do I look after my bike?
AUBSU have installed an on-site bike repair station next to the bike racks near Textiles/Fine Art, which contains most of the tools you’ll need for most basic bike repairs/maintenance, as well as a pump for those inevitable flat tyres.
Keeping your bike clean and your chains nicely oiled is really the bare minimum you need to do to keep your bike in good running order. Most bike shops offer repairs and servicing at reasonable prices, and the Hope2Cycle team even offer a cycle maintenance course for those who want to take their cycling a little more seriously.