- Take out civil liability insurance
- Keep your bicycle in good condition
- Cycling in the rain
- Cycling uphill
- Choose your bicycle carefully
Remember that a bicycle is also a vehicle and, while it is not compulsory, it is highly recommended that you take out civil liability insurance. You can get more information from bicycle shops, clubs, associations and federations.
Basic maintenance is just as necessary for bicycles as any other vehicle, and we recommend that this is carried out periodically so you can cycle in complete safety. We advise you to:
- Check the tyre pressure.
- Check the steering.
- Check the brakes by applying them and trying to move forwards and backwards. The bike shouldn't wobble nor there any friction. Make sure the pads are not touching the wheel rims.
- There should be no play in the wheel bearings, chain set or the pedals.
- The crank arms must be securely fixed to the bottom bracket.
- Check the screws (seat, packet carrier, water bottle carrier, gears, handlebars, etc.)
- Check the quick-release systems (wheels and seat stem)
- Check the chain is well-oiled and is at the proper tension, etc.
Remember that the inconveniences of bad weather can be considerably reduced by using the right clothing and accessories.
- Cyclists are much less visible in the rain, so you should wear brightly-coloured clothing.
- In theory, a good waterproof jacket should be enough. But there are other items that could also prove very useful for protecting you from the rain, such as hoods (often included with the jacket), waterproof shoes or plastic covers for your shoes.
- Reflective bands that can be sewn onto clothing are also useful and make you more visible to others.
- Remember it is more difficult to manoeuvre you bicycle in the rain, because streets are slippery and it is easier to fall off.
- You must also remember that wet brakes require a longer braking time. One way of drying them is to brake several times in succession.
- Make sure your bike has a mudguard as it will prevent your clothes from getting muddy.
Rain is a nuisance but bear in mind that cycling is much more common in cities where the climate is a lot less favourable. You just need to be prepared and to ride carefully.
80% of Barcelona streets have a gradient of less than 2%, which means you can even ride a bike without gears. But if there is no alternative to an uphill route, we recommend:
- If you need to use the route regularly, look at maps and try to find one which is not as steep, even if this makes the trip longer.
- If you go when there is less traffic, you will be able to climb at your own pace and be more relaxed.
- Get a bike with good gears.
- Get off your bike and walk for a bit if you get too tired. That way you can recover your strength while still heading in the right direction.
Remember that the public transport system can complement your mobility needs in areas that are farther away or more difficult to get to.
Check the Bicycles on public transport section.
Here are different kinds of bikes, some are better than others for city cycling, with advantages and disadvantages. You can use any kind of bike you like, provided it has the minimum requirements and is convenient for getting you round the city. There are:
- Road bikes, which are very quick and light but have slim tyres that are not very safe in the city. However, you can still use one, as long as it is suitably equipped.
- Mountain bikes, which are very strong but not suited to cycling on tarmac. Although they are ideal for complicated descents, they make pedalling harder and are not usually fitted with lights or bag carriers.
- The best option is City bikes, because they are light but also safe and strong. They have the advantage of being fitted with bag carriers, mudguards and lights.
- Folding bikes were specially developed for the city. They are small and light, especially when folded. So they are ideal for short distances of under 10 kilometres, for combining with other means of transport and taking them up to your flat or office, as they take up very little space. You should bear in mind their weight and how easy they are to fold and unfold.
- Electric bicycles (e-bikes or pedal-assisted bikes) have an auxiliary electric motor and can be very practical for people who live in areas with steep gradients, older people and people with reduced mobility. The motor only starts when the cyclist starts pedalling and it provides extra support. The drawback is that they are heavier than normal bikes.
More information on electric bicycles.