Sub-zero temperatures and snow on the ground shouldn’t stop you from year round cycling if you are prepared for the weather and riding conditions. Here are winter riding tips that will keep you riding safety all winter long:
Clothing and Gear: Eyewear is important; balaclavas with sunglasses or ski goggles will protect your eyes from the weather and help you maintain visibility of your surroundings. If a balaclava isn’t your thing, a tight fitting skull cap can be topped off with a helmet and a gaitor can help protect your neck, ears, and lower half of your face. Choose high visibility clothing, and use both front and back lights on your bike. Shorter daylight hours come with the mix of winter weather conditions and visibility is important for your safety. Don’t forget to dress in multiple layers as well so that you can take off or add back layers as you get warmer or bike longer. A good base layer with a jacket is a smart place to start. Protect your extremities as well by carrying extra gloves and socks to replace ones that may get wet while riding.
Plan Your Route: Think carefully about the best route for the weather. Try to choose a route that follows the snow plow route so you can benefit from the clean up. If possible pick a route that is on a bus route so you have an option if you get too tired or just feel unsafe. Some trains and busses allow bikes and if the weather is just too bad or it’s just not fun to ride, go ahead and hop on. You can also try to choose routes where the heat from traffic previously helped clear streets of snow and ice. It’s best to ride where cars are driven, not near the side of the street which will remain icy & snow covered. Find streets that have enough traffic to clear the snow and ice, but not so much traffic that you feel uncomfortable riding in paths cleared by the cars.
Ride Safe & Smart: With fewer cyclists in the winter months, motorists may be less aware of bikes on the road. Adapt your riding for slippery winter road conditions. Ride predictably and limit any sudden or erratic movements on your part. Ride slower on snowy and icy roads and adjust your braking to be twice the amount of time to come to a stop as you would in the summer. Remember that it will take both you and the motorist longer to stop in these conditions. Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes. If you need to refresh your bike safety knowledge, you can log on to www.bikesafetyquiz.com and learn how to share the roads safely with motorists.
Be safe out there and enjoy the ride!