Bicycle commuting in the winter can be a challenge. Cold weather and wintry precipitation can create potentially hazardous conditions. But there are many benefits to bicycle commuting and winter cycling in general. Riding your bike CAN be a year-long activity!
Bicycle commuting improves your overall fitness level and allows you to exercise during your commute to and from work. And exercising in cold weather has been shown to improve your endurance. Also, you won’t have to carve out time to go to the gym, because you will already be getting ample exercise five days a week! In addition, you will save money and help protect the environment. There are many reasons to bike to work, and more and more people are choosing a bike commute each day, even in the winter.
Here’s some tips to follow as you begin winter bicycle commuting:
1. Invest in the appropriate gear. Layers are essential for cycling in cold weather months. You will perspire far less in the cold weather, but you will need to have layers you can add or shed, depending on the temperature. If you ride to work in your business attire, consider wearing long underwear underneath. You can remove it during the day if you become warm, but it will help prevent you from getting too cold when you ride. Also, invest in a good jacket that keeps you warm and protects you from the wind.
2. Check out Bar Mitts Cold Weather Handlebar Mittens. These mittens remain attached to the bars, protecting your hands from the cold. You can wear a thin pair of gloves and still have ample dexterity to manage control of your bike. These are a great way to keep your hands cold while still allowing you full function of your hands. A pair of ski goggles can also be helpful.
3. Add a pair of road booties like Mavic’s Toe Warmers to your gear. They are waterproof, breathable, and keep your toes from going numb in the cold. No more worries about painful, frigid toes or wetness seeping through.
4. Remember to keep an extra layer or two on hand at work. Weather forecasts can be wrong – and it’s always good to have an extra layer or two on hand for when especially cold weather strikes.
5. Beware of black ice. It’s difficult to see until you are upon it, and can make controlling your bicycle impossible. Black ice forms in areas where water drains, like around gutters, puddles, and overpasses. Avoid these areas and try to venture away from the curb to wear other vehicles have traveled and warmed the roads. Remember that icy roads are treacherous for motorists and cyclists alike and exercise extra caution.
6. Reduce your tire pressure. When it’s wet, snowy, or icy, it’s best to reduce your tire pressure. This will increase contact with the road and provide greater stability. You may also want to invest in a pair of winter studded tires which will provide extra traction.
7. Keep your bike clean. Road chemicals and salts are great at melting snow and ice, but they can quickly cause corrosion. Wash your bike regularly and if possible rinse it after each ride. You can even purchase a neutralizing agent that you can mix with water to fight corrosion. If you have any scratches or nicks, repair them so that the exposed metal doesn’t corrode.
8. Arrange for backup transportation. Most strong cyclists can handle snowy weather conditions, but sometimes snow is heavier than expected or temperatures can decrease on a rainy day resulting in ice. Never ride in conditions that are beyond your abilities. Make arrangements in advance for an alternative way to get home.
Winter road conditions can be dangerous, and storms and bad weather can develop during the day, sometimes with little notice. It is good to have an alternative way home, if you need it, as well as a place to keep your bike safely.
Thousands of people commute by bicycle all year long – but the road conditions in the winter can be especially treacherous. Be vigilant of others on the road and ride defensively to avoid road hazards. No matter how safe you are, however, bicycle crash injuries do occur. If you have been hurt in a bike crash, contact Kass & Moses right away. One of our attorneys will speak with you about your situation and will fight to get you compensation and get you back on your bike.