♦ Lights. Lights are a must. They serve two purposes: to help you see the path, and to help
others see you.
♦ At a minimum, have a white blinking light facing forward and red blinking light
facing backward. This ensures you can at least be seen from ahead and behind
♦ Mount your lights at a height where drivers can see you from a far distance
♦ A light mounted to your helmet serves two purposes. It lights up whatever you
look at, and it easily catches the attention of drivers. When you look at their car,
the head lamp lights up the inside of their vehicle. It’s a powerful combination
to have both a head lamp and the strobe.
♦ Lighted and reflective arm and leg bands will help you be seen from the sides.
♦ Helmets. Some winter commuters like using ski helmets, as they provide extra warmth.
♦ Cell phone. It’s always a good idea to carry a cell phone in case you have troubles with
your bike or fall and get hurt.
♦ Sluff. The fresh sluff thrown off from plows is a real problem. It is like riding in quick sand. It is even worse than riding through deep wet snow. It also contains road salt, which is hard on both your bike and your clothing. If an area of your commute still contains sluff two days after the plows are done with the roads, call the appropriate agency and request they plow the area.
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♦ Plan B. You need to be prepared in case unpredictable conditions like sluff or moose make a leg of your commute impassible. You may need to push your bike for a while to get around, or through, an obstacle. It’s great exercise, and if you are riding in what are normally good riding conditions, it is rare. Consider taking bus fare with you, if your commute is near the bus system. Also consider alternate routes, as your normal route may not always be the most favorable one.
♦ Motorists. Generally speaking motorists don’t expect cyclists to be out on sidewalks or roads in wintertime. In order to be safe, you must be visible.
» Remember that motorists often have limited visibility in winter: low‐lying sun in their eyes, ice, frost, or snow may obscure their view.
» Whenever possible, make eye contact with drivers, and never proceed unless you are certain they have seen you (this one, by the way, applies in the summer too).
» Your outer layers should be bright and reflective.
» Please see the section on LIGHTS. They are as necessary as a bike helmet.
♦ Bikes rarely slip when they are going in a straight direction. Take care on corners.
♦ Slow down when you are approaching an area you suspect may be icy. Be prepared to take your foot off if the bike starts to tilt.
♦ Be prepared for bumps and transitions, as they can cause you to loose traction.
♦ When approaching a stopping point that is potentially slick, for example an intersection, take care when putting your foot down. Sometimes while riding it is easy to forget the underlying surface can be slippery.
♦ Keep in mind it’s possible for ice to build up on your breaks, if conditions are wet or slushy. So give yourself plenty of time to stop.
♦ Snow that has been gouged out by pedestrians, cars, or other cyclists can be dangerous. You can get your wheel caught in a rut or awkward hole.
♦ Believe it or not, over dressing is as much (or more) of a problem than under dressing. Keep in mind you are going to be exercising, and creating your own heat. If you are nice and toasty warm when you first start, you are going to be too hot ten minutes later.
♦ The Core. Keep your core warm. Dressing in layers is the key to keeping warm and safe in the winter. You want the layers against your body to wick your sweat to the outside layers. A mid‐layer of light fleece or other insulating layer may be a good idea, and an outer layer that is windproof is always nice.
♦ The extremities. Your feet, hands, and ears will need extra attention.
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» Feet. If you want to go clipless in the winter, I recommend Lake boots, as they are insulated. I also recommend booties over the boots. You can also use large wool socks as booties. It’s warmer to use platform pedals and go with winter or hiking boots. Cleats can also be a problem if you get snow packed in them. Socks do make a difference. I recommend smart wool socks.
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» Hands. Lobster gloves are great. I also recommend windproof over‐mittens, which can be worn over the lobster gloves for really cold weather, or over mid or light weight gloves. If you are concerned about keeping your hands warm, try Pogies (Pogies are the big mittens built into the handle bars). They will definitely keep you warm!
» Ears. There are a lot of options for keeping ears warm. Ear bands, Skull caps, thin ear muffs skiers use…any of these work well.
♦ Make sure your outer layer is reflective, or at the very least, has very bright colors!
♦ You don’t have to buy bike specific winter clothing if you don’t want to. Ski clothing often works very nice as well. Clothing is a personal choice: what works for some people won’t work for everyone. You may need to experiment to see what works the best for you and adjust your layers as the temperatures drop.
♦ You may want to split up your clothing choices into different categories: one group of clothing for temperatures above freezing, mid‐weight clothing for below freezing down to roughly 15 above, and the heavier weight clothes for the colder weather.
♦ If your commute is largely up hill one way, and largely down hill the other way, you may need slightly different layers for each direction.
♦ Some people like to warm up their clothes (or some of their clothes), near a heater or other heat source ahead of time, so that they are still warm a few minutes after going outside.
♦ If you do find your hands or ears getting cold, stop and warm them up by putting them near your core for a few minutes to warm them back up.
♦ You don’t have to ride every day to consider yourself a bike commuter! Even one day a week is an improvement.
♦ You can work up to it: Don’t make your first ride on a day where the snow is fresh and heavy, or when it is exceptionally cold. Go out when you can ride recreationally and get a feel for how the bike handles in the snow, and how your layers feel. Maybe try sliding the bike a bit on purpose to get an idea of how it feels.
♦ It’s OK to “wimp out” on really cold days, or when you are unsure of the conditions. Just remember, 80% of commuting is above the shoulders. It’s not always easy getting in the mindset that you are going to take the bike instead of the car. It’s so easy to make up dozens of excuses as to why you can’t ride in the winter. Just try not to get stuck in the habit of always driving, and perhaps set a goal of trying winter bike at least once a week.
♦ You may be surprised how easy it is, and how much fun you have. One of my personal favorites, are the mornings when there is a lot of frost on the trees, and the trails are nicely fast. Or after work when both the moon and sun are up at the same time, and there is a low fog over the fields.
♦ It’s very rewarding on the first day of spring, when all the other cyclists are getting out for the first time, and you can fly right by them since you have been riding all winter and are in great shape!
The post Winter Riding? Some Tips on staying safe and warm During the Winter. appeared first on Bicycle Accident Lawyers.