Winter Is Coming: Top Biking Tips to Keep You Safe
This past weekend was such a delight—the last vestiges of summer were upon us. But the weather has turned, and there’s no hiding from the truth. Winter is coming.
But winter weather doesn’t require you to hang up your bike. Instead, all you need to do is learn a handful of simple tips and tricks to make winter biking work for you.
Biking Tip #1: Wear the Right Gear
It gets cold out there. Dress appropriately to stay warm and dry. From your head to your toes, here’s what you should don before you head out:
- Hat or ski mask that fits under your helmet
- Helmet with visor to protect against the elements and in the event of an accident
- Reflective vest to add an increased level of visibility
- Wind jacket that protects against water and provides for breathability
- Layers for your core and your legs, including a base layer made of wicking material to keep you dry
- Gloves that offer strong gripping ability while keeping your hands warm and dry
- Socks that wick away moisture
- Boots with thick insulation
Biking Tip #2: Prepare Your Bike
Winter biking requires that you choose your bicycle equipment wisely. It is not the time to bring out your top-of-the-line racing bike. Instead, use a sturdy, reliable bicycle that you can outfit with:
- Winter tires, such as mountain bike tires or studded tires, for greater traction
- Front and rear fenders to keep spray from constantly hitting you
- Brighter lights, at least one white light in front and one red in back, due to decreased daylight hours and limited visibility
Many cyclists choose to ride a single-speed bike during the winter months. These often require less maintenance due to fewer moving parts, which is great considering the battering your bike will receive from sand, dirt, salt, ice and snow.
Biking Tip #3: Practice Safe Cycling
Biking in the winter requires you to sharpen your cycling skills. Here are some tips to help keep you safe and bike-accident free:
- Ride defensively: Drivers are less aware of cyclists in poor driving conditions. Assume they are not keeping a look out for you.
- Follow snow plows: Go where the plow goes. Learn which bike paths and roads get cleared faster.
- Account for snow and ice: Snow and ice affect bicycles in the same way they affect motor vehicles. So take turns at a slower speed and give yourself extra braking room. While commuting by bike is often a faster way to get to work on snowy days, you should still give yourself extra time to make it to work safely.
- Ride predictably: This is a good rule of thumb for all seasons. You should always ride in a way that allows motorists and pedestrians to know what you are going to do next. Don’t weave in and out of traffic, and always signal your turns and lane changes.
Biking Tip #4: Know the Law & What to Do in Case of an Accident
Download a copy of our Cyclist Savvy infographic. It has laws related to cycling in Minnesota, as well as steps to follow should you get into an accident. Get the infographic now!
We also have the Accident Tips available on business cards—let us know if you’d like one or several to hand out to your cyclist friends. Just send us an email with your request.
What Winter Biking Tips Do You Have to Share?
Do you bike in the winter? If yes, what are your tried-and-true methods of making the most of your winter cycling? Share your tips with us on our Facebook page!
Photo credit: Snow bike! by williamd, some rights reserved