Cycling is a great activity that boosts health, reduces your carbon emissions and gets you out into the Great Outdoors. The only factor that can put a literal damper on your cycling is the weather. So can you ride a bike in winter without risking your safety? While you may enjoy dashing through the snow or dodging icy patches, the truth is that there are some serious risks to cycling in the winter, but with a few of these road safety tips for winter cyclists, you can still enjoy a cold-weather ride. Here’s how to stay safe when cycling in winter.
What Should I Wear Cycling in Cold Weather?
At Protected Species, we know a thing or two about clothing to help you face the elements. After all, we designed a windproof, waterproof winter parka made from cosy anti-pill fleece especially for these chilly winter months. But aside from a proper lightweight parka to help you stay dry and warm, you’re going to need to think about the rest of you.
Goggles or sunglasses are essential in the winter to help you maintain proper visibility no matter what the weather. You may also want to consider a balaclava or skull cap under your helmet to protect your face, ears and neck from the elements. Also, ensure that the clothing you wear is highly visible to others on the road and that you have lights on both the front and back of your bike. Shorter winter days can make visibility challenging, so make sure you’re visible to everyone around in order to stay safe.
Layers are also a good idea. Cycling is a physical activity, after all, and being able to take off and add on layers is essential to regulating your temperature once your body heat rises. A base layer made from a synthetic fabric that will wick moisture away from your skin is essential, followed by layers that can help capture body heat, such as wool. And don’t forget the extra socks or gloves on those blustery days!
Is It Safe to Ride a Bike in Winter? If You Plan Ahead!
Many cycle routes are at their most beautiful in the winter months. Plan where you’re going to go ahead of time and consider the weather when making your plans. If you can pick a route that’s well-travelled, chances are you can benefit from the trails made by others, no matter the weather. Don’t venture too far out in nature when the weather is bad. You need to remain within safe walking distance of help if something happens when you’re out riding in winter weather.
As always, let someone know where you’re going to be when you do head out. Make sure you have a phone on you too, so you can reach someone should you run into some sort of trouble (or if you get too tired and need to call a taxi!).
How to Stay Safe When Cycling in Winter
There are fewer cyclists on the roads in the winter months, so motorists may not be as aware of cyclists during this time. Keep an eye on cars when travelling down busy streets to make sure they see you.
Also, remember to adapt your riding for winter weather. When the roads are slippery, you’ll want to limit any erratic or sudden movements on your bike. Adjust your braking to take into account any snow, ice or rain on the roads and ride slower than you normally would. As always, use hand signals when changing lanes or turning in order to ensure you’re sharing the road safely with others.
Keep Your Equipment In Good Shape
Your bike needs to be in tip-top shape for winter riding, which is why it’s important to store and care for it correctly. You should keep your bike cold and store it in the garage or garden shed. If your bike is warm when you take it to the streets, then it will melt snow. When the bike inevitably gets cold again, your brakes and tyres can ice up, creating a hazard for you. A bike that is stored outside and already cold won’t allow that to happen.
You may also want to consider putting fatter tyres on your bike in the winter. A wider tire will ensure you can safely pass over packed or fresh snow. If you can find some carbide-studded tyres, that’s another winning option to help your bike handle better under winter road conditions.
Don’t let dreary winter weather keep you indoors. You can enjoy your bike all year long as long as you know what extra precautions to take. So go ahead – follow our road safety tips for winter cyclists and get out to explore this winter, even on the coldest days!