While cycling is undoubtedly more common at other points in the year, it is possible to cycle during the winter as well. In fact, roughly 30 to 40 percent of Canadian cyclists will bike the entire year-round.
However, cycling during the winter can be dangerous because of the increase in hazards—from shorter days to snow, to ice, to unawareness from other drivers. If you plan to do some cycling this winter, you should use the following tips to help keep you safe.
- Use Lights and Reflective Clothing
It gets dark faster in the winter, and blowing snow can make visibility a challenge. You should use reflective gear on both your body and your bike. A reflective vest and both taillights and headlights are a good idea. Add any additional gear that will make you more visible on your commute.
- Use the Right Gear
Cycling in the winter requires different gear than cycling any other time of the year. You likely want to switch out your smooth street tires for “knobby” tires. The extra ridges will give you better traction. If you are cycling on an unusually snowy or icy day, using studded tires is a good idea.
- Try a Practice Run
Cycling in the snow or on the ice is simply different from any other surface. It is a good idea to take your bike on a practice run before you try to venture out into traffic or on well-travelled areas. Be sure to not only practice simply moving forward but also braking and turning as well. Remember that even small adjustments on slippery surfaces can be hazardous.
- Consider a Less-Travelled Route
Because biking in the snow has some unique hazards, it may be a good idea to try a less-travelled route for your commute. This may not be the same one you use other times of the year. A course that has fewer hills or you know will be cleared better may be a good idea as well.
- Give Yourself Plenty of Time
It is a good idea to slow down and give yourself extra time to get to your final destination when you are cycling in the snow. Traveling slower will allow you to react better to hazardous conditions. You should also keep in mind that it may take longer for you to stop on wet or snowy surfaces as well.
- Keep on Top of Bike Maintenance
Many avid cyclists will get a “tune-up” once per year. However, if you cycle in the snow, it may be a good idea to conduct regular maintenance more often. The winter months can be hard on your bike, and it is especially important that your bike works properly in the snow. Some cyclists will even use a “beater” bike in the winter months.
- Be Realistic About Your Riding
While you may love biking in the snow, there will be days when it just is not practical. Be cognizant of the weather conditions. If the snow is too high, cycling just will not work. Very low temperatures can also make prolonged exposure to the cold or wind dangerous. You do not have to ride every day; there are other options to get you where you need to go.
Trusted Representation when Accidents Happen
A few precautions can make your winter bicycle ride a safe one, but when accidents occur, the personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have the knowledge and experience to get you the compensation you need and deserve when you are injured. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout British Columbia.