Winter is now well underway, but that doesn’t stop avid cyclists from gearing up and hitting the streets. Many New Yorkers continue to train and commute all season long.
If you’re among them, you’re likely familiar with the challenges of winter cycling. Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, it’s important to remember these tips for staying safe during the winter months:
- Dress for the weather: Wear layers, and choose moisture-wicking material that’s not overly bulky but will still keep you dry and warm. In snowy or wet weather, consider using ski goggles to keep your vision clear.
- Go slow: Icy or snowy conditions can make it difficult for you (and the vehicles around you) to safely navigate the pavement. Reducing your speed gives you more time to react. Be especially cautious approaching intersections and making turns.
- Watch for ice: Few things can sideline you for the season faster than an unseen patch of ice. Keep an eye out – especially around metal grates, manhole covers and puddles – and take care to slow down, steer straight and avoid sudden braking.
- Signal your intentions: It’s always important to communicate with traffic around you. When the weather turns iffy, make sure you signal, and never assume that other drivers will see you or heed your right of way.
- Let the air out: Slightly lower tire pressure results in more surface area coming into contact with the road surface, which means greater traction. When temperatures fluctuate, check your pressure regularly, and keep a tire pump handy.
- Clean ‘er up: Snow, slush, ice, salt and other gunk can not only decrease the lifespan of your bike; it can also clog up the mechanics. Set aside more time to regularly clean and maintain your ride during these messy months.
- Lighten up – literally: With the sun rising late and setting early, many winter cyclists end up riding in the dark. Not surprisingly, nearly half of all bicycle accidents during the winter months happen after dark. Make yourself visible to traffic with both active and passive lighting as well as reflective gear.
- Know when to say no: Some days, cycling isn’t worth the risk. Winter storms, blizzards and treacherously icy conditions can make your ride a nightmare. Use your best judgment, and if in doubt, play it safe.
There’s no reason to put your bike away just because the weather isn’t ideal. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and successful winter cycling season.