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Bicycling tips for winter rides

Photo of Christopher Seleski

While most people don’t associate the winter months with bicycling, there are many people who opt to continue riding all year long. Whether you are an enthusiast or a bicycle messenger, you need to ensure that you are remaining safe throughout these cold rides.

There are several hazards that you will face during the winter in New York City that aren’t present during the summer. You must do your best to adjust while continuing to use the normal precautions that are appropriate for nicer riding days.

Stay visible

Many drivers aren’t going to think about bicycle safety when they are on the roads in snowy and icy conditions. You will have to watch closely for them. One area that might be a big problem is when they are parking and getting out of their vehicles. People tend to rush from their vehicle to the building where they are going. Since they aren’t going to think that bicyclists are out riding now, they might door you, which can lead to very serious injuries.

In order to make it easier for motorists to spot you, wear brightly colored clothing that has reflective properties. Add lights to your bicycle that make you more visible. It gets darker in late afternoon as winter sets in since the sun sets earlier.

Try to stay warm

Dress in layers before you leave home. Long-fingered gloves can help to keep your hands warm so that you can safely steer and operate hand brakes if you have these on your bicycle. Consider wearing moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep sweat off your skin since feeling damp will make you chill faster.

You may need to wear two pairs of socks and invest in thermal shoe covers so that your feet don’t get too cold. Leg warmers and clothing that is wind-resistant and waterproof can also help to keep you warm.

Before your ride, drink something warm. You might want to bring a thermal bottle with you that has something warm in it so you can drink it when you stop. This can help you to avoid feeling too cold and will keep your core temperature up.

Have a safety plan

Think about what you can do if you find unsafe conditions on your ride. One component of this is what you will do if you are involved in an accident. Keep your identification and medical insurance card in a spot that is easy to reach so you will have it, if necessary.

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