Safe Routes Scoop

Biking Safely in Winter

long, dangling items, like scarves, should be avoided or properly secured to prevent possible entanglement in the wheels or other moving parts of the bike.

 

Be Aware of Seasonal Hazards
Along with colder temperatures, winter also means contending with shorter days. While it is preferable to ride during hours of daylight, with longer periods of darkness riders may find themselves riding at night more often. Proper lighting is critical for safe cycling. New Jersey law requires that in addition to any bike reflectors, bicycles must be equipped with a front headlamp and a rear lamp for riding at night. For more in-depth information about lights and safe cycling at night, see our previous article, “Walking and Biking at Night,” at: http://policy.rutgers.edu/
VTC/bikeped/Walks_and_Bikes/Vol1
_Issue3/walkingnight1.html

 

In addition, certain road hazards are more prevalent during the winter than in other seasons. Potholes, snow, ice and roadways that stay wet longer can make riding more hazardous in winter than at other times. Simply slowing down and taking extra precautions with such hazards can greatly enhance a cyclist’s safety in winter.

 

Don’t Neglect Bike Maintenance

In addition to creating potential safety hazards, snow, ice and slush will make your bike dirtier in the

winter. To ensure safety, proper maintenance must not be overlooked in the winter. Specifically, plan to clean and lubricate moving parts (especially the chain) more often to combat corrosion and wear. Road salt is particularly corrosive and should be cleaned off immediately. Rinsing a bike with warm water should easily remove most of the salt. Also consider installing fenders which help to protect not only the rider from excess road grime, but also critical mechanical parts of the bike as well.

 

Many cyclists advise putting away your newest and nicest bike during the winter and riding an older bike in its place. An older mountain bike can prove ideal for winter; the fat knobby tires gain better traction in snowy conditions and can handle rough road conditions better than narrow road tires. The general nature and purpose of an all-terrain, mountain bike may make it a better choice for winter’s less than ideal road conditions.

 

Enjoy the Ride!
Remember, the start of winter does not have to bring an end to cycling. The demands presented by winter cycling can be overcome and with some extra precautions and an increased focused on safety, bicycling in winter can prove to be a positive and enjoyable experience.  

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