Albany Bicycle Injury Lawyer Offers Winter Biking Safety Tips & Tricks
“It’s 20 degrees out. There’s snow on the ground. Why hasn’t that person put his bike away for the winter?”
Maybe you’ve said this to yourself as you watched someone pedal down the street on a chilly January day, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you are that person who bicycles straight through the cold months into spring.
Some do it because they bike commute to work or school regularly and see no reason to change their habits over a little snow or cold air. Some do it for the physical exercise—and maybe also for the pleasure of taking in the serene winter scenery while in motion and breathing in the crisp air. And while they’re at it, they’re reaping the tremendous health benefits of bicycling, just like they do in the warmer months—and then some.
Health Benefits of Biking in the Winter
People who cycle in the winter, depending how often and how vigorously, can burn more calories than they would in the summer. Warmer clothing and a heavier bike (if you switch, say, from a hybrid to a mountain bike) both make the workout more strenuous in a way that increases muscular endurance. And research shows that people who exercise outdoors in the colder weather are less susceptible to seasonal affective disorder.
Safety Tips for Winter Biking
OK, so you’ve decided winter biking might actually be fun, and good for you. That doesn’t mean you should just grab your bike and go without a little thought and planning—and common sense. First of all, there are limits: you really shouldn’t even consider taking your bike out immediately after a heavy snowfall, during freezing rain, or when the mercury falls to sub-zero levels. On the other hand, many winter days are perfectly good for biking, with little or no precipitation and seasonably moderate temperatures. Think of it this way—if it’s good weather for skiing and ice skating, why not bicycling?
Some things to consider:
- Wear appropriately warm clothing, in layers. Pack extra gear if possible. Make sure your extremities are warm. And don’t be afraid to raid your closet for clothing from other sports, like ski gloves.
- Wear sunglasses; if it’s sunny and there’s snow on the ground, the glare from the snow can damage your eyes.
- If you are commuting home at the end of the day, you may be riding at dusk or in total darkness; for your safety, have some serious blinking lights and reflective clothing.
- Be wary of road conditions; watch for potholes, and drivers avoiding potholes; watch for patches of ice; and be prepared for obstacles that can be obscured by snow or ice.
- If you are using (or trying to use) bike lanes, be on the lookout for snowbanks encroaching the lanes, shortening their width and forcing you toward the car lanes.
- If your usual commute involves some use of bike paths, parks, college campuses, etc. be prepared for detours necessitated by unplowed paths.
- To combat corrosion from the snow, salt, and street grime of winter, wash or wipe down your bike after every ride.