Daylight gets pretty limited during the winter months and inclement weather also becomes a threat, these conditions add some challenges for bicycle commuters, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to use your bicycle to commute. These types of conditions just mean that we need to take some extra precaution and be more prepared. We need to be conscious about the challenges that these conditions create and make changes in our routine and gear in order to accommodate these challenges and ride safely.
Part of the challenge of continuing to commute through the winter months comes from having to commute in the darkness. To adjust to these conditions we need to make sure that we have proper lighting for our bicycles and also that we take care to plan alternate routes. My normal commute takes me along the river path, but once it is dark out I am reluctant to ride along this path as it is too remote to be safe, in this situation I change my route to remain on the road. But with proper planning I am able to minimize the amount of time I spend in traffic. Take the time to google your route and look for alternatives that will take you through more lightly traveled residential routes. Also be extra cautious when riding in the dark, even if your bike is well lit, take extra time to stop for stop signs and yield to any vehicles on the road.
Another challenge we deal with is inclement weather and once again with a little planning this is a challenge that can be dealt with. Always wear your helmet regardless of the weather, but here it provides some extra warmth. Get yourself a thin fleece ski hat to wear under your helmet and a neck gator to be able to pull up should the weather demand extra warmth. Also invest in a nice pair of gloves to insure that your hands remain warm. If you are comfortable while riding you are much less prone to be impatient and make a critical safety error. Another item I recommend is safety glasses, I wear them at all times when riding just to prevent any potential debris from coming up from the road and striking my eyes, but especially in the winter when cars may spray up water, snow, and even sand or salt. Also think about investing in a decent set of fenders for your bike, though they look a little geeky, you will be a lot more comfortable should you get caught in a storm.
Winter time presents some additional challenges but doesn’t mean that we have to stop commuting by bicycle. Be prepared to commute in the dark during the winter, be prepared for inclement weather, and make sure you take extra time to yield to traffic. By taking precautions we can stay fit, save money, and reduce traffic congestion all year.