Winter is still officially here! While many take snow and slush as a sign to put their bike away for the winter, there are just as many who decide to tough it out and continue to cycle as their main form of commuting.
However, the elements we come to expect in a typical Toronto winter can make safe biking much more difficult. Winter biking requires some extra precautions, preparations, and skill.
As the cost of living and gas continues to rise, more people are becoming creative with their ride to work. This blog will serve as a reminder for seasoned winter cyclists, as well as new ones, on how to safely cycle in the winter and as we transition into spring.
Winter Cycling Safety Guide
Winter in Toronto can involve many different weather events. From snow to ice, to slush, to rain, you need to be prepared for whatever weather we may experience each day. It’s important to not only outfit your bike for these conditions but also to make sure you are dressed appropriately for them.
1. Perform regular maintenance and inspect your bike before each trip
Regular maintenance is very important, especially if driving through heavily salted roads. Salt can accelerate rust on both your bike and its chains, so be sure to frequently inspect both. Additionally, it’s important to regularly clean and lubricate your chains.
We recommend giving your bike a thorough wipe-down with a damp cloth after each ride to help prevent build-up or rust.
2. Take the path most travelled
Winter is not the time to get creative on your route. By sticking to routes or paths you’re familiar with, you’ll have a better idea of the conditions of the road. You’ll see how often they’re shovelled or salted. Additionally, it’s a good idea to take busier paths that are more commonly frequented by other pedestrians and cyclists. Those paths are likely to have undergone regular maintenance.
3. Winter tires have different requirements
Just like with your car, bicycle tires need to perform differently on the cold ground or ice than they do in warmer weather. It’s a good idea to lower your bicycle’s tire pressure to help with traction and grip.
4. Always carry a winter bicycle safety kit with you
Getting stuck with a flat tire is never fun. In negative temperatures, however, it can be downright miserable. By preparing a small safety kit that you always carry with you, you can quickly tend to small issues and get back on the road. Your kit should include:
- A charged phone
- Portable bike pump
- First aid kit
- Multi-tool kit
- Small towels or rags
- Extra bike lubricant
5. Dress for the weather
Layers, layers, layers! While biking might warm your body up, making you want to wear a lighter coat, your hands and head might get especially cold. Make sure you have good gloves and a warm hat with you. As always, we recommend wearing a proper helmet and making sure the hat you pick does not interfere with its efficacy.
We also recommend dressing your bike up with full fenders to help prevent getting splashed by snow or slush while you ride.
Winter Weather Conditions Can Impact Your Ride
Different weather conditions can have a big impact on your bike ride and experience. Compacted or heavy snow can result in a very slippery ride, whereas dry snow that is fresh still requires caution but is less slippery.
If you find yourself on ice, it’s important not to panic or change direction. Remain as straight as possible, and hopefully you can safely clear the ice patch. Just like with driving, riding through water, slush or slippery patches can impact your stability, so slow down.
Invest in a good set of tires
There are various types of bicycle tires you can purchase for different weather conditions, so be sure to do your research and see which type will work best for you.
You can purchase thick-thread mountain bike tires to gain greater traction and stability if you will be frequently cycling on compacted or slippery snow.
Thinner tires will provide better traction when cycling through water, slush, and wet snow.
You can get studded tires which are a great option for cyclists that experience frequent icy conditions.
Watch out for potholes!
While it can be much more difficult to spot them on a wet or snowy day, they are still there hiding underneath. Potholes can result in serious accidents, so be careful and take note of where they are on a clearer day.
It’s also important to remember that potholes can frequently appear in new locations after a couple of wet days of fluctuating temperatures.
The Best Winter Biking Safety Tip Is To Slow Down
Reduced visibility and slippery road conditions can quickly turn an innocent ride into a nightmare. It’s very important to always stay alert and leave extra space between yourself and other bikes, cars, and pedestrians. Cars and bikes will both have a more difficult time slowing down or braking, so reduce your speed and increase your space.
During winter, most of the day is dark. Therefore, it’s important to wear additional lights and reflectors to make yourself more visible in these conditions.
Streetcar tracks are even more slippery than normal!
Streetcar or train tracks are often the cause of cyclist accidents in the city. During winter, these tracks will be extra slippery, so take extra caution. The safest option when crossing tracks is always to get off your bike and carry it across.
Need A Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
Unfortunately, you never know when you might need a bicycle accident lawyer. Despite Ontario’s safety regulations, bicycle accidents occur every day. In short, this is due to the negligence of other road users and poorly kept roads and bike routes. An enjoyable pastime for many, bicycling is the main mode of transportation for many Ontarians.
Sadly, car drivers and cyclists are now at odds. This has led to a tremendous increase in cycling accidents across North America.
Bicycle accidents can lead to serious and catastrophic personal injuries. These include head trauma, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and even death. If you’ve experienced a serious bicycle accident, our bicycle accident lawyers can help.
Why Choose De Rose Personal Injury Lawyers?
Bicycle accident cases are unique. Questions of liability may arise, and the path to compensation can become complex. Having an experienced bicycle accident lawyer by your side will make all the difference.
With 40 years of combined experience, De Rose Lawyers will guide you through the complex legal, medical, and insurance issues, allowing you to focus on your rehabilitation and recovery.