Know Your Roads
Roads tend to get narrower in the winter with snow and ice on the roadside, leaving you with little to no shoulder or bike lane. Research the safest possible route to your destination and opt for one with the fewest possible cars. Less traffic usually decreases the likelihood of divots and potholes in the road, which means fewer potential hazards for you on two wheels.
Be Aware of Road Chemicals
In many colder climates with heavy snow and rain, the roads are treated with chemicals. These chemicals can corrode the metal surfaces of your bike, compromising your safety unknowingly. Be sure to diligently clean your bike after each use, including the chain. You can wash your bike with a sponge and dish soap, or opt for a citrus degreaser, available in any bike store. Finish by lubing the chain after your ride. Wiping down your bike’s frame and checking for signs of wear at the joints and bearings can save you costly repairs and accidents in the future.
Maintain Your Tires
Check your tires frequently for reduced traction or aging rubber. Consider increasing your tire size, if possible, to increase the amount of tire engaged with the road while you ride. Just like with cars, your tires are a large component of your safety and while on a bike. Be sure they are inflated to the proper psi to avoid a tire mishap. Learn how to change a tire and always carry tools and spare tubes in the event of a flat.
Make Yourself Visible
Winter months are dark and unforgiving, giving you less hours of daylight to ride in. Limited lighting limits not only your vision while in the saddle, but also your visibility to other cyclists and drivers. Invest in at least two good lights for your bike, one for the front and one on the back. Your light on front is to let opposing traffic know you are there, as well as to help you avoid debris in the road. Wear reflective clothing, and wear lights on your person, as well, to make your presence known.
Abide By the Street Laws and Be a Defensive Cyclist
If you are cycling on the road, you are expected to follow the same traffic laws of motor vehicles. Obey the rules of the road and keep your wits about you. Try to avoid wearing headphones (it is illegal in many places) while in the saddle so you can hear traffic around you and anticipate motor vehicles’ movement. Even the most conscientious rider may experience an accident, so for a safer cycling season, be sure to always protect your head with a helmet and worry about your hair post ride.