Winter Cycling Tips
Here are our tips for riding safely during late Autumn, Winter and early Spring.
- Be Prepared
- Be Seen
- Keep Warm
- Ride Safely
- Check your brakes are working properly as they will be less efficient during wet weather.
- Ensure moving parts are always well lubricated to keep them working and to help keep out water.
- Clean your bike regularly during winter to prevent any corrosion as a result of the salt used in road grit.
- Mudguards will help keep you and your bike clean during wet weather.
- During wet or icy conditions allow yourself extra time for your journey and adjust your speed to the conditions.
- Remember the sun will be much lower during the winter months and glare will be especially bad when the road surface is wet. Having a pair of sunglasses to hand or a peaked hat will help keep out some of the glare.
- Make sure everyone can other people can see you by using good a good quality front (white) and rear (red) light, these are required by law together with a rear reflector and pedal reflectors.
- Think about the times you may be travelling. You can be caught out during winter by setting off somewhere in the daylight and not realising it will be dark when you return.
- Check your lights are working properly before you set off and try to keep spare batteries to hand.
- Be aware that many off-road paths are not lit during the hours of darkness so you may need to find an alternative route using the road network or invest in a set of lights designed specifically for off-road riding in unlit areas.
- Wear light coloured, contrasting or high-visibility reflective clothing.
- A hat and a pair of gloves, together with a good set of waterproofs are essentials during the colder / wetter months.
- Remember wearing several layers of clothing whilst out on your bike will help you to keep warm. You can always take some of them off when you get to your destination.
- If you don’t feel safe at any time whilst out riding, always pull over to the left of the road and stop until you are happy to proceed.
- During late Autumn and early Winter take care when riding through fallen leaves, especially if they are wet, as they can be slippery. Avoid sharp turns and take care on bends and slopes.
- If you are having problems seeing because of a low sun during Winter remember that other road users and drivers will be too – so take extra care when you are turning across other traffic. If you don’t feel safe, pull to the left of the road and stop until you are happy to proceed.
- Remember visibility for drivers is reduced when it’s dark so take particular care when turning right, if you don’t feel safe, again pull over and wait.
- In wet conditions avoid riding through puddles if possible as they may conceal potholes or other hazards.
- Always avoid cycling through floodwaters.
- Beware of the possibility of black ice during cold conditions, what may appear to be a puddle may have ice underneath.
- Take care on ridged tactile paving when it is wet or icy as the ridges can become very slippery. Always try to ride in the same direction as the ridges to avoid losing control of your front wheel.
- Take care when riding over manhole covers, cattle grids or any other metalwork on your journey as these will tend to be more slippery than the road surface.
- Take extra care on slopes, bends and in sheltered areas away from the sun where ice may not be as visible or the path surface may be much colder than other parts of your route.
- In icy / snowy conditions, try to steer in as straight a line as possible and avoid any sharp turns. Always be ready to put your feet down if your bike does start to skid.
- In icy / snowy conditions ease off on the use of your brakes where possible, particularly your front brake. Where possible slow your speed and use an easier gear to give you more reaction time rather than have to resort to braking.
- If you choose to ride after snow has fallen you may need to use main roads as these will be the most likely to be clear of snow, you’ll also need to ride further out from the kerb than normal to avoid the snow and slush which will have been thrown there by passing vehicles.
- Try to avoid riding on compacted snow as it will make controlling your bike very difficult. Fresh, undisturbed snow can be easier to ride on provided it is less than a few inches deep.
- Remember other cycle path users may find it less easy to hear you approaching if they are wearing hats or have their hoods up so make sure you give them plenty of warning by ringing a bell or by using your voice.