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Winter Cycling Tips (Part 1)

trail in snow

Whether you’re on the road, settling in to your living room or watching the clock from your office desk before Thanksgiving, you know what we know: It’s snowing outside.

It’s the first snow of the season, actually, and things are likely to get a bit messy later—especially with all that travel. Well, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia encourages year-round riding and neither the cold nor the snowy weather should stop you from continuing your two-wheeled commute this season.

That said, there are certain precautions we recommend taking to make sure your ride is a safe one. Here’s a list we’ve come up with for the time being—but expect more tips this season as the winter progresses.

1. Beware of Turns

You don’t always know what’s lurking around the corner—and you don’t always have the time for a quick stop on the ice and snow. “Take turns wider on sloppy road conditions, and watch out for places where the weight of cars has packed snow down into irregular ice lumps—those can be tricky,” notes People For Bikes. “Ride on clear pavement when you can and don’t be afraid to take the lane if the street is too narrow due to snow banks for safe passing.”

2. Brake ahead of time

Chances are, your brake pads and rims are covered in ice and snow—and not because you forgot to brush them off before heading out, but because it’s inevitably wet outside and your wheels may have frozen on your ride from North Philly to South Philly.

3. Spare shoes and socks

Do you work in an office? If so, it’d help to keep a dry pair of shoes and warm, wool socks at your desk for the ride home. Trust us on this one.

4. Warm everything

In the cold, wet weather, the wind chill on exposed skin can be bad. In fact, it increases exponentially even at moderate speeds. So many sure you have a good pair of gloves, a scarf to cover your face, wool socks and something that fits under your helmet. “There are a number of caps and headbands that will fit underneath a helmet to keep your ears warm while riding in the cold, or if you don’t have one, a plain old bandana can make an improvised ear warmer,” adds People For Bikes.

5. Report hazardous conditions

When you see unplowed bike lanes, large patches of ice or other hazards on the streets, alert the city. Call 311. The city has equipment meant to remove snow from sidewalk bridges and viaducts and trails in Fairmount Park should be plowed (and almost always are.)

Got more? Send them to bike@bicyclecoalition.org, and stay tuned for more winter riding tips as the snowy season progresses.

Topics: Biking in Philly, Biking the Suburbs

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