Stay happy and safe this winter!
Original text via Sustrans Birmingham Office :
Here are some top tips on how to stay happy and safe on your bike when cycling during the winter months.
This is important. It can be hard for motorists to spot cyclists at the best of times, so take extra care when cycling in dark conditions. A helmet and hi-vis are a good idea all year round, but become even more important as the evenings get darker. If you regularly cycle with a rucksack, consider getting a reflective cover.
Way to go
Reconsider your route. Quiet roads that are good to ride on in fair weather are more prone to freezing - particularly early in the morning and bends can be very difficult if icy. Sometimes a gritted busier road is better than an icy quiet road.
Dress for it
Jacket and gloves should be numbers one and two on your checklist – you won't make it much past the end of October without them.
Your jacket needs to be water and wind proof, but also breathable and not too thick. It's amazing how quickly you can overheat while cycling, even on the coldest days and you can always add extra layers underneath if necessary.
When the going gets tough
Jacket and gloves will see you through cold, wind and light showers, but if you want to keep going when things take a turn for the torrential you'll need a way to keep your legs and feet dry. That means breaking out the waterproof over trousers and overshoes.
Protect your stuff
Worried about your expensive leather handbag or I-pad getting wet? A waterproof pannier bag will protect everything and make cycling safer. You can also line non waterproof bags and carriers with a plastic bag to keep the rain out.
Let us spray (no wet bums please)
If you’re riding in wet conditions, get your self some good mudguards with side stays. They’ll stop annoying spray backs on yourself and others. Clip-ons can be tempting, but if you're serious about staying dry, the wrap-around commuter style is the way to go. To protect your saddle from getting wet, you can always cover it with a plastic bag or simply carry a cloth to wipe it off!
Bikes tend to deteriorate more quickly in the winter months with things becoming loose easily in the wet. To make sure your bike is in tip top shape get it serviced at a local bike shop to prevent any nasty surprises during your ride.
....then look after it
Water (particularly mixed with road salt) is really tough on your bike. After riding in bad weather, it's a good idea to give your bike five minutes of TLC to keep things running smoothly.
First, give it a general rinse and wipe-down to remove dirt, salt and grit. Pay particular attention to the chain, gears, brakes and wheel rims.
When you're done, dry it off with an old towel. Disperse any excess water in moving parts with a spray of WD40, GT85 or something similar then add some bike oil to the chain and gear mechanism.
Light it up
By law, your bike must have a white front light and red rear light (constant or flashing) when cycling in the dark. To help with visibility, bling your arm, bag or clothing with extra lights. In low light murky conditions good lights will make you more visible so you might want to carry some spare batteries with you to cope with the extra demand. Save money and reduce waste by investing in rechargeable batteries.
Get a grip
A good set of tyres will go a long way to prevent unnecessary skidding and they will also lessen the likelihood of you having to fix a puncture in the sleet and rain! Inflating the tyres a little less than you would in summer will improve traction in slippery conditions.
Pedal on safely
Pedals get slippery in the wet too. If you’re not comfortable with clip-in pedals, invest in some with extra grip. They’re pretty easy to fit or your local bike shop can give you a hand.
Start slowly so that your body, especially your joints and muscles, can warm up properly.
Leave extra time to cycle slower in wet and snowy conditions.
When riding on settled snow, brake often to clear rims. Braking is up to six times longer when rims are wet.
Avoid puddles that may hide potholes or other road hazards. .
Many surfaces are slippery in the wet, like tram tracks, painted lines, metal bridges and road plates - try to avoid these as much as possible or cross them with caution.
Be aware of metal surfaces such as tram tracks and road plates which can be icy when other road surfaces are not.
If you encounter ice, steer straight, don't pedal, and try not to brake as this could cause you to skid and fall.