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Keeping Safe on Dark Winter Roads

08 February, 2015 0 comments

Safe cycling on dark winter nights

 

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Keeping Safe on Dark Winter Roads

Whether you are commuting, going to the shops or off for a day’s ride, you need to make sure that you stay safe whilst cycling in winter, especially on dark roads with ice, snow or rain. Thankfully with today’s technology and understanding about cycling safety it means you don’t have to do too much, or pay too much, to ensure you are in a much safer position when cycling.

Light up.

The best way to stay safe is to make yourself visible. It’s a good idea - and in many parts of the world illegal not to - wear good reflective clothing that ensures you are seen on a dark road by cars. Try to have reflective strips on your knees and ankles too, as that’s a good way to make sure drivers spot you. When it comes to a light for your bike it’s better to invest in something that will last and won’t need to have the batteries changed every few days. The best lights are powerful, lightweight, can hold their own against car headlights, and can be recharged between rides when needs be.

Mind the weather.

It’s not just cars that you need to be aware of when cycling in winter. It’s always a great feeling when you’ve toughed out a hard ride in bad weather but there are some factors to take into consideration before you head out into the cold. Keep yourself warm so that you aren’t risking getting ill, and make sure your hands are covered in a good pair of gloves. Numb fingers or thick gloves can reduce dexterity, which you will need more of on an icy road. To keep out the wet of rain or snow you could go for over-trousers or over-shoes. This allows your mind to focus on the road ahead and not on how cold or wet your feet are.

Bike maintenance.

Cycling safety is as much about the bike as it is about the rider. Winter weather conditions can have an adverse affect on your bike and ensuring that it is maintained properly can go a long way to keeping you safer on winter rides. The first thing to do is to make sure to clean your bike a little more often than usual. This is to ensure that salt and grit from the lorries trying to clear the roads aren’t causing corrosion in the suspension and gears. Don’t be afraid to store your bike in the cold between rides, as taking out a room-temperature bike into snow can cause ice to form more easily. Depending on how bad the snow is where you regularly ride it can be a good idea to look at a new set of tyres for the snowy roads.

 

Be aware.

No matter whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist or driver, everybody needs to be that little more vigilant when out and about in the dark hours of winter. If you are going to be cycling around cars it’s especially important to be extra observant. Other traffic on the road might have a harder time seeing you in bad weather even if you are in full reflective gear and pedestrians are certainly much harder to see than at other times of the year. Even if you are cycling on quiet, empty roads, keep an eye out for anything in the road that may cause a problem. In bad rain, snow or the dark it’s hard to see things like metal drains or manhole covers. Also be aware of wet leaves, ice and how your bike feels when cornering.

Cycling in winter can be a real joy, no matter what the weather. By looking after yourself and your bike you can keep safe no matter how cold and dark it is, and this gives you space to relax and enjoy your ride. If you are a regular commuter on your bike then don’t let the dark evenings drawing in stop you from carrying on with your routine. Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of other cyclists on the road and around the traffic lights who are braving the conditions just like you. If you find the idea of going out on a long ride by yourself in the winter daunting then ask a friend to come with you. Social cycling in winter can be a great way to get past any problems posed by the weather or by safety. 

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