How to ride all winter

With the snow creeping down the mountains, many people are probably gearing down their bikes, and getting geared up for the ski hill.

WITH the snow creeping down the mountains, many people are probably gearing down their bikes, and getting geared up for the ski hill.

But cycling throughout the winter is a great way to stay in shape and get outside year round – as long as you’re careful. In low light and winter conditions basic safety precautions become more important than usual. City of Terrace sustainability co-ordinator, and Terrace Off Road Cycling member, Tara Irwin has some tips on how to keep riding through the seasons.

General tips

The first step is to ensure your bike is in good working order – especially the brakes. When out cycling in low light or challenging conditions, ride predictably, in a straight line, and use proper hand signals to indicate turns and lane changes. It is going to be even more difficult in slushy or icy conditions for vehicles to react, so give them extra space and warning if you are changing lanes or turning. As always, ride with traffic, and be alert and careful at intersections, where most collisions happen.

For a refresher on proper conduct when cycling, including signaling, left turns and generally how to ride with traffic, refer to the BC Bike Sense – Operators Manual.

Lighting

As stated in the BC Bike Sense manual, you need to BE SEEN, and be able to SEE the road, as well.  Visibility is poor in wet weather – which we have “on occasion” in Terrace – and it is even more important that motorists see you when they are distracted by challenging driving conditions, such as fog, ice or in low light conditions.

And it’s the law to have lights, front and rear, whenever visibility is reduced. The specific requirements can be found in the BC Motor Vehicle Act. Cars coming from the side may have trouble seeing you regardless of bike lights. Reflective material on your bicycle and clothing will increase overall visibility, and reflective bands or lights on wrists make your hand signals more visible.

Bike Sense BC says the most common statement made by a driver in a vehicle/cyclist collision is “I didn’t see them”. The next is “I couldn’t see them”.

Cold and Wet Weather Riding

As we know, cold weather results in frost, black ice and snow. Traction is reduced in these conditions and bikes and cyclist will need to ride more cautiously, especially at intersections. Using wider tires with lowered pressure can help, and if you are serious about riding in the winter, a pair of studded tires is a great investment.

The resources for properly preparing for cycling in the winter are numerous, but in Terrace our winters generally mean slushy wet snow. Fenders in this case are essential. A properly fitting set of fenders can mean showing up to your destination soaked or warm and dry.

And keen cyclists – and also those who will be walking or running at night – can pick up a reflective arm band or blinky LED bike light from the City of Terrace as part of the city’s “Lighten Up” campaign. Visit city hall or see the city’s Facebook page or website for more details.