Cycling in winter can be a challenge; everyone thinks twice about that ride to work when it’s a wet and gloomy morning. Here’s how you can keep motivation up and push through adverse conditions!

  • Alternative Route Planning

In the wintertime, roads aren’t just salty and wet, they’re busier than normal with traffic too. These factors combine to make them a less hospitable place for vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians. 

One of the biggest factors preventing people taking up active travel are safety and comfort. In the winter, I personally take a longer route to work that I know is less busy with traffic. That way I can ride at my own pace and enjoy the commute. This might not work for everyone, but it might work for you. 

Take a car free route and enjoy the ride!
  • Staying Safe

Winter conditions mean cyclists must take extra precautions. Getting a good set of lights is essential. Remember, the law says that lights must be a solid beam (and only by adding a second light can you have a flashing one). Adding clothing and reflectors that reflect strongly in headlights is a good idea too. There are lots of gadgets out there like spoke reflectors that look discrete in the daytime, but help you get noticed at night. 

Pay attention to your tyres and brakes too. With oil and water mixing on the road, it’s a lot more likely that your brake pads will get contaminated (and cease to work as well) on winter rides. Make sure you have a good set of tyres on, and if they’re wearing down replace them. You’ll want to be able to trust them if you need to stop suddenly. 

Just like walking or driving in the winter allow extra time and use it. In icy or windy conditions, take time to make sure you arrive safely. 

  • Staying Warm

Staying warm is a must! Use layers to regulate your heat. A good pair of gloves is essential, and you can pick up a winter pair quite cheaply. Using a neck warmer ‘buff’ or similar is a good idea too – that will help keep your head warm and they aren’t expensive or hard to get hold of. If you’re cycling for longer distances getting some warmer shoes and a good waterproof are a good idea, but really you can just cycle to work in ‘normal’ ie none-cycling clothing. Several of our staff do it every day. 

You don’t need lots of expensive kit to stay warm – normal clothes are fine!
  • Knowing when not to go

Get a weather app and be sensible! Black and sheet ice is dangerous to negotiate on two wheels and riding in 50mph winds just increases your chances of a collision massively. Consider walking or getting the bus or train  if you can. This week we have yellow weather warnings on Wednesday and Thursday in the North East (16/02/22) which will make riding in traffic dangerous. 

Bike4Health wants more people to cycle across the North East and if you ever have any questions about cycle routes, tips on how to stay warm or anything else please get In touch via our contact page and we’ll be happy to help.