It’s been as cold as -30 degrees celsius this month, and we got hit by a storm last night. There was record snowfall. Can’t say we saw a single person on a bike last night or this morning, but throughout the rest of winter, cycling is still a common mode of transportation. And we think that’s great. But we want people to be as safe as possible while doing it.
Living downtown Toronto is convenient because everything is so close, but in the winter, waiting for a streetcar in the freezing wind can be a nightmare and actually take longer than cycling.
So, if you’re thinking of taking your bike out of your condo storage early, then follow the tips below!
Have a winter bike
You don’t want to ruin your $8,500 Bianchi this winter. If you have more than one bike, use your cheaper one. If you don’t have a beater bike, then you might want to spend a few hundred dollars on a bike that will definitely take some damage. The salt, ice, and snow can do a number on your bike parts, which leads us to our next tip.
Clean your bike
Salt build-up can lead to catastrophic failures...while cycling, which can lead to serious injury. When you get in from a ride, give your chain, brakes, and wheels a wipe down. You don’t have to make it sparkling, just prevent build-up and make sure there’s no snow that will melt and damage your flooring or colleagues’ shoes.
Cycling in a puffy jacket can be uncomfortable and it won’t hold as much heat as you think. The best thing to do is layer. If you feel like splurging, a merino wool base layer (torso or legs or both) will keep you super warm. It lets your skin breathe and insulates the heat you’re generating while cycling. A sweater on top of the base layer, then another merino wool mid-layer, then a shell to block the wind is an ideal get-up.
If you bike through the spring, you know how important fenders are (front and back). The winter can be even worse because of slush, snow, and everything melting. Sometimes there’s a mix of snow and slush because vehicular traffic melts the snow. If you’re commuting to work, fenders will prevent you from being soaked by the time you get there.
Extra lights and reflectors
It gets dark early during the winter. You’re likely cycling to work in the morning in the dark, and then it’s dark by 4:30 pm. It’s important to have lights at all times, so we recommend having an extra pair of lights with you in case the ones you have on your bike run out of batteries or break. Extra reflectors on your bike also make you more visible, and if you’re investing in new winter cycling attire, get something bright that will reflect the light.
Part of the downtown Toronto living
experience is getting around the city, and many citizens choose to bike throughout the winter. We hope these tips help you stay safe, and if you’re driving, please keep an eye out for these hardcore cyclists!