In Ottawa, only 2.4% of commuters bike to work and when temperatures fall below 0°C most people turn in their bike for a car or transit pass. Cycling to work may offer many advantages to cars and public transit- a morning workout, no traffic and zero carbon emissions- but is continuing to cycle in the winter a good idea or just flat-out insane?
It’s okay to avoid biking on days with freezing rain and heavy snowfall but that doesn’t mean that you have to put the bike away for the entire season. Here are a few tips to get you out cycling this winter:
Dress in layers
Dressing for the weather is key to enjoying the commute to work. Breathable, waterproof outer layers are important when staying dry as well as adding a warm sweater under your jacket. Wearing a pair of insulated gloves, a good warm hat and some thick socks will keep the extremities of the body warm.
Change the tires on your bike from smooth to “knobby” tires that can grip the road. Studded tires are also a great investment for cycling on roads that tend to get icy.
Lights and reflective clothing
Both a front light and a rear light are essential for riding in limited daylight and low visibility weather. Not only will they allow for others to see you but a front light will help you to see what’s ahead. A reflective vest is also a good idea to ensure safety when cycling on roads in the winter.
Consider an alternate route
Instead of cycling on your main route that you would take in the summer, take roads that are less busy. The city also keeps a network of bike paths cleared during the winter, check them out here: http://maps.ottawa.ca/geoOttawa/ under Cycling > Existing Cycling Network > 2016/2017 Winter-maintained network.
Of course roads can become slippy in the winter which can make it more difficult to stop. Always take your time when cycling in the winter.
Whether you are already an avid commuter cyclist or are just starting to ponder the idea of cycling to work, we challenge you to try out the experience of winter cycling. We promise that when you arrive at work you will feel pretty amazing! Sign Ecology Ottawa`s commuter cycling pledge and commit to a personal goal that makes sense for you!
Commuter cycling pledge: