When they hit the road, bicyclists face a number of hazards. They are relatively unprotected compared to drivers in motor vehicles. Drivers opening doors may put them at risk of dooring. Potholes, loose gravel and other roadway hazards can impact a bicycle’s steering more significantly than they do a car or truck.
Cycling during Minnesota winter involves additional challenges: slippery roadways, shorter days, blowing snow and other hazards. With so many potential dangers, it can be important for bicyclists to take steps to keep themselves safe. What can you do to protect yourself while bicycling in the winter?
1. Make yourself more visible to others on the road.
Early sunsets are one sign that winter is on its way, and that means that drivers and cyclists alike may find themselves on the road with limited visibility. Because of this, cyclists may want to take steps to make themselves more visible to others on the road. As REI notes, this can involve wearing reflective clothing and using brighter or additional lights on your bicycle itself.
2. Keep an eye out for potential hazards.
While cyclists should always be aware of potential hazards, they should be especially careful in winter because inclement weather or slippery roads may require them to stop or adjust their course sooner. Cyclists should look for the shine of icy patches as well as other familiar hazards like gravel, damaged roadways or opening doors.
Cyclists should also be aware of the potential for hidden hazards. A fresh layer of snow may hide a multitude of different dangers, from slippery ice and slush to sharp objects that may puncture a tire. Avoiding snow banks and unplowed sections of road may also mean avoiding those hidden dangers.
3. Consider your tires.
Just as you might choose different tires for riding on a trail compared to riding on a city street, you should consider which tires will be the best fit for winter biking. Cycling Weekly recommends using heavy duty tires on winter roadways to avoid punctures, while others note that fatter or even slightly deflated tires could give you better traction on slippery roadways.
While taking these precautions may help you protect yourself while bicycling in winter, you also rely on the motorists you share the road with to keep you safe. If a negligent motorist’s actions cause you or your loved one harm while you bicycle in winter, you may want to explore your legal options.