It is really cold out there, and in many places in the continental U.S., the winter biking season has begun.
I live in Toronto, and the city doesn't make it easy for winter bikers. The bike lanes become snow lanes, and where they run parallel to parking, the cars now fill the bike lane completely. There is no buffer like they have in New York City.
It isn't like Copenhagen or Sweden, where they have special ploughs designed for the bike lanes and do them early. Last year Toronto promised to clear the bike lanes, but the way they are designed it's almost impossible.
The city of Boulder, Colo., goes all out to make winter biking safe and easy. Multi-use paths in the city of Boulder are maintained to high-level transportation standards. Separate snow removal crews begin plowing the city's multi-use paths at exactly the same time that other crews are plowing city streets.
When it comes to staying warm while winter biking, I typically wear a thin balaclava under my helmet. As for the rest of your body, I highly recommend the following.
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I have to say, the roads are even more obviously in a state of disrepair when there is a layer of snowy slush on top of everything. Given the road conditions, I don't necessarily recommend winter biking for inexperienced cyclists — not during precipitous conditions anyway.
Here are a couple other important tips when cycling in winter:
- Remember to keep your nerves in check and focus on keeping your body centered and balanced even when conditions are slippery. It's a fine balance between watching the road more closely than usual when there is snow, slush or ice on the roads as well as the usual cars and pedestrians.
- Be sure to ride to conditions and slow down in general.
- Use extreme caution when crossing streetcar tracks.
Also, be even more aware of reduced visibility due to obstructed car windows — from snow, ice and humidity that hasn't been cleared.
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