The only real problem in life is what to do next. –Arthur C. Clarke
Although Arthur C. Clarke was a popular science fiction writer, his quote directly applies to the decisions and changes we make in our lives. One of those changes may be the consideration of cycling to work all year long. When looking to make the leap from a warm weather cyclist to an all season bike commuter, it’s helpful to know how to best prepare yourself. This is where MassRIDES comes in. Not only do we encourage cycling as a form of green commuting, we also practice what we preach. Here are some of the MassRIDES’ staff tried and true ways to bike through the cooler seasons:
Don’t forget your bike lights.
As the weather turns cooler, we lose some of our daylight hours. Massachusetts state law requires cyclists to use a front and rear bike light half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset. These small devices make a huge difference in any cyclist’s visibility.
Wear reflective clothing.
Whether you wear reflective gloves, vests, helmets, or backpacks, reflective clothing and gear helps to keep cyclists visible. If you think that remembering to wear reflective gear will be a problem, try sticking reflecting tape to your bike frame. Anything helps!
Avoid cobblestones and storm drains.
Like wet leaves, wet cobblestones and manhole covers can cause bikes to tip over. Either walk your bike across these surfaces or try to safely avoid them.
Beware of cars and buses.
Visibility in the early morning and at sunset is the most dangerous time to be on the road. The infamous truck sticker, “If you can’t see me, I can’t see you,” is especially important to remember in fall and winter months. Give buses plenty of space and make sure to slow down when they turn.
Check your pedals.
If your normal commuting bike has clip pedals, consider swapping them out for flat pedals for the season. If you slip on anything, having the ability to put your foot down to balance yourself quickly could also prevent you from falling.
Wear a helmet.
If you fall—and hopefully you won’t—a helmet is the best way to protect your head in any season but especially during these slippery months.
Now that you know what to do next, we hope you make the leap to year-round bicycling and begin practicing these safety suggestions in your everyday commute. Because believe us, bicycling in the cooler months is just as enjoyable as it is the rest of the year, if not even more so.