A clear, crisp winter day can make for an excellent cycle ride, whether you’re commuting or just taking in some air.
However, ice and snow can obviously prove to be hazardous conditions for any travel, with cyclists being particularly vulnerable.
The UK has seen some particularly low temperatures of late, with warnings that the current cold snap could continue.
As such, the Met Office and charity Cycling UK have teamed up to provide cyclists with some top tips on how to travel by bike safely.
The charity asks that: ‘All road users, cyclists and motorists alike, need to ensure they get into a winter mind-set.
‘People need to appreciate that it could take longer to stop than it usually does.’
Here is what they recommend.
Tips for cycling in icy weather
Cycling UK begins by asking all cyclists to consider whether their journey is really safe to carry out via bike in extreme weather conditions and to consider alternatives where needed.
They state: ‘Cyclists can face a minefield of icy patches, especially at the side of the road where so much water has accumulated because drains have been unable to cope.’
‘This might mean the cyclist has to make sudden and unplanned shifts in direction as they negotiate their way through the hazardous conditions, such as ice, drains, potholes and other road debris.’
However, if you have decided that your journey is safe, there are some things you can do to help ensure arrival at your destination without incident.
The first (and perhaps, the most obvious point) is that icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres do not mix well. As such, slowing down and allowing more time for your journey during freezing conditions is essential.
Let some air out of the tyres
When cycling, grip can be improved by increasing the contact between the tyre and the road. As such, letting a small amount of air out of your tyres can help.
Keep out of the gutter
While Cycle UK state that while ‘this advice stands no matter the conditions’, it is vital to keep out of the gutter after rain, as, following a freeze, conditions can be particularly hazardous.
If you hit an icy or uneven surface, it’s important to remember that sudden steering corrections or severe braking can prove to be a big mistake.
If you do encounter a particularly hazardous part of the road, keep calm and consider walking with your bike until it has passed.
Winter conditions mean fewer hours of daylight, meaning cyclists using the road can be less visible to those in vehicles. As such, having the right front and rear lights on your bike is crucial, as well as a legal requirement.
During the day, watch out for low sun, which can prove blinding when reflecting off of puddles.
It is important to stay warm when cycling in the winter, and layers are best for trapping in warmth.
Cyclist UK says it is vital to: ‘Pay particular attention to your extremities like hands, feet and head, as these are all set to suffer more in the cold. Also consider bringing a thermal top in case you need to stop for a long period of time.’
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