Getting around in the winter is hard enough with public transport being delayed, the roads being icy and everyone being snowed in. But if you are used to cycling to work, you will start to miss the exercise and simplicity of jumping on your bike and arriving at work in no time. Poor weather conditions can make it impossible to cycle in the winter months - take a look at our guide to playing it safe as the weather gets colder.
Plan your route
It's important to plan your route so that you don’t get lost or lose your bearings. If the streets aren’t well lit at night even the most familiar route becomes more complicated, so if you are cycling in another part of town or new area make sure you have a look on Google Maps first and plan your journey. Plan for the most well lit route and remember sometimes it's better to cycle on the road.
Avoid the ice
Ice can be the bane of a cyclist's life! There is very little you can do other than cycle slowly, don't brake too hard or walk your bike around particularly slippy patches. Taking care of your bike in cold weather can be a challenge too, the grit which is used to salt the roads can destroy your tyres so make sure you rinse them off at the end of each day to avoid rusts damage.
Mudguards will also keep your bike drier in muddy, wet weather so they could be a worthy investment too. Snow is another problem - whilst mountain bikes cope quite well in the snow, folding bikes and hybrids won't cope so well, so consider an alternative method of travel if you are nervous about how your bike will cope.
As the darker nights roll in it is possible that you will leave for work in the darkness and cycle home in it too, so it's important that you ensure you are seen by oncoming traffic, pedestrians and other cyclists as you ride home. Avoid a cycle accident claim by making sure you have lights on your bike - it is now against the law in the UK not to have them and you can pick them up for a very small price either online or in bicycle stores like Halfords. They must be a British Standard BS 6102/3 and make sure they are at the front of the bike where they can be seen by drivers.
It can also be a good idea to invest in some reflectors which should meet British Standard BS 6102/2 (by law you must have a red reflector to the rear of your bike) - these can help you be seen more clearly as it gets dark as they catch the light from street lamps and car headlights. Always wear fluorescent clothing when cycling. High visibility waistcoats are the easiest way to be seen - as you can pop them on over your clothes or jacket. Alternatively you can buy reflective strips fairly easily from online stores.
Aside from fitting lights and reflective devices onto your bike, always remember the obvious things too, like wearing your helmet. Accidents are much more likely to happen in bad weather so make sure you wear one even if usually you don’t. You can easily fit a slim knit hat or skullcap underneath it if it's really cold. There are a number of helmet hats on the market that will more than do the trick if you are willing to invest a little further.
How will you prepare your bike for the cold snap?