Here are some of the things I mentioned at the last Grease Rag Winter Maintenance Session just in case you need a few reminders on how to stay safe out on the roads of this great city.
- Take it slow - Especially on turns, bridges, train tracks, intersections, etc. Make sure you allow yourself extra time to get to places you need to be. Things get slippery out there and you need to be more alert than you would be biking under more ideal weather conditions.
- Be extra wary of motorists - I'm sure we've all had our fair shares of close calls on the roads, and now that its starting to look more like winter around here we need to prepare to bike more defensively around other vehicles. The roads tend to be narrower especially if they haven't been plowed yet. Know that cyclists are allowed to bike in traffic lanes whenever necessary and remember to use your hand signals when ever possible.
- Try to avoid major roads (especially during rush hour) - I know how invigorating it feels to zoom by all those suckers stuck in their little cars (or gas-guzzling SUV's), honking their horns at one another on Hennepin, during rush hour, while the winter fresh breeze blows through your hair....[sigh]... But try to avoid it! Minneapolis is pretty good about plowing their trails within 24 hrs of a snowfall, so make sure to utilize the bike paths as much as possible to separate yourself from traffic.
- Layer up! - Margot gave us a lot of useful information on this topic already. Keep your extremities nice n' toasty, invest in some windproof outer layers, start out cool, avoid cotton, dress accordingly to the type of ride you'll be doing, etc.
- Stay Visible! - It should go without saying that one needs to stay visible during winter as much as any other time of the year, if not more so! As a cyclist you are legally required to have both a white front light and a red rear light. This is not only for motorists to see you, but it is for other bikers as well. Reflectors or reflective fabric or tape help a lot too.
Speaking of reflective, check out this sweet stuff - a little pricey but hopefully soon a more affordable roll will be more widely available to us poor folk - Scotchlite 680 reflective vinyl
Here are two websites that helped me compile this list:
If anyone has anything they'd like to add feel free to leave a comment or two.