Riding techniques for poor weather conditions

Seventy percent of winter cyclists reported never sustaining an injury – or even a bruise. If you're properly dressed and riding cautiously, winter cycling is a very safe and practical way to commute for most of the year.

In poor weather conditions, you should be extra attentive on the road. A little extra caution goes a long way to staying safe. On days with heavy snow or freezing rain, consider alternate means of transportation.

Techniques

Winter cycling – especially after snow has fallen – isn’t the same as cycling during warmer months. Use these tips to keep safe:

  • Roads tend to be a bit narrower due to snow banks Ride in the middle lane when necessary, which will prevent motorists from passing you too closely.
  • Avoid patches of ice and snowdrifts at all times.
  • Ride a bit more slowly to allow for maximum traction. It is also wise to cycle slowly since drivers do not expect to have to contend with cyclists in the colder weather.
  • Take curves at a slower pace and avoid leaning with the bicycle. Try to keep the bike perpendicular to the ground at all times for maximum traction.

Braking

Winter cycling requires special braking technique:

  • Avoid over-braking on slippery surfaces and keep your brakes properly greased to prevent them from icing up..
  • Test your brakes often and make the adjustments when needed. 
  • If you are having trouble using your brakes on a particular day, you can try the following technique to achieve better results:
    • Position your pedals in the 6- and 12-o'clock position.
    • Stand up, one foot on the 6-o'clock pedal, the other one on the ground in front of the 12-o'clock pedal (skidding a foot on the ground stabilizes the bike).
    • Be sure to make contact with the ground with your heel first.

When braking in the rain (or anytime your rims are wet):

  • Remember that the first few revolutions will only succeed in drying the rims and pads of your bike; be sure to allow yourself more stopping distance.
  • Pump your brakes to help the rims and pads dry off more quickly.
  • Avoid painted line or steel surfaces, as these are the most slippery part of the road when wet.
  • Keep your tires slightly under-inflated to increase contact with the road and therefore, give you more control.
  • Avoid riding through deep puddles that may be concealing potholes and other hazards.
  • Avoid leaves, mud and other material that may be very slippery in wet weather.
  • Ride in the tracks of the motor vehicles in front of you. This can give you a drier surface and better traction.