This past weekend, Grease Rag held its Winter Skill-Share. My job was to talk about bike handling and safety, some of which is covered above. Combined with the previous post, I think this looks like a good recipe for successful winter bike commuting!
1) Guy-ification: otherwise known as obscuring your gender (unless you’re a dudely looking dude)… People tend to mess with dude-appearing folks less… So, I guyify. When I have long hair, I tuck it into my jacket. I wear gender-neutral clothing.
2) When cycling in sketchy areas, I keep my u-lock handy.
3) I recommend riding with a buddy at night and staying away from lonely trails. A good group to ride the greenway with is Trail Watch, which patrols the Midtown Greenway most evenings of the week. One comment at winter skill share was that if you hang out for a couple of minutes on the greenway, someone nearly always comes along. Most of us are very open to riding with someone…
Falling: Yes – we all fall. Don’t feel bad! I fall at least a few times each winter. Usually, I fall because I am not paying attention. Return to item #1 – practice! Keep your hands on your handlebars – sticking your arm out to catch yourself can cause broken wrists/arms/collarbones. If you keep your hands on your handlebars, you’ll land on your side… better absorbing the energy of the fall over a larger area of your body. You’ll have winter clothing on, so road rash is nearly never a concern. I strongly recommend helmets!
Lane positioning: Don’t ride too far to the right! You want to stay out of the crap-lane – i.e., the right-most portion of the road that contains slush, plow leavings, and other bits of crud. In addition, you want to avoid that seam between the gutter and the asphalt, which can be hidden under even a thin layer of snow and/or ice. Hold a nice line as your are riding. On a snowy day, the best line is in the right-hand tire track of the motorized vehicles….