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Be Aware of These Winter Cycling Hazards

By Adam Marsal

Winter cycling challenge makes us commute through the coldest month of the year, which presents many hidden hazards we should be expecting on the roads.

Black ice

A thin layer of glaze ice on the surface is extremely dangerous as it’s only a thin ice coating that is transparent and thus difficult to see compared to snow, frozen slush, or thicker ice layers. It appears on the roads when the temperature drops to around zero and the moisture gets icy on the frozen surface. There is high risk of slipping and subsequent accident due to unexpected loss of traction.

Winter London
Black ice can surprise you in the worst possible moment. © Profimedia

How to cope with it: The risk for cyclists increases every time the weather changes during the winter season. Temperatures below or above zero are relatively safe but if the temperature hovers around zero, you’ll do best if you leave your bike at home. If you choose to cycle anyway, try to stay in control of your bike more than ever. Slow down to a third of your usual speed and keep balance evenly on the front and rear to prevent skidding. By all means, do not grab the brakes. Especially front wheel skid is extremely dangerous as it hits without any warning and sends you to the ground before you can say Blueberry pie.

Low visibility

With only a few hours of daylight, cyclists are forced to commute in dark hours. Thick cloudy weather or fog doesn’t make it any better. Many drivers have to tackle morning rime that may reduce their view because their car windshield becomes a sort of a peephole. That’s why cyclists who ride without lights may get hit sooner or later.

Winter Night
Winter cycling is dangerous especially during the night. © Profimedia

How to cope with it: Staying visible is one of the most important things when it comes to safety. Always make sure your lights are fully charged. Wearing an apparel of visible colours as well as reflective arm and leg bands is highly recommended to increase your visibility from greater distance.

Weekend road users

Winter holiday is the time when people want to be closer to each other. Traffic gets busier since people travel to family visits or hurry to fetch their last-minute Christmas gifts. These duties summon even occasional and less experienced road users behind the wheel.

Cycling in Winter
Think for the other road users if you want to stay safe on the roads. © Profimedia

How to cope with it: Stay visible and make sure to make your intentions as clear as possible. Always indicate before turning left or right so that you won’t fail to be noticed by the road users around you. Try to anticipate what might happen, and watch out for exit direction in case of unexpected incidents.

Dog poops

Under cover of darkness, more and more dog lovers forget to clean up after their pets. That way, the paths running through parks turn into minefields.

How to cope with it: Take only the main roads and avoid narrow trails. Use a strong front light that will not only make you visible for the drivers but will also illuminate the road in front of you. Equip your bike with front and rear mudguards that will help you to get home unsoiled.