Safety Tips for Cycling in Winter (If You Must)

By Peter DePaolis

Virginia Injury Lawyers Promote Safety Measures to Decrease Bicycle Accidents

In February, a woman died in Virginia after being hit by a VDOT snowplow. She was cycling to work in winter on the side of road around 5:40 a.m. According to investigators, the woman and the snowplow were going in the same direction on Route 1 when they collided. Police have said that the bicycle accident was caused by bad weather, and that the cyclist was obeying bicycle laws by riding with a white front reflector and a red rear reflector.

Cyclists face many dangers on the road, especially in winter. We recommend taking public transportation or using cars during inclement weather, but we also understand that for many, cycling is the only option available. Here are some tips for staying safe on the road when cycling during winter.

Cycling Safety Tips for Winter

  • Add studded or treaded tires. Consider buying new tires when the snow starts to fall. Most tires are designed to let you ride as fast as possible, which is not a good idea in the winter. Studded and treaded tires create more traction with slippery surfaces, and larger tires decrease your risk of getting stuck in a pavement crack obscured by snow.
  • Ride defensively. Assume other drivers cannot see you, and behave accordingly. Try to make eye contact with drivers before merging or turning into traffic.
  • Stay visible. Wear reflective clothing and use a headlamp if cycling at night. Make sure your bike has front and rear reflectors as required by law.
  • Ride slower. Ice can create slippery conditions, and so can a light snow if it’s been packed down by cars, cyclists or pedestrians. Make your turns slowly to decrease the chances of falling over
  • Brake using just the rear tire. This decreases your chances of spinning out.
  • Use busy streets. More traversed roads are more likely to be plowed.
  • Get a winter bike. Winter puts bikes through a lot of wear and tear. A weather-ready, beat up bike with stronger tires makes more sense than a nice, expensive bike that is going to suffer a lot of damage from snow, slush and road salt.
  • Clean your bike routinely. Materials like road salt and sand can make your bike rust faster. This creates potential problems by disrupting your ability to stop or slow down in time. Wiping down the chain and pouring some warm water over the gears will help.

While transportation laws aim to protect cyclists from dangers on the road, other drivers do not always obey these laws, and city officials may not exercise enough caution when plowing the roads. Do your best to stay safe, and if you get seriously injured while cycling, or if a loved one passes away while riding a bike, contact a bicycle accident lawyer near you to learn more about your options for recovery.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.