The weather in the Chicago area is moving toward the bitter temperatures of winter. Many avid cyclists opt to still ride throughout these cold temperatures, which increases their risk of encountering hazards on the road.
Now is the time to brush up on your winter weather riding skills. Whether you've been riding for years or this is your first winter in the Chicagoland area during which you will bicycle, remember these tips:
Pay attention to the surface
The road conditions can have a big impact on how you ride. If you are on slick surfaces, make sure you know how to handle them. Ride slowly when the roads aren't dry, including when it snows. If it is icy or snowy, pump your brakes to stop. Black ice is a very serious issue for cyclists because you sometimes can't see it. Remember that some surfaces, such as bridges and manholes are more likely to become slippery before others.
Make yourself easy to see
Don't forget your reflective gear or lights when you are out riding. You might not realize how fast it gets dark during the winter. Sudden snowstorms or dense clouds can make it dark during the day. Snow blindness may also impact drivers: Having brightly colored clothing, lights and reflectors can reduce the risk of drivers not being able to see you.
Figure out which route is best
During the spring and summer, you may have figured out some preferred routes that got you to your destination quicker or that reduced the distance you needed to bike. Now that autumn and winter are here, you might have to change those routes. Remember that some roads are going to be plowed before others. In addition, some of the less busy roads you enjoyed riding on during the nice weather can be more congested due to changes in the traffic flow.
Ride in a safe place
You have the right to be on the road and to take a lane. If drivers are getting irked about you being in the lane, resist the temptation to move toward the outside of the lane. It's possible that a driver will try to pass you while overtaking the lane. This could lead to a serious accident if you are squeezed or the car sideswipes you.
Unfortunately, bicyclists are likely going to be injured while riding in the colder weather. If you are injured, be sure to get medical care as soon as possible. Once that is done, explore the possibility of seeking compensation for the accident by speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.