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Special risks to consider when cycling in the Chicago winter

For many passionate cyclists, getting on their bike is not something they stop wanting to do just because the weather gets rather chilly. Avid cyclists will try to continue engaging in their sport of choice regardless of weather factors, even in a city known for its blustery winters like Chicago.

While there will certainly be bitterly cold days that will deter the most avid cyclist, quite a few people will find their way onto Chicago streets with their bikes regardless of the weather outside. Cyclists are often dedicated to their sport, whether they do it for health or environmental reasons.

Choosing to bike during the colder months, especially in a state like Illinois that will have snowfall at some point, comes with special risks that cyclists need to consider. Planning for these risk factors can keep you safer on the road.

Winter months mean low light and less visibility

During the winter season, the sun comes up later in the day and goes down earlier. The sunlight we do get will be less bright and potentially obscured by clouds overhead. While you may infrequently bike during the dark hours in the summer, you may have no choice but to get on your bike during dark or transitional times in the winter.

Especially if you commute to work on your bike, you may have to leave the house before the sun comes up or leave the office after it goes down. Investing in headlights and reflective riding gear and help keep you safe.

Be aware that drivers won't watch for you as carefully in the cold

Most people on the road know that they need to check for cyclists, but they may only do so during the nicest days of the year. In colder weather, they may assume that both bicyclists and motorcycle drivers have already stopped riding for the season.

Because they aren't watching for you, the risk for a crash caused by a negligent driver may be higher. Visibility tactics, including lights, as well as careful adherence to road rules, will be important for your safety when biking in the winter.

Staying warm and dry will keep you more focused on safe biking

Investing in proper biking gear isn't just about your comfort. While it is not true that cold temperatures increase your risk for illness, they do increase your discomfort and therefore your distraction while attempting to bike safely. Having warm gear for your hands, feet and face in particular will be important and help you stay more focused on the road.

Don't forget slippery road conditions

The last risk is a very obvious one. Wet, icy and snowy roads can make it easier to slip and slide and much harder to safely turn and stop your bicycle. Reducing your speed to reflect road conditions can help you stay safer.

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