Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Winter Cycling Tips and Other Fun Facts

This story is reprinted with updates from the BikePHL blog. Also thanks to Charles Carmalt, the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.

Bicycling on snow covered streets requires certain skills on the part of the bicyclist. If you choose to brave the weather on bike please remember to take it easy – literally.

I'll bet our readers have other suggestions, but we recommend the following:
  • Turn slowly around corners
  • Don’t brake abruptly
  • Road defects may be hidden by a fresh coat of snow, so take routes you are familiar with
  • Make sure your lights are working on these dark mornings and afternoons, so other road users can see you
  • Wear a good set of gloves and keep your head and face covered
  • Bicyclists have their own wind–chill factor, so prepare yourself with the appropriate layers
  • Let out a little bit of air pressure in your tires to cover more ground (Use the minimum recommended pressure listed on the tire's sidewall).
A problem more common than snow in Philadelphia's freeze-thaw winter weather climate is black ice especially on clear days in the morning and after sunset.
  • If the temps are near freezing and the road looks wet stop safely and check the surface for ice with your shoe. If its icy dismount and walk. Better to be late than recuperating from a hard fall.
  • Consider investing in studded bike tires. Studs with carbide tips may be more durable that standard steel studs.
Reporting Hazardous Conditions and Why Bike Lanes Don't Always Get Plowed

If you find hazardous conditions (unplowed bike lane, large ice patch etc.) then use 311 or our SeeClickFix bike hazard map to alert the City. Note that bike lanes that are adjacent to parking spaces may not get a clean plow due to the concern of car damage.

The Streets Department has recently purchased small snow removal equipment to remove snow from sidewalk bridges and viaducts.

Fairmount Park does a decent job plowing the MLK and Kelly Drives, Pennypack Trails. Portions of other trails such as the Centennial District Trails/Boxers Trail often are plowed. Montgomery County Parks often plows the Schuylkill River Trail especially south of Conshohocken.

Section 10-720 of the City Code was amended this fall. It now requires property owners to clear a 36" wide path along the sidewalk within 6 hours following the end of a snow fall.

Day After 03 Storm

For more info:
-SF Bike Coalition's helpful Wet Weather Riding video
-BIY, Bike-It-Yourself: Bike Through Winter- More extensive tips than are listed here.
-Chicago Bike Winter's comprehensive list of tips and resources for riding in winter.
-Bike Toronto has Cold-Weather How-To's for Bicycle Choice and Equipment, Maintenance, and Keeping Warm and Dry.


Adam said...

I have to say, I *love* the fact that since Spruce and Pine are now one lane for cars, and one for bikes, the plow operators only plowed the car lane... Send a pretty clear message, as they used to plow both of those lanes when they were both for cars.

The_Wuz said...

I do not alter my tyre pressure as I store my bike indoors. As I take my bike out into the cold, the temperature change alone reduces the pressure enough for my tastes. Last thing I want to do is reduce it more & create more resistance.