Best of Liberty Village

Two Wheels Are Better Than Four: Tips For Winter Cycling in the Six

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Do you embody the “We The North” mantra during winter or do you hibernate and avoid Jack Frost at all costs? Canadian winters should come as no surprise to Canadian citizens. Every six months, winter greets us with negative temperatures, (occasional) grey skies, and if we’re lucky, a white Christmas. You can either embrace the season like a winter warrior or fight a (long) miserable battle.

Sun is out. Temperatures are double digits. #mood #libertycyclery #libertyvillage

Posted by Liberty Street Cyclery on Saturday, February 18, 2017

Car owners know the drill of putting on winter tires to avoid dangerous crashes, allowing for extra travel time and filling up regularly on windshield fluid. Preparing your bike is no different, although no need for wiper fluid! Some might think cyclists are crazy to face the winter elements head on but with the right preparations, winter cycling can be invigorating and even fun!

The most important word of advice is knowing which streets are bike friendly (this goes for all seasons). An Ontario coroner’s report found that the majority of cycling deaths happen in the spring and summer months — only nine percent of cycling deaths occurred in January, February and March in the province between 2006 and 2010. So if you’re in favour of exercising while getting to work, avoiding germy handrails on the TTC, and a reliable mode of transportation it might be time to get that bike on the snowy road!

The 416 Mag spoke to Jake Williams, Manager of Liberty Street Cyclery about dos and don’t of winter cycling and how to enjoy driving two wheels in the snow.

416 Mag: How should people who regularly bike commute, prepare their bike for winter?
A lot of people like to change their tires for winter cycling, tires with a softer rubber compound have more grip in colder weather. Also using a wet instead of dry lube can protect your drivetrain from the elements.

416 Mag: How often should tires be filled with air during winter months?
Jake: Tire pressure should be monitored every couple of weeks, as ideal pressure is slightly lower than in the warmer months.

416 Mag: What are the laws around bike safety that cyclists should be especially mindful of at this time of year?
Jake: Laws regarding lights and visibility are especially important in the winter. Motorists see fewer cyclists on the roads in the winter, so the brighter lights are better. Of course, days are shorter, and riders who are typically used to riding home with plenty of daylight are more likely to need lights. Also, there’s less room on the roads due to snow accumulation, so sharing space is even more important.

416 Mag: What are your tips for what to wear for winter biking?
Jake: How to dress is very important when riding in the winter. You want to emphasize extra layers for your extremities (head, feet, hands). If it’s really cold, you may want to consider ski/snowboard gear (helmet & goggles).

416 Mag: Have you had any winter biking close calls?
Jake: I’ve had a couple of close calls over the years. The snow and slush can often hide big potholes and road debris that can cause serious accidents. Black ice is always a concern, and traction around corners can easily cause riders to fall.

If you need further winter biking inspiration, check out BIKE MINDS: Tales of the Bicycle which is a bicycle-themed storytelling event where guests will share inspiring experiences, ideas and research related to cycling. Participants are invited to engage in thoughtful, inspiring, and inclusive conversations around a mutual appreciation for the bicycle. I attended the first session on Bikes + Belonging and was blown away by the strong community, passion, perseverance, and people that have created a unifying bond between bikes and riders.


Kelty Campbell

Kelty is a marketing guru and glass half full type of gal. When she’s not at work, you'll find Kelty on her yoga mat or lacing up to reach a new personal best running. Passionate about people, health & wellness, and checking off her Toronto taco bucket list. Kelty is proud to call the 416 home and loves all things Canadiana.