Winter Biking – Really?

Barb Chamberlain - bike advocate, blogger, business owner, and communications pro at WSU Spokane

If you’re interested in getting moving and you know how to ride a bike it may be on your to-do list—for next May during Spokane Bikes Month and Bike to Work Week.

It probably comes as a surprise that Spokane’s weather is amenable to bike riding twelve months of the year—even in years with heavy snowfall!

Given that Minneapolis was rated the #1 Bike-Friendly Community in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists, winter cold and snow are obviously not absolute barriers. If cold or wet conditions discouraged people from biking, Portland wouldn’t have the biking reputation it has either. And folks in Chicago, of all places, started a movement called Bike Winter to encourage year-round riding.

Even in the years Spokane experienced record-setting snows, there were days in December, January, and February when roads were bare and wet and drivers had plenty of stopping ability. Those are biking days!

What will you need to keep riding? It’s not that complicated.

  • Clothing: If you have the right clothing for skiing, ice skating, or going for a walk on a cold winter day, you have just about everything in your closet you need to ride your bike.
    • Don’t overdress—if you’re warm enough when you leave the house, you’ll be too warm once you start moving, then you may get chilled when you cool down because you got sweaty.
    • Wear a wind-blocking top layer since you make your own breeze riding. If it’s waterproof or water-resistant, even better.
    • Protect hands and feet with a bit extra since they feel the cold first. Wool socks and good gloves with a wind-blocking exterior shell will keep you cozy. You might also check out rain covers for your shoes.
    • Visibility: You need a headlight and taillight for your bike year round. This time of year you’ll want to keep them on all day since drivers may assume you hung your bike in the garage and forgot about it. (Remember to turn lights off at your destination to save batteries for the ride home, or get batteries that recharge with your riding energy.)
    • Protection from road splatter:  When roads are wet, you’ll benefit from fenders to keep the slush from spackling your back and spraying on your feet.
    • Awareness: Pay attention to the weather so you know what conditions you’re riding into. Pay extra attention to the people who may not expect you to be out there. A smile, a wave, and those lights on your bike will help remind drivers and pedestrians that you’re sharing the road.

Missing a few of these items? Hmmm—any gift-giving opportunities coming up in the next month or so? We just gave you the start of a wish list and any local bike shop can help you get rolling.

Barb Chamberlain, bike advocate, blogger, business owner, and communications pro at WSU Spokane, helps get people rolling with more advice and fun bike fashion shopping events at Bike Style Spokane.

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One thought on “Winter Biking – Really?

  1. […] Winter Biking–Really? (my guest post on StepUP Spokane) […]

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