How do you get people to bike in the winter?
- You educate about clothing
- You make it safe
- And you educate some more (but this time about lighting and defensive riding)
- Remind them about transit
1. Bikers don’t need technical gear. So many websites talk about clothing on the cheap. I really don’t want to reiterate what they’ve said, but the key points are: wool, layers, windbreaker, wool, layers, and a windbreak. Got it?
2. CLEAR THE ROADS. And then clear the sidewalks so cyclists can get to the bike racks (well, this isn’t that big of an issue if your city chose the right bike rack – U-racks and wave racks stick out above the snow cover – see photo).
3. Since the days are shorter and the darkness lasts longer, lighting is a necessity. Most states require a front headlight (that means a white, battery-powered light and not a reflector, which is worthless). Bicyclists need to know how to ride safe. Every major North American city publishes something about safe cycling in urban settings. Here’s Chicago’s: EnglishÂ | EspanolÂ (both in PDF).
4. Transit is everyone’s winter friend! For those who can’t ride their bike all the way, make sure they have the right materials to connect their short bike ride with a transit ride. It might even eliminate a transfer (and reduce the trip cost). Most transit agencies in North America have bike racks on the front of buses. Check your local transit agency’s website or information center (try headquarters) for a brochure on how to ride the bus – or train – with your bike.
It can be done!
P.S. I cannot stress lighting enough. Motorists appreciate it. It allows them to make more informed decisions about their driving path and speed. It also reduces aggression because they see that the cyclist is doing the right thing.