ICY ROADS AND OTHER WINTER CONSIDERATIONS
If you’re like us, biking might be your preferred mode of transportation. In a world that favors large cars, how safe is e-biking in the winter? What risks should you consider and how can you prepare yourself?
Stick around and we’ll fill you in.
1. Beware the icy roads.
You’ve likely found this article with the burning question “Can I bike on the ice?” The short answer is yes, but we are going to go over the long answer for those of us that aren’t used to biking or skating on the ice.
Riding on an icy road is hard for regular bikers, and even more so with e-biking. Some people might prefer to avoid icy roads altogether, however, if you depend on your e-bike to get to work in the winter, we do have some important tips to keep in mind when you’re on your commute.
Know if the road is icy.
This one might seem like a no-brainer to many of us, but if you’re not used to colder winters, you might look at an icy road and think it is just wet. In my experience, even if it is warming up the roads may continue to be icy. So before you head out, check the weather report, check the road conditions near you, and check road signs for ice.
Take it slow.
The biggest mistake I see skaters, bikers, and drivers alike is going too fast on the ice. You might find yourself wanting to pick up the pace to make it to work or an appointment on time, but trust us, you’re better off being ten minutes late than thirty minutes late after a wreck. You might find you need to leave a lot earlier to give yourself time.
Don’t stop or turn too fast.
Continuing on the theme of taking things slow, we want to be mindful when we stop and turn while biking. There might be obstacles on the road we aren’t used to, like chunks of ice or stopped cars. This, along with the nervousness of riding in the snow might tempt us to act quickly. However, we advise you to take your time and don’t rush anything. Turning or stopping too quickly will lead to a wreck.
Give me space!
When you’re on an icy road, try to give yourself extra distance from other bikes or cars on the road. This will come in handy with that slow turning and stopping.
If you’ve never biked on ice before, go up and down the street a few times before you head out.
2. What to wear
Now I know we are all cool guys that wear cargo shorts in the winter or ice queens that don’t get bothered by the cold, but the fact that the matter is that frostbite and pneumonia kinda suck. Avoid that by dressing warm, protective, and flexible.
Biking might not be the best time to wear a trench coat, but you’re going to want to layer up and have sleeves. Just keep it reasonable and ensure you’re not ending up like that little brother from a Christmas story and you’re golden.
While you’re at it, consider grabbing one of our hoodies to keep you warm and covered during these chilly times.
3. Mind the cold battery
Have you ever gotten a warning from your cell phone when the weather is too hot or cold? If not, consider yourself lucky. I used to work in customer support for a popular phone manufacturer and this was a frequent issue. The thing is, we don’t want that battery to get too hot or too cold. You probably know this for your phone, but it is also relevant for the battery in your e-bike.
Remember, if you’re cold your dogs are cold. And batteries. So bring both of them inside. You’re going to want to wait for your battery to warm up before charging.
4. Clean and cover
We can’t stress the importance of cleaning your e-bike enough as well as regular maintenance. If you haven’t been doing that already, be on the lookout for our upcoming article on basic e-bike cleaning and maintenance.
If you already know the importance of cleaning and maintenance, then stick around so we can talk about how it applies to winter and staying safe.
With snow comes melting agents like salt and sand, mud, and slush mixed with gravel. With that in mind, you’re going to want to up your cleaning game. Unchecked, this can ruin the e-bike experience. Instead, keep your device in top shape.
You’re going to want to make sure to clean between most rides. It won’t differ much from a standard clean for your device, but keep in mind that you’ll want to rinse off any melting agents as well as clear all snow and gravel that might get stuck in there.
When you’re not using your e-bike, either take it inside with you or make sure it is covered from falling snow and you’re golden.
5. Who to look out for
Much to any e-biker dismay, we share the road. With cars, people, and in some places even animals like deer. In the winter, we have to be hyper-aware of their presence.
Cars: You’ll find a road of once confident drivers slow to a crawl with drivers who swerve out of control, or in some cases even flee their drifting car.
If you’re going to be biking in the winter, you need to be prepared for the cars around you to lose control and be able to stay out of their way.
People: Depending on the snow level, people who usually use sidewalks might be forced to use the street or bike lane. If this is the case you’ll have to be very conscious about how fast you’re going so that you can move around them without losing control on the ice.
Animals: I noticed that there can be increased animal activity in the city during the colder months. Animals who need some extra food will terrorize our trash cans, but can also pose a risk to us if we aren’t expecting them.
When it comes to animals, the things that are most likely to lead to a crash, in our experience, aren’t a squirrel jumping out at you. Instead, the issue is when you try to avoid the squirrel. Swerving hastily or suddenly stopping puts you at risk of crashing. Avoid that risk by taking your time and being aware of the animals that have moved into the city.
6. Be Visible
During the snowy and dark winter, we want to remember to dress so we can be visible. Don’t wear white during the day, and be sure to have lights/reflective gear for the night so that everyone can be aware of your presence.
7. DON’T PLAY IN THE STR33TS
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’ve gone through the list and hopefully, you’ve taken everything to heart. If that sounds about right, you’re ready to get out there and cruise. Good luck, and remember