Getting geared up for winter cycling should not scare people away from getting out on those roads.
This was the premise for the Winter Bicycle Riding Lunch and Learn, put on by the Halifax Cycling Coalition. The event was designed to prepare cyclists for navigating the sometimes slippery winter roads.
Ben Wedge, chair of the coalition, hosted the event on Thursday.
He said there are some winter accessories that all cyclists should invest in, such as fenders and closed-in bike gears ? to protect against flying slush and harmful salt ? and a good pair of gloves to keep your hands cozy.
“If you can save a dollar anywhere in your budget, put that extra dollar into a warmer pair of gloves,” he said. “That’s the best money you’re going to spend all year.”
Wedge says effective winter cycling requires dressing in layers that you can easily remove if you get too hot.
Studded tires work for more avid cyclists on tougher, icier routes, he said, but they can do it themselves by outfitting standard or wide tires manually with screws or zip ties.
Alex McOuat, who works at Idealbikes on Barrington Street, says commercial options range from tires that are only partially covered with studs to those that are fully covered.
McOuat says winter cycling is not as bad as people think and that “drivers are much more attentive during the winter time.”
He says the biggest problem during winter is comfort and warmth for the cyclist.
Safety is paramount when cycling at any time of year.
Wedge says “the most important thing is to be seen.” This can be difficult on days with low visibility.
Wedge says brightly coloured clothing, reflectors and lights are essential equipment for winter cycling, especially when travelling after the sun goes down.
For people who are cycling during winter months for the first time, he suggests letting air out of the tires, which not only increases traction but also forces cyclists to slow down.
“Take those corners slowly and take lots of space. If you have to move and if you have to take the whole lane of traffic when turning, just do it,” he said.
The Halifax Cycling Coalition and the municipality are working together to ensure road conditions are safe for cyclists.
Cyclists are encouraged to phone 311 if cycling lanes and edges of roads are not adequately cleared of snow or if potholes are present. The same goes for bad paint jobs on lanes and stop lines.
The coalition is focusing its efforts on a new project.
It’s On Track for 2020 campaign calls on the municipality to create protected bike lanes spanning 37 km throughout the HR, at a cost of an estimated $4 million.
Wedge added that educating motorists on keeping that one-metre space between their cars and cyclists is a continuous battle.
He says ensuring cyclists and motorists “share a sense of respect” for each other should be a top priority.