On 26th October, British Summer Time ended and the clocks went back by one hour. Whilst this means a bit of increased daylight in the morning, it means that there’s a good chance your evening commute will now be taking place in much darker conditions. The weather is also going to become colder as temperatures dip through autumn into winter. We’ve put together a list of tips, which will help you increase your visibility, keep yourself clean, dry and warm as well as making sure your bike is ready for the winter roads.
1. Increasing your visibility
There’s some useful guidance on the CTC website, which explains in detail the legal requirements for bicycles being ridden on a public road after dark. In a nutshell, you are required to have:
- One white front light
- One red rear light
- One red rear reflector
- Four amber pedal reflectors
Flashing lights are accepted, but they must have a minimum brightness of 4 candelas. Cycle Scheme has some good advice for commuting in the dark.
Clothing and accessories
Hi visibility clothing is one of the easiest ways to dramatically increase your visibility on a bicycle. Many waterproof cycling jackets are now available in hi-viz colours such as luminous yellow or orange. If you already have a waterproof, a hi-viz tabard worn over a coat or jacket is an inexpensive way of making sure you can be seen. Rucksack covers are also available, and usually waterproof so they have the added bonus of keeping your stuff dry at the same time! As well as clothing you may want some reflective or illuminated accessories, see here for some tips. Most bike shops stock a wide range of hi-viz clothing and accessories, for some ideas of what’s available why not head over to Respro or Glow.
2. Keeping warm, dry and clean
Cycle Scheme has a short guide on keeping yourself warm as temperatures start to drop- waterproof socks or overshoes can make going out on rain soaked roads much more palatable.
If you don’t have a pair on your bike already, it’s definitely worth fitting a set of mudguards as winter approaches. Not only will they keep you clean and dry, but they’ll deflect the worst of the dirt and mud from the road and prevent it getting into your brakes and plastering itself all over your frame. See this article for advice on fitting and a few examples of mudguards appropriate for different types of bicycle.
3. Riding on winter roads
Potholes litter many of the roads around Greater Manchester, and unfortunately, with water freezing overnight causing tarmac to fracture and crack, many of these will get worse over winter. There are several steps you can take to avoid riding into a pothole, or other road defects like grids or debris.
Sometimes riding over a poor surface is unavoidable. If it forms a part of your regular commute, you may want to consider investing in a set of puncture resistant tyres. Typically these are slightly heavier than other tyres, but the slight weight penalty is well worth the time spent fixing punctures, which you don’t want to be at doing at the side of the road when it’s cold or raining!