Winter may be inevitable, but the cold does not mean Torontonians need to give up cycling.
Cycle Toronto’s Siva Vijenthira shared tips on how people can take up winter cycling in a recent seminar on winter cycling. This includes dressing up, bicycle maintenance and learning what to do if you’re in an accident.
“Some people think it’s really cold,” she said. “To that I say you’re always warmer on a bike than you are standing at a streetcar stop.”
Vijenthira says it’s harder to keep cool when riding because of the thickness of winter clothing. Coupled with the heat generated during exercise, heat regulation, surprisingly, becomes a problem during winter cycling.
She recommends cyclists wear layers of clothing for heat regulation, and wear waterproof clothing to avoid snow and slush wetting clothing. She also says eye protection such as ski goggles can be an asset.
“If you love riding in the summer, you will probably love riding in the winter for the same reasons: the exercise, the cost savings, the independence, feeling like you always know how to get where you need to go,” Vijenthira said.
After snowfalls, main streets get cleared quickly, while smaller streets might not. However, the Waterfront Trail is the only one that gets winter maintenance from the city. She says if you see black ice or potholes along your route, call 311 so that city can send out crews to remedy it.
In terms of studded tires, Vijenthira says it helps cyclists grip while riding across ice, but it will slow you down on clear roads. If you get studded tires, she says, the studs have a 40-kilometre break-in period.
Finally, if you go back to your bike and its lock is frozen, Vijenthira recommends that cyclists should carry a lighter for melting ice.
Attendees of the seminar included a mix of people both experienced in winter cycling and others who want to try it. Among them was Suzanne Watson, a winter cyclist who says that winter cycling can be dangerous and that precautions must be taken.
“I prefer to ride a certain number of hours after a snowfall,” Watson said. “That [way] the roads are fairly cleared by the crews.”