Tips for Your First Winter Bike Ride, Walk or Roll

The following is a guest blog post by local bike attorney Dan Brazil of Brazil Law Group. Brazil Law Group is a sponsor of Our Streets Minneapolis. 

Winter is a cold season in Minnesota. Yet, this doesn’t stop some cyclists and those who walk and roll from enjoying a winter ride or stroll. Many will do so for the first time this year. If this is you, I want to share some tips specifically for your first winter trip.

Familiarize Yourself With the Rules of the Road for Cyclists & Pedestrians

The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the basic
rules of the road. After all, these rules were put in place to help protect you and those around you.

Basic Cycling Rules

  • Stay on the right-hand side: As you bike, remember to stay on the right-hand side of the street unless you’re going to pass another vehicle, need to make a left turn, or need to move to avoid animals, pedestrians or debris.

  • If riding with others, stay two abreast: If your first trip will be with others (this is a great idea for your first time) make sure you only ride side-by-side or two abreast.

  • Yield to pedestrians on sidewalks: If you’re cycling on a sidewalk, you must yield the right of way to pedestrians sharing the space.

  •  Use an arm signal when turning: If you’re making a turn, be sure to use an arm signal during the last 100 feet before turning. This is required unless your arm is required to control your bike.

Basic Pedestrian Rules

  • Obey all traffic signals: Pedestrians are required to obey all traffic-control signals at all intersections.

  • Don’t enter a crosswalk when a vehicle is approaching: If a car is approaching and it would be impossible for them to stop, don’t enter the crosswalk under any circumstance.

  • Always travel on the sidewalk: You should travel on the sidewalk at all times. If a sidewalk isn’t present, walk or roll facing traffic to stay abreast of oncoming traffic.

5 Tips for Cycling, Walking or Rolling During Winter Weather

Now that you’re familiar with the basic rules of the road, it’s time to gear up with these five tips for surviving your first winter trip:

  1. Start small: No matter how you travel, it’s important to start with a small trip first. You’ll need to get used to moving in the cold and familiarize yourself with the ice and snow around you. Start with a few blocks and go from there.

  2. Wear layers: It’s not easy to move around with a thick, heavy coat. It’s best to dress in layers. This will keep you warm, without inhibiting your ability to move. For example, start with a thin base layer, an insulating second layer and a windproof third layer. Speaking of gear, if you’ll be riding a bike, don’t forget your helmet!

  3. Winterize your gear: If you have a bike, consider switching your normal tires out for studded tires or those with winter treads. You should also lubricate your cables and chains to help prevent ice, rain and snow from impeding your movement. For a wheelchair, consider replacing your tires with those with a thicker tread. It’s also important to wipe down all surfaces after a trip to prevent rust and salt build-up.

  4. Avoid sudden movements: If you’re walking, try to avoid making sudden movements that may cause you to slip on the snow or ice. If you’re cycling or rolling and see an upcoming stop, start the stop early to avoid sliding.

  5. Don’t stop for long periods of time: For all travelers, it’s important to not stop for long periods of time. The body heat you’ve created during your trip will dissipate quickly if you do. Instead, take more short breaks, especially on your first few trips.

Photo of Dan Brazil standing outside on a sunny day

Enjoy an Exhilarating Winter Trip With Peace of Mind

Winter biking is a breathtaking experience. Feeling the cool air on your face and seeing the ice glistening on the trees—it’s what Minnesota dreams are made of. Whether that bike ride, walk or roll will be your first winter experience or your fifth, if you should experience a crash, there’s an attorney available to help.

Attorney Daniel J. Brazil of Brazil Law Group is an experienced personal injury attorney with offices located in Uptown. He’s also a member of the Bike Law Network. He has a passion for the outdoors, especially cycling and climbing. Learn more about Dan and his practice by following him on Twitter (@LawDanielBrazil and #MplsBikeAttorney).

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