Ottawa is an excellent city for cyclists. There are over 600 km’s of bike paths available in the National Capital Region. Many of these paths are not maintainable during winter months, however Ottawa is committed to maintain approximately 40 km of bike paths every winter.
It is no small undertaking for the city of Ottawa to maintain these 40 km of bike paths. Ottawa typically has fairly aggressive winter’s and boasts quite a bit of snow during winter months. Even though temperatures can reach a shivering -40C there is still a large group of people who choose to hop on their bikes and go to work instead of hopping in a car or on a bus.
For those extreme cyclists who choose to bike during the winter months there are some things they can do to make their commute easier and safer. Drivers change the tires on their cars to provide better traction in winter conditions; cyclists should do the same. Bicycle winter tires are a safety must for any cyclists who wishes to brave the Ottawa winter roads and bike paths.
Winter cyclists should take further safety precautions beyond bicycle winter tires. Brightly coloured winter jackets are necessary for visibility by drivers. Wearing white or black jackets are both poor colour choices for winter winter cycling. Choose bright colours like orange or yellow to provide maximum visibility for your own safety. It’s also important to have a breathable jacket. Biking in the winter can be physically exhausting and the last thing you want to do on a cold winter day is sweat. If you sweat while moving at intense speeds you will freeze and possibly get sick when you slow down and the sweat has time to freeze. Wearing a jacket with proper vents for winter activity will allow you stay warm but also ventilated to prevent excessive sweat.
If your route is of the 40 km’s of bike lanes plowed by the city in the winter then biking to work or for fun is a great idea. However if you are forced to bike on the road in winter conditions perhaps consider a different mode of transportation as the winter roads are dangerous enough with just cars to worry about. Slippery conditions can be excessively dangerous for a biker, and with narrowed roads due to snow piles there is not always enough room for a safe bicycle commute.
Winter safety is very important to remember for all modes of transportation, but especially for cyclists. Winter biking can be fun and rewarding as long as the right precautions are taken such as bicycle winter tires, proper safety gear and general awareness of road safety.