Three tips for safe winter biking
    Photo by Max Brawer / North by Northwestern

    A bike seems like the perfect solution to Northwestern’s long, spread out campus: by buying a two-wheeler, you’ve also bought a few extra minutes of sleep before your 9 a.m. class all the way at Tech. Everything’s great–until November. Instead of simply enduring Evanston’s rainy, cold weather, you have to pedal through snowdrifts and single-digit temperatures. Bikes don’t seem so glamorous anymore, and you may be tempted to write the whole experiment off as a poor decision made in your first college days. But fear not! There are ways of getting through the Evanston winter with your bike–and your sanity–intact.

    Practice safety first
    If you want to ride every wintry day, The Pony Shop owner Lou Kuhn recommends a pair of studded winter tires. They provide better traction, so you won’t slip when you’re braving the weather. Anne Barnes, marketing manager at Turin Bicycle, also recommends ‘blinky’ lights–“Small LEDs that will make you stand out in traffic”–that you attach to either the front or rear of your bike. Adding fenders or using tires with a reflective sidewall will help keep you safe and visible.

    Bundle up your body
    Make yourself comfortable while riding. Barnes says, “If you’re not comfortable, your mind is more concerned about getting warm than arriving safely.” Barnes recommends thermal tights, gloves and jackets that incorporate GORE-TEX fabric (a waterproof fabric). Wear a fleece lining and a hat underneath your helmet for warmth, especially if you bought a ventilated helmet.

    Bundle up your bike
    You’ve got a tricked-out bike and a fashionable biking outfit, but can you store your new investment outdoors? Unfortunately, Barnes said, “We advise our customers to store their bike indoors if possible.” But if that isn’t an option, she recommends covering it with a tarp. Kuhn agrees, saying, “Use an oil-based heavy chain [lubricant] if you’re going to ride during the winter, or even if you are storing the bike outside.”


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