Many IU students continue to take advantage of the convenience of bike commuting year ‘round!
Bicycles Parked Outside Woodburn Hall, IU Bloomington: Courtesy of Indiana University
Last winter, I rode the 2 miles from my house east of campus to SPEA every day except one. I continue to enjoy saving money on parking, getting to class in 7 minutes instead of 25 min by foot (saving time), and avoiding a frigid wait for the bus. I control when I leave and how long it takes, and I never have to depend on the bus and worry about missing it. Many of my peers live close enough to walk and enjoy the chance to slow down during a busy day. Personally, I prefer a shorter commute. In the winter, I get colder when I walk because it takes much longer. I’m generally quite toasty when I bike!
I have gotten comments from classmates and professors who have noticed me continuing to bike in the winter. I’d like to dispel the myth that biking between November and March is “crazy. After all, most Indiana winter days are snow-free! Even when it snows, the roads are usually navigable shortly after. Below are some tips that will help you ride safely and confidently!
3. Dress appropriately. Is it too cold to bike? No. But if I forget to cover my ears or wear warm gloves when it’s particularly cold, I don’t enjoy my commute. I find that if I wear lots of layers on top I end up overheated. However, layers are particularly important if you’re biking for a long time. You will need: warm gloves, a scarf that can be pulled above your nose, a thin hat that covers your ears, and leggings to wear under your pants on the coldest days. Ski googles are optional. I didn't make that investment because my commute is relatively short. Avoid wearing hoods that catch wind and inflate or obstruct your side vision. My feet stay dry on the bike so I don’t wear special shoes, though you may want to wear waterproof shoes or boots if you will be walking on uncleared sidewalks. Oh yeah, and continue wearing your helmet just like you do every day!
Source: Commute Options
4. Check your tires. Your tires may go flat with the change in temperature, because very cold air takes up less room than warm air. Unless you have a road bike with thin, smooth tires you should be fine. However, some people feel more comfortable with specialized winter tires. Tread and somewhat thicker tires improve traction but there is still debate about the best kind of tire to use. I have hybrid tires that I use all year. Generally within 24 hours of a snowfall, the roads are clear enough of ice and snow to allow for a smooth ride anyway. If you were doing extreme trail riding on compacted snow, your choice might be a little different - they make crazy studded tires that are a bit much for winter commuting.
Source: Boston Biker
5. Ride smart on ice and snow. Rule number one: SLOW DOWN. If you bike to class after a light snow fall, it may be safe with good traction. However, if there is ice beneath the snow you may choose to walk or take the bus instead. If you do forge ahead, take turns slowly and break well in advance of stop signs. Use your bell to alert your fellow students who may unexpectedly cross the road while texting! Remember not to ride on sidewalks during any time of the year. It is against IU policy and Bloomington city codes and you can receive a citation. Additionally, sidewalks are often poorly treated in snowy conditions and may be icier than roads.
Courtesy Chris Meyer, IU Communications.
Don't let your bike end up like this! Source.
Don’t have a bike and on a budget? Check out the Bloomington Community Bike Project