Winter cycling is no longer a fringe activity. Whitehorse citizens are increasingly cycling year round. With the increase in winter cyclists comes an increased concern for safety. Drivers and cyclists have important roles to play in creating a bike friendly city that is safe for all modes of transportation.
- Do not drive in bike lanes. There is a dedicated bike lane on Fourth Avenue, but in the winter, drivers tend to occupy this lane.
- Pass cyclists when safe and at a reasonable speed.
- Do not be aggressive towards cyclists. Remember, cyclists are entitled to use streets and roads. Although most like to avoid traffic, there may be parts of their commute where they have no option but to use a busy street.
- Be mindful of cyclists, but treat them like vehicles if they are on the road. For example, stopping in the middle of the road to accommodate a cyclist is kind, but can be dangerous because other drivers may not know what is happening.
Be visible. Wear as much reflective clothing as possible. At minimum, use a rear red light and a front white light. Visibility is also important in daytime, especially in snowy weather. Wear bright colours. Chartreuse is the most visible.
Wear a helmet. Helmets are required in the Bicycle Bylaw. Statistics support that helmet use reduces the risk of head injury and death. They also keep your head warm.
Plan your route. Your summer route may not be the best route to take in the winter. Routes are cleared on a priority basis - to better plan your route, know what to expect.
Respect pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk is permitted in the winter except in the Commercial Business District (Bicycle Bylaw). Slow down and respect pedestrians. If you are using a pedestrian crosswalk, dismount before crossing.
Use hand signals at intersections and when turning. Drivers and other cyclists need to know your intentions.
Ride more slowly. Expect to take longer to get places than in the summer; being cautious may add more time to your commute.
Be cautious when turning. Intersections and turns are hotspots for cyclists.
Know conditions. Be aware of road conditions and understand how your bike handles in various types of snow, road conditions, and temperatures. After a heavy snowfall, it may take a few days before roads are cleared or packed enough for some to feel comfortable riding. Know when to leave your bike at home.
Be alert to vehicles. Be aware of vehicles by shoulder checking or using your mirror frequently. Vehicles are quieter on snowy roads.
Be alert to hazards. Watch for hazards such as chunks of ice or sheets of ice. If you encounter black ice, steer straight ahead, don’t pedal, and try not to brake, which could cause you to skid.
Anticipate stops. Your brakes may be impaired by cold or snow, so give yourself plenty of time to stop.
Two Mile Hill: Do not ride on the Two Mile Hill vehicle lanes. Bicycles are not permitted on the roadway year round. The north side multi-use trail is cleared on a priority basis all winter.
Stay Warm: Take special care of your hands, feet, face, and ears, which are more vulnerable than if you are walking. See links for more information.
LinksThere are numerous websites devoted to the topic of winter bike maintenance and winter commuting. Here are a few:
City of Toronto: Great information on riding tips, staying warm, and maintenance
Icebike: A website dedicated to winter cycling
Bicycling Life: A website for Everyday Cyclists
To report cycling concerns regarding snow clearing or road maintenance, click here. To submit other feedback on active commuting, such as network improvements, please email the Environmental Coordinator at environment(a)whitehorse.ca or 668-8652.