Once you get past the brisk temperatures and snow that come with winter cycling, one more hurdle often keeps cyclists inside: icy roads. It’s not unreasonable to be nervous about riding over slick streets; in a 2013 survey of British bike commuters, it was found that slipping on ice was the leading cause of non-collision cycling injuries.
But with the right gear and know-how—and a little extra planning—winter rides don’t have to end at the doctor’s office.
Step 1: Scout your route
Road choice is probably the greatest catch-22 of winter riding: Less-trafficked side streets are typically safer in good weather, but many cities don’t keep them well plowed in the winter. Busier roads are better maintained and less icy, but you have to deal with more cars and drivers who might not be expecting to see a person pedaling to work in sub-freezing weather.
So what should you do? That’s ultimately a question of which choice makes you more comfortable. If you’re comfortable riding in heavy traffic, go that route. If drivers reaching for their morning coffee make you nervous, pedal the side streets, knowing that you may have to work harder and put more thought into your gear choices.