I bike in Chicago year-round. Like-minded cyclists are pushing me further this winter.
In the past few weeks, I saddled up my Schwinn and rode 60 miles across the city to talk about gear, motivation and strategy with seasoned riders.
I used to be a year round bike commuter, before I started working from home in 2020. It's not as bad as I thought it would be before I started, but there's definitely a lot of work that needs to be done regarding snow removal from bike lanes, particularly ones that the big plows can't reach because they're on the other side of street parking or whatnot.
It also demonstrates how transportation isn't just about one mode, it's about many. When it was actively snowing, I wouldn't bike, I'd walk to the train instead. Chicago's sidewalk snow removal made bike lane snow removal look damn near utopian. A robust transportation system needs to account for all modes, in all conditions. It's a shame the city continues to prioritize one mode far above all others, because Chicago has great transportation infrastructure--it just needs to be maintained properly.
I love riding a bike and it occurred to me this year that biking might be like weather: there's not such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. Is that true for bikes? Just need better gear and clothing? I'm so glad to read about these people doing weather biking because it gives me a place to start.
Riding in the winter is not a big deal once you've done it a couple of times. If you can get over the initial cold shock when you start, you warm up quick, there are less newbie bikers to share the road with, and now that wearing masks is normal, you can just keep your balaclava on going into stores.
Only time I hesitate is when it's very icy, because I've fallen trying to stop quickly on a hidden ice patch, or when the precipitation is like frozen rain/sleet.
I remember why I started biking in the winter. I used to be chronically late to work because I was bad at leaving enough time for the variables of Public Transit. With a bike, I knew that I would be at work 35 minutes after I took off, every time. So if I was running late, which was often, I'd jump on the bike and go.
Biking is maybe the only form of transportation that I can reliably estimate my travel time with, very little slows you down on a bike.
I wish Active Transportation still did the January Winter Bike Challenge. I'm the all-time reigning champion from 2017. 1001 miles in two weeks. That's basically to Racine WI every night after work.
Biking in the snow or sleet stinks, but on clear days like today where its 20-40 degrees I'm absolutely using Divvy to get where I need to go. The scariest thing is drivers not paying as much attention to bikers as they do in the summer. Amsterdam only averages 10 degrees warmer than here during the winter and the see tons of winter bikers thanks to the infrastructure that makes it safe.
I sunk so much $$$ into winter biking gear. Did it for two seasons. Then COVID, and I rarely go into the office anymore. Womp womp.
Maybe I should try to sell it off.
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