By Katy Bryce for Commute Options
Winter is coming, but that doesn’t mean that you need to curb your walking or biking commuting habits. With a little planning and preparation, you can still enjoy transportation options in the winter.
Start Small. Even if you are a seasoned bike rider or walker, winter commuting can be more challenging, so start with one day a week. Or watch the weather forecasts to see when the best weather days are and choose to not drive on those days.
Allow for Time. Inclement weather, varied surfaces and limited daylight means that commuting in the winter just takes longer. Brian Potwin, Education Coordinator for Commute Options stresses that increasing your time allotment for getting to and from places is important. “Allow yourself plenty of time in the winter when biking, walking and even driving. Commuting is always safer when we allow ourselves five extra minutes to get where we are going.”
See and Be Seen. Shorter days and longer nights have us commuting more in the dark or twilight hours. Add in some cloudy skies or a snowstorm and visibility becomes even more challenging. Whether you are biking or walking, see and be seen by using bright lights, reflectors and wearing bright clothing.
Dress Properly. It is amazing how warm you can get when you walk or bike to work. You’re burning calories (which we all like to do, right?) so you heat up a bit. Brian Potwin adds, “Many people over dress, then they get to work overheated and maybe even sweaty. Try to dress in layers so you don’t overheat too much. But take care with your hands and ears. Cover those parts up so you don’t freeze them!”
Biking. Central Oregon is a good place to bike commute year round as we typically don’t have that many days with snow on the ground. Allow yourself plenty of time and vary your route through quieter parts of town if needed. Bikes with fatter tires or even studded tires for the snow work well and be sure to keep your bike in top maintenance shape. And remember that the same rules of the road apply in all seasons.
Walking. Walking is also an option in the winter, but some precautions should still be taken. Wear bright clothing and stay on the sidewalks and walking paths. During the slippery months when the walking surfaces are icy, try some ice traction devices for your shoes, such as Yaktrax. They work surprisingly well and give you added traction.
More Options. Remember that there are other options that reduce your single person vehicle trips in the winter. Try a hybrid commute such as walking to the bus stop, then taking the bus. Carpooling is always a nice way to share the load of driving and teleworking is a great option in the winter when the roads are bad.
Try out some different options and see what works best for you. Commute Options has excellent educational resources and opportunities for winter commuting.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com