“Get a Winter Mind-Set”

Tips for Cycling in Icy Conditions

At this time of year ice is just as much a problem as the low winter sun which is at its most dazzling at the end of the morning commute and the beginning of the evening rush hour when the roads are at their busiest.

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, has prepared seven tips for cyclists, and gathered advice from motoring organisations for driving around cyclists in icy conditions.

  • Let out some air - grip is improved by increasing contact with the road. Letting a little air out from your tyres can make a real difference
  • Slow it down - icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres at speed can be a recipe for disaster. No need to break that Strava record, give yourself more time and if in doubt about conditions, take it easy
  • Keep out of the gutter - this advice stands no matter the conditions, but after rain and following a freeze, the sides of roads can be treacherous
  • Chill out - if you do hit some ice or a similarly slippery surface, sudden steering movements and sharp braking can see you go from the vertical to the horizontal in record time. Relax and ride it out or, if it's an extended stretch, consider walking the distance
  • Stay seen - low winter sun and the longer nights can make visibility both for you and other road users all the harder. If it's dark make sure you have the appropriate front and rear lights (a legal requirement) and if in the day, watch out for that low sun - it's a hazard for all road users
  • Dress appropriately - layers are best for trapping in warm air and can help you regulate your temperature while riding. Pay particular attention to your extremities like hands, feet and head, as these are all set to suffer more in the cold. Also consider bringing a thermal top in case you need to stop for a long period of time
  • Consider alternatives - you may want to think about changing your route or the time of your journey to avoid icy conditions.

On some winter days, when weather conditions are freezing and very icy and it is getting dark by mid-afternoon - quite extreme - you should consider whether cycling is a safe and sensible option.

All road users, cyclists and motorists alike, need to ensure they get into a winter mind-set. People need to appreciate that it could take longer to stop than it usually does.

Ultimately, it's worth remembering that while cyclists are more vulnerable than car users, they have the same rights to share the road as drivers, and at the end of the day, we're all just trying to get to our destination safely.

NB: See Rule 163 and the ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ in The Highway Code changes, January 2022, Thank-you to Cycling UK, 2022.