Fall has officially begun in Arlington and soon enough we will all grab our coats to prepare for even colder weather. Being ready, in advance, for dropping temperatures will make your commute both more predictable and a bit more comfortable. Here are some tips to make the oncoming winter one you won’t hate.
Common question: But, how do I plan for cold weather when I’m using transit? That’s easy. Technology, preparation and a little ingenuity! The last thing you want to do when it’s below freezing is stand with your teeth chattering at your local bus stop, because you aren’t sure when the next bus will arrive.
- Grab one of these useful transportation apps for your smartphone, that we mentioned in our previous blog, Commuter Apps. BusTrackDC is a personal favorite as of late for all things bus and Metro. Now you won’t have to wonder when your next bus or Metro train is going to arrive.
- Now that you have downloaded a handy-dandy app, pick up a pair of smartphone gloves that you can keep on while still using your phone or other device. The gloves will keep your fingers from getting cold when you check schedules and real-time arrivals.
- Dress in layers! This cannot be said enough. The only thing worse than freezing outside is stepping into a building that has the thermostat set to 80 degrees while you are wearing a parka. Layers make removing extra articles of clothing much easier and you will often feel warmer than if you wore just a single jacket or coat.
Biking takes the preparation for cold weather one step further. Biking in the cold puts you in direct contact with the elements throughout your entire commute and it is even more crucial for you to be prepared! However, with proper planning you can be ready to hit the roads in no time. You can plan for biking in cold weather without having to even purchase any fancy gear – you likely already have all you need at home.
- You don’t need a full wardrobe of expensive bicycle clothing to ride in the winter, layering a few extra pieces on works just the same. The key after layering is to have a windproof jacket that can keep that pesky winter wind from sneaking through your clothing. Don’t forget to get a nice pair of gloves to keep your fingers toasty as well as a small hat to fit under your helmet.
- The sun unfortunately doesn’t poke its head above the horizon for nearly as long during the winter months. Make sure you have the proper lights on your bike, at the very least a headlight and tail light. You can also wear bright and reflective clothing to be more visible. By the way, ATP can gladly help with the bike light situations by providing you and your bike with a few free small blinking lights.
- The one thing you may need to purchase if you ride a bike to work is new tires. You will want wider tires with some tread to add stability and control on the winter surfaces. Talk to your local bike shop for recommendations.
- When riding in wet or icy conditions make sure to take it slow! If you do happen to encounter a slippery surface, don’t panic and break suddenly or swerve – this will likely lead to sliding. Ride in a straight line and don’t go too fast. Don’t forget you can always dismount at a certain area if it looks too dangerous.
Much that can be said about biking and transit also applies to walking during cold weather months. Wear layers so you are able to easily shed excess clothes if you are getting too warm during your route. Carrying a bag to hold your excess clothes can be extra helpful so you don’t have to hold them yourself. Wear reflective clothing since you will likely be outside when the sun has already gone down. When the weather turns icy or even just cold, it’s always a good idea to have a pair of boots that will withstand the slippery ground.
And don’t forget…
The key thing to remember is to plan ahead! Checking the weather regularly, having the right clothing for the temperatures outside, and using useful assistants such as apps will make this year your easiest, and hopefully warmest, winter yet.
For even more tips, check out this great infographic (PDF, 429 KB). Also available for download so you can share with friends!