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Tips for Winter Bike Commuting

Darby Metcalf
Darby Metcalf December 28, 2021 In his role as a Planning Specialist, Darby works closely with property managers and developers to keep their site plans and properties in compliance with Arlington County’s standards for alternative transportation infrastructure.
ATP Takeaway: For many bicycle riders, the winter months are a time for stowing away their bike until spring. However, winter bike commuting may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Let's look at some tips for riding safely in the winter.

Winter is a time that many commuters retreat to their cars, hoping to avoid having to pedal through snowy streets or cold gusts of wind. However, with proper clothes, visibility measures, and sufficient weather planning, winter bike commuting can be safe and enjoyable.




Winter Bike Commute Essentials 

Bicycle lights 

Winter brings not just colder temperatures, but also shorter days. Be proactive about your visibility while riding. It is always key to bicycle safety, but due to the earlier sunset times, bike lights become even more important in the winter months.

Having one bright white light mounted on the front of your bike, along with a red rear-facing light, will help you remain visible to other commuters. Adding more than one light—supplemental blinking lights, for example—can also help improve visibility.

Cold weather clothes 

Bundling up and bringing a hat, gloves, and a good coat while riding can take the bite out of low temperature days and evenings. If you’re new to winter riding don’t rush off to buy new gear right away. You likely already own most of what you’ll need. One important piece of gear to consider, if you don't already own one, is a rainproof winter jacket.

Public transit 

A good strategy for the winter months is to incorporate both bicycle riding and public transit into your commute planning. We recommend riding your bike when the sun is out and using public transit if inclement weather is approaching.

All buses in Arlington County provide bike racks, and all metro cars allow bikes onboard. To learn more on how to take your bike on transit, you can visit the following sites for buses and metro.

One Step at a Time 

The first winter ride you take will be the toughest. It’s important to remember that there’s no scorecard and nobody is judging you if you don’t ride every day in winter. Commute on bike as often as possible but also remember that it's alright to take breaks as needed.

Arlington Transportation Partners can help you prepare and explore bike routes for your winter commute. 


Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners


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