Growing up in Vermont, I thought bikes simply facilitated recreation – I certainly didn’t consider them a tool help me get to any practical destination. In Somerville, it’s easy to live without a car. Everything I do for work or in my own time is possible using only a bike and public transportation. During the winter, however, getting on my bike and heading to work, the store, or an event can seem like something to avoid. Leave my cozy living room? I don’t want to!
This winter’s weather has made biking really easy, but even with warm temperatures and infrequent precipitation, I become more mindful of being a biker this time of year. Recently I’ve come across some great articles that other riders might want to check out.
Amanda Kersey has been writing a weekly column for the Somerville Patch “about the ever-growing passion for cycling in and around Somerville.” Her articles great resources for anyone biking in the area.
This article makes the best case I’ve heard regarding why bikers should follow the rules of the road. I often (but not always) stop at lights, even when I could run them safely, and wonder if it really is worth it. It was good to be given multiple reasons to keep on obeying the laws (although I will admit I go a half block the wrong way to get home).
Appropriate clothing and bike equipment is definitely the reason I can get through the winter without getting frostbite or crashing (knock on wood). I thought this article provided some really good tips without suggesting high end gear or other pricy advice. Lights are crucial because it gets dark so early. Frosty car windshields may also not get cleaned very well and during winter weather, cars take longer to stop, making visibility especially important. When I’m getting dressed for a trip, it’s most important to have wind proof insulated gloves and something to cover my ears. My core gets very warm while biking so I usually leave my sweatshirt in my bag and put it on after I get to work. Wind pants help a lot when temperatures go below 15 or 20. Mountain bike tires with deep treads have worked fine for me in almost all conditions. I’ve heard that it’s good to keep them slightly less inflated so more of the tire’s surface can grip the road if you’re biking on ice, packed snow, or loose sand.
It’s been really nice to share the roads in Somerville with so many other bikers. I feel much safer when it becomes habit for cars to drive with a stream of us on their right hand side. This site shows which roads have bike lanes, paths, or markings in Somerville – things have really improved in the past few years. My daily trip down Somerville Ave from Porter to Union Square was recently re-paved and had a bike lane added making it ideal for a year-round commute. If you’re also a biker in the city and have tips or resources for fellow riders, fell free to post them below!
Photo note: It turns out I only find biking notable enough to document when I’m carrying a large or funny load…perhaps a demonstration on how habitual it’s become for me. Here are a few fun ones: