Don’t Let Winter Weather Limit Your Transportation Options
Getting around by bike, foot and transit is great for your health, your community’s health and safety, and the long-term prognosis for the livability of the planet. However, it can feel more difficult when the weather turns dark, cold and wet. Here are a few ways you can get through the long dark months without reaching for the car keys!
Plan ahead. Set out your bike gear the night before. Make sure you know which bus you’re going to catch when, and plan your morning accordingly. This may feel like a hassle, but the fact is that your bike ride and your walk (and your transit ride, if you’re lucky enough to have some good bus-only lanes on your commute) are likely to be a more predictable length, saving you time in the long run, and saving you the frustration of being stuck in traffic when you’re supposed to be at work.
Invest in good gear to keep you dry (enough) and warm (enough).
- If you bicycle you could invest in super-fancy breathable waterproof jacket and pants, or you could just dress in wool and synthetics that keep you warm when wet, and change into dry clothes at work. Or you could wear a pair of fisherman’s overalls. Whatever works for you.
- If you walk or take transit, it’s really helpful to have warm, waterproof shoes with good traction for your commute. Waiting for the bus can feel colder than walking, so add an extra layer if you don’t like the chill!!
Winterize. Get your bike tuned up or do it yourself before the weather turns crummy. Put fenders on your bike to avoid arriving at your destination with a wet, muddy back.
Light it up. Get good lights for your bike – you need them both to be visible to drivers and also to light the road ahead of you where there isn’t much street light coverage. (Pro tip: blinky lights are pretty unpleasant for other people on the road, so minimize the blink. A pulsing light works well for visibility and isn’t as distracting or blinding to other road users.) If you’re walking, it’s a good idea to have a flashlight along for dark areas, or to attract the attention of the bus driver when visibility isn’t great.
Back it up. Just like you would pack an emergency kit in your car, it’s a great idea to have a few things along on your ride or walk in case things go awry. What you carry is totally up to you and your circumstances. Maybe a snack, an umbrella, an extra hat, a tire repair kit, or a transit ticket app on your phone for emergency bus rides home.
Find out whether your employer offers useful support for people who aren’t driving to work. Parking cash-out? Bike and Walk Bucks? Transit passes? Guaranteed emergency ride home? All useful things!
Enjoy the trip! The weather is almost never as bad as you fear, and there’s delight in facing down the weather with a plan and with warm dry feet.