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Commute by bike safely this winter

Putting away your bike for winter? With the right gear, planning and practice, biking can work even on snowy days, but know your limits. Mastering fair-weather biking is a precursor to taking on more adverse winter conditions. Before you go, consider these winter biking tips:

Dress appropriately from head to toe in layers with warm mittens. Choose boots a size or two larger than usual to allow room for thick socks. Dry out clothes between rides.

Temperatures below zero, snow accumulation, ice and wind may require another commuting option.

Get winter-only wheels: Lean toward heavier tread or consider getting studded tires. Anticipate salt damage. “Not one bike or tire works in all conditions,” Commuter Services Director of Outreach Kate Meredith said.

Plan your route and avoid busy streets. “The side streets in Bloomington usually are quickly plowed down to a substrate of packed snow, and it is rather easy to ride on that,” City employee and avid biker Steven White says.

Ride slowly and allow extra commuting time. “I try not to ride at a speed greater than the speed at which I would feel uncomfortable sliding on my seat,” White says.

Stay visible with bright clothing. Use a white light on the front and red rear light. While the law requires lights in darkness or dim conditions, lights are recommended all of the time.

Eat and drink more than usual to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels.

Travel with a fully charged cell phone stored in a plastic storage bag.

Park and lock your bike away from snowplow activity.

Pat yourself on the back for going the extra cold mile!