The days are getting colder and darker, leading many cyclists to abandon their bikes. But there are so many reasons why you should keep at it in winter.
International ‘Go for a Ride Day’ (22 November) is fast approaching – and is once again urging people to get in the saddle.
The timing of the annual salute to cycling is auspicious, with more and more riders abandoning their bikes as the days become ever colder and shorter.
But, according to campaign groups, this is when wannabe Sir Bradley Wiggins have got to stick it out to ensure they are taking advantage of the benefits to be reaped from year-round cycling.
Moving more in winter can help keep us healthy, both physically and mentally, reducing the likelihood of loneliness, stress and anxiety.
You might contract a runny nose when cycling to work through the early morning frost, but exercise is likely to boost the immune system, making you more resilient to flu.
A recent study published in the Barcelona Institute for Global Health Journal stated just as much.
According to the journal, not only does cycling do wonders for your fitness, “it is also associated with better mental health, greater vitality, lower self-perceived stress and fewer feelings of loneliness”.
But cyclists choosing to brave the cold have been warned to exercise extra vigilance, too.
The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) is urging riders to invest in quality cycling gear to stay warm and dry, stressing that durable wet weather jackets, water resistant shoes and comfortable riding gloves can all contribute to a safer journey.
Regular bike maintenance is even more important during this time of year, too. Bikes need to be performing at their best in wet and dark conditions, and investing in thicker tyres is another LCC recommendation.
However, the charity’s biggest push is to get cyclists to wear more reflective clothing and to invest in better lights.
As a part of its ‘Light Up The Night’ campaign, LCC is giving away free bike lights to new members who register with them in the coming months.
Cyclists can even get discounts on new gear and bike servicing from businesses in and around the Square Mile.
The offer is similar to a City of London Corporation scheme held recently to encourage riders who live, work or travel through the City to carry lights and ensure they are visible to other road users. ‘Dark nights – free lights’ was delivered through the City Corporation’s Active City Network, the City of London.
Police, Thames Tideway, and the Metropolitan Police.
Alison Gowman, the City Corporation’s representative on the London Road Safety Council and chair of the Active City Network, said ensuring the safety of the 500,000 workers who commute into the Square Mile every day while they use local roads is “a top priority”.
“As a growing number of City workers choose to cycle, it is important that they take steps to ensure they can be seen by other road users in the dark.
“This campaign will help cyclists stand out in the dark, wintry nights over the coming months. Our ultimate aim is to prevent accidents and ensure the City’s streets are safe for all.”
On top of free lights, City Police officers offered bike marking to prevent theft, while the Metropolitan Police displayed an innovative virtual reality kit to allow cyclists to see what a driver sees and the blind spots to avoid.
Inspector Paul Doyle, from the City of London Police’s transport and highways operations group, said it is easy for cyclists to get caught out by sudden weather changes at this time of year, particularly with the clocks now turned back.
“It’s really important that all road users remember how to stay safe but also legal when travelling through the City.
“Ensuring you can be seen is a crucial part of keeping yourself and other road users safe and preventing accidents from occurring.”
The City Corporation has committed to reducing road danger to create healthy streets where people want to walk, cycle and use public transport as part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero Strategy.