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Bicycle safety tips to keep you cruising through the winter months

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Despite below-freezing temperatures many Iowans can still be found biking to and from work and school.

While cruising through the winter months, there are certain precautions riders should take to stay safe from the elements and uncertain road conditions.

"The tires are actually really important," said University of Iowa Assistant Professor and avid cyclist, Steven Spears, "One thing is the fenders, so these really long fenders help keep the splash off of you and the bike."

No matter the weather you can catch Spears, an assistant professor in the School of Urban & Regional Planning commuting to work on two wheels.

"I've been bike commuting for about 20 years. So I ride about 5000 miles a year."

Spears says bike lanes tend to be plowed last. That's why he recommends riding where you feel the safest and have the best visibility of the road. In many cases, that could mean the traffic lanes.

"You can buy tires that actually have studs on them even that work really well in icy conditions which is probably the most dangerous condition you can face in the winter," said Spears.

Instead of swapping tires, UI Junior and Wrestler Connor Corbin has a winter bike, more fit for the snowy roadways.

"I just have different bikes. In the summer I ride my road bike, it's much faster and this is more like the winter bike, heavier tires. More traction," said Corbin.

Spears says the days after snowmelt tend to be the slickest. To spot a slick spot, you'll want a powerful light, he recommends one that's at least 600 lumens and a helmet.

"I've had many crashes where I've fallen and broken a helmet and it's been in situations where I think I'm perfectly safe and nothings going to happen. That's a perfect example of the black ice situation I was in," said Spears.

He's not the only one who's had a wipeout.

"Over January we stay here and practice most of the winter break and we get a lot of ice and snow so I've definitely wiped out a couple of times," said Corbin.

That's why wearing reflective and bright clothing is also a must, making sure drivers will steer clear and you stay safe.

Spears also recommends practicing riding in the snow around a parking lot or alleyway before hitting the streets.