CTC and AA say: Stay safe on icy roads

Ice-cycle! Photo: Flickr CC daryl_mitchell

CTC and AA say: Stay safe on icy roads

CTC and the AA have joined forces to issue a list of winter guidelines to ensure drivers and cyclists share the road safely during the current cold snap.

With lying water now freezing over on thousands of roads and the sun low in the sky, the national cycling charity and Britain’s largest motoring organisation have joined forces to advise all road users to stay aware.

Thousands of cyclists are likely to take to the roads this weekend, with much of the country forecast to stay dry and sunshine for many parts, particularly tomorrow (Saturday) – but temperatures have plummeted.

CTC has drawn up six tips for cyclists, while AA President Edmund King has reminded drivers to give cyclists a wider berth in the icy conditions.

CTC advises cyclists to:

  1. Let out some air – grip is improved by increasing contact with the road. Letting a little air out from your tyres can make a real difference.
  2. Slow it down – icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres at speed can be a recipe for disaster. No need to break that Strava record, give yourself more time and if in doubt about conditions, take it easy. 
  3. Keep out of the gutter – this advice stands no matter the conditions, but with the recent rain and following a freeze the sides of roads can be treacherous. Seek the primary position where you can.
  4. Chill out – if you do hit some ice or a similarly slippery surface, sudden steering movements and sharp braking can see you go from the vertical to the horizontal in record time. Relax and ride it out or, if it’s an extended stretch, consider walking the distance
  5. Stay seen – low winter sun and the longer nights can make visibility both for you and other road users all the harder. If it’s dark make sure you have the appropriate front and rear lights (a legal requirement) and if in the day, watch out for that low sun – it’s a hazard for all road users. 
  6. Dress appropriately – layers are best for trapping in warm air and can help you regulate your temperature while riding. Pay particular attention to your extremities like hands, feet and head, these are all set to suffer more in the cold. Also consider bringing a thermal top in case you need to stop for a long period of time. 

AA President Edmund King said: “All road users need to ensure they get into a winter mindset during that first hour of the day. People need to appreciate that potentially they will not stop in the same sort of distances they normally would.

“This cold snap comes fast on the heels of heavy rain. Puddles have now frozen over and cyclists face a minefield of icy patches, especially at the side of the road where so much water has accumulated because drains have been unable to cope. Drivers need to bear that in mind and give cyclists a wider berth when overtaking.

Clear winter days are a glorious time to cycle but some precautions can be needed, not just for cyclists but for all road users."
Paul Tuohy, CTC CEO

“The low winter sun can also be a particular problem at this time of year, especially as it is at its most dazzling at the end of the morning commute and the beginning of the evening rush hour from 4-5pm, when the roads are at their busiest.

“We would advise drivers to get up at least 10 minutes early to give time to prepare the car. Don’t drive off like a tank-commander, with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen. Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer to ensure good all-round vision.”

The AA website provides detailed advice about winter driving and coping with snow, cold and ice, as well as a list of general tips for drivers regarding cyclists.

Edmund King added: “Cyclists are more vulnerable than car users. They have the same rights on the road and drivers should remember they are sharing the road with cyclists.

“Drivers should give as much room as practically possible when overtaking a cycle – Highway Code Rule 163 illustrates one car’s width – they may have to move out to avoid hazards like drains, potholes, or other debris on the road that you may not be able to see. And now ice has added to the potential dangers.”

CTC Chief Executive Paul Tuohy said: “Clear winter days are a glorious time to cycle but some precautions can be needed, not just for cyclists but for all road users. If you are heading out this weekend for a winter ride check out our tips and enjoy what look to be some cracking conditions for cycling.”

Thinking of going out for a ride and would like company? CTC has hundreds of member and affiliated groups around the UK which welcome riders of all abilities.

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You could add point 7. Avoid riding when you have alcohol in your system.

What about recommending using winter tyres on your bike. I've got a set with metal studs in, which are great. I know they're expensive and heavy, but they work really well, and make you feel confident when the weather is bad. Crashing on black ice is something I'd prefer to avoid.

Hi. Couldn't agree more about Spiked Tyres. I commute with a mixture of on road and off road and these tyres work equally in both environment. Highly recommended in icy conditions. Love them

Also, brake if possible only using the rear brake as it's easier to control a skid on the rear in snow or icy conditions than a front wheel skid (or tone down the front brake force/ usage). I learnt this the hard way!

If the sun comes out beware of ice persisting in shaded areas long after it has melted everywhere else.