Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Brookfield, MA
Thanked 438 Times in 281 Posts
You can ride in winter. It just can't be your ONLY transportation if you have freezing temperatures.
For 3 years when I lived just outside of Boston, I only had a bike and rode year-round, but I also had to rely on public transportation or I wouldn't have had a job for long.
As long as the roads are clear (and I mean REALLY clear) you can ride in sub-freezing temperatures, keeping in mind that ANY sudden snow storm can strand you and your bike for days. I had whole weeks where I could ride, after the sun had melted ALL snow and ice from the roads and relatively mild weather lasted, but it's not something I'd ever recommend anyone else doing.
There are just too many variables. "Black Ice" for one thing. It can form on "clear" roads from excessive morning humidity alone. You hit that stuff and you're down faster than you know what's happening. Something as random as someone throwing a drink out of their car window can freeze an unexpected patch of ice in your path. Especially in a city, people clearing snow days after a storm and tossing it on the "clear" street in front of their home can be dangerous and especially hard to spot at night.
Add to that the fact that you really have to insulate yourself with extra clothing and balaclavas and stuff, and the best you can hope for is that the cold will be just barely tolerable. Even if it is "tolerable" the cold WILL eventually get to you, slowing your reactions and control inputs, so when you do come across a dangerous patch your reaction time will already be compromised.
It's just not a good idea. You're taking an already risky past time and making it a whole lot riskier.
The ONLY time you should even consider riding all year is if the temperature in your area stays well above freezing all through the winter.