Sustrans’ Active Travel Officers in Dumfries and Galloway compile their top tips for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers as the season changes.
Tips for walking and cycling in autumn and winter
Check the weather and dress accordingly
This includes making sure you can be seen and that you are going to be adequately warm and dry. Watch this video for some advice on how to stay warm.
Check your route
If it’s icy, try stick to the main roads as quieter roads can be more prone to ice. Beware of ice in sheltered places that don’t get the sun and consider the risk of black ice before setting off on your journey.
When travelling between dusk and dawn your bike must have a white front light and a red rear light – this is a legal requirement. You might also want to increase your visibility by adding extra reflective strips to your clothing, bags and helmet.
Consider your road positioning
If you’re cycling in the dark you may want to ‘take the lane’ and move further away from the kerb to make sure you are seen.
Get a service
It is the perfect time of year to get your bike serviced to make sure it’s safe for the winter, so take this as your reminder. You may even want to think about using wider, knobbly or even studded tyres for icy conditions. If you don’t have the option of different tyres, try deflating your tyres slightly but carry a pump for if the weather improves.
Tips for driving in autumn and winter
Take your time at junctions
Remember cyclists can be harder to see so turn your head to properly look at junctions. Additionally, don’t stop in bike boxes. This space allows cyclists to safely manoeuver junctions.
Give space to cyclists and pedestrians
As a rule always give cyclists at least a car width of space when overtaking and don’t overtake on a blind corner or if there’s oncoming traffic. For more information on how to overtake a cyclist safely see this blog post.
Don’t forget to look out for puddles and avoid splashing pedestrians!
Slowly does it
Drive slowly on roads where people live, work and play – you may have seen the new 20mph roads in certain areas of towns across Scotland. Consider your speed on rural roads too. This is even more important in bad weather where your stopping distance will increase.
Check your tyres, brakes, windscreen and wipers are in working order and are free from defects, and check road conditions before setting off on your journey. Make sure your windows aren’t misted up and don’t have any snow or ice on them before setting off.
Last but definitely not least, stay alert. The dark evenings may mean that pedestrians and cyclists are not easily seen and weather conditions may alter your visibility. Check out this fun video to test your awareness.