Vancouver is becoming as well-known for its cycling culture as it is for its rain. But what happens when the two intersect? Yes, slick roads and cold, wet commutes are part of it. But just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to lock up your bike for the season.

We have an extensive network of bike lanes and thousands are commuting by bike every day. Biking in the cold Vancouver rain does require some changes in the way you prepare and cycle. Here are five quick tips to keep you safe in the rain.

Dress for the rain

Being cold and damp is neither fun nor comfortable. Wear waterproof clothing and footwear to keep dry and wick any wet off you. Use a light backpack or a panier (or bike basket) to carry a change of clothing and keep something on hand in case the weather changes. While they can cover you in a pinch, do be cautious when using a rain poncho – keep them clear of your gears and chain so they don’t snag and suddenly seize up your bike.

Light up your way

Make sure you have a bright white light for your bike or helmet. In Vancouver, it’s the law. The light does two very important things. First, it helps with your visibility. Rain can reduce your ability to see and it gets worse if it is dark or foggy. Second, a light lets pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists see you.

Slippery when wet

You should always plan out your route but if you’re a daily bike commuter, you probably have the same route every day. On drier days, take note of the surfaces you’re biking on. Things like grates, manhole covers, and painted markings all become slick when wet. Know where they are on your route and adjust your speed when you approach them.

Cycling over the rainbows

You know those little rainbow-hued patches that pop up on pavement when the rain starts to fall. That’s oil and gas residue from the asphalt and passing cars. They can be very slippery so keep an eye out avoid hard braking when you’re cycling through them.

Maintain your bike

Keep your bike maintained and in good working order. That means checking brake pads and brake lines, making sure reflectors and lights are working and clear of dirt, and that the chain is well-oiled. Also, slightly deflate your tires. This will extend the width of the tire, giving it more surface contact and greater grip on the road.

For more information

International Winter Bike to Work Day and four Canadian cities – Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton – scored in the top ten for participation. Click here to see an impressive map of all the riders.

For some Vancouver cyclists, the winter season signals the end of outdoor cycling. Here are some tips to help keep cyclists on the road during winter.

  1. Cyclists should adjust their mindset when it comes to winter cycling.
  2. Cyclists should prepare for icy road conditions by installing studded winter tires. They are a lot more affordable today than in the past. You can also buy tire liners to reduce tire punctures.
  3. Winter cyclists should dress the same way they would for a walk in icy conditions. There’s no need to invest in expensive clothes. Cyclists should always keep their hands, feet and neck warm due to the added wind chill.
  4. Cyclists should ensure their brake pads are fully functioning. The rubber on the brake pads wears down quickly during cooler temperatures. Cyclists should also ensure their chain is working properly as it can wear down in winter conditions as well.
  5. Cyclists may not like this idea but it’s good to invest in a good pair of fenders to stay safe during the winter months. They keep spray and mud away from a cyclist’s face.
  6. All cyclists should make sure their bicycle’s front and back lights are working properly. In BC, a cyclist can be fined up to $109 for not having lights on the front and back of their bike.

School’s out for the summer! Vancouver children are enjoying their freedom by riding their bicycles all day. You’ll see children cycling on city and suburban streets, trails, bridges, and seawalls.

According to the City of Surrey, over 50,000 Canadians sustained brain injuries in 2012 and these injuries involved both adults and children. Head injuries are also the leading cause of serious injury and death to kids on bicycles.

Here are some bike helmet safety tips for children.

  1. The helmet should sit two fingers’ width above your child’s eyebrows. Your child should be able to look up and see the helmet on their forehead and the helmet should sit level on their head. Your child’s head is not protected if the helmet is tipped back.
  2. The helmet straps should form a “V” under your child’s ears. This positioning helps keep the helmet in the proper position.
  3. There should be one finger space between their chin and the strap. This means there should be just enough room to ensure they don’t get pinched when you are strapping the helmet on.
  4. The helmet should not slide around on you child’s head and it should fit snugly.

A new map to help cyclists plan a safe route is now live.

BikeMaps.org allows injured cyclists to indicate dangerous curbs or turns as a warning to other cyclists. The map indicates hot spots for bike theft, collision reports, cyclist hazards and citizen near miss reports. Participation is quick, anonymous, and is done by pinning a marker on the online map.

Trisalyn Nelson, an avid cyclist, geographer, and Lansdowne research chair of spatial sciences at the University of Victoria, began the project. In the first few days of the pilot project, more than 150 reports have been filed across Canada, the US and as far as Finland.

Although BikeMaps began as a local initiative, Nelson hopes that the map becomes a global resource and remedy safety fear, “the number one deterrent” to new cyclists. The city of Victoria will be looking to the map to help indicate where to invest in cycling infrastructure.

Cycling in Cities is a research program at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population & Public Health. The goal of the program is to create useful tools for policy-makers, planners, and the public to evaluate the “bikability” of their city. Included in the research program is the BICE Study  that looks closely at the trip and personal characteristics of injured cyclists.

The BICE Study surveyed 690 adults injured while cycling in Toronto and Vancouver. Data collected included trip characteristics like weather conditions, season, time of day, and personal characteristics like age, sex, and education.