|Loving the cold, crisp bike rides home on peaceful lanes.|
I ride for transportation only, in the winter. Unlike last year's distinct lack of snowfall where it was easy to dip my toes into winter biking and avoid slippery surfaces, this December feels more like a normal Vermont winter with regular snow fall and so far, 4-6" of accumulation. If I'm to bike at all, I pay careful attention to the forecast, in-house weather station, and as last confirmation - peeks outside our window - before I decide whether to ride, drive the car, or take a bus 5 miles to my workplace. I can think of 3 times this month when my pannier was packed and just before I headed out the door a squall deposited enough snow to cover the ground.
I love the snow. I love to cross-country ski, which I've been able to do once already this season. But I also love to ride, and after having a taste of winter riding last year, I want to commute more when dry pathways prevail. The alternative is walking 30 minutes to catch a bus that takes another 20-25 minutes to drop me near my office. Driving our one available car takes 20-25 minutes, but I must share the vehicle with my husband (plus I feel guilty for using our vehicle when he is a regular bus rider). Riding my bike takes 25-30 minutes, plus I allow an extra 5-10 minutes to negotiate any dangerous areas.
I thought I would embrace bus travel. After all, part of working closer to home meant I could leave the car behind and take alternative transportation. But, after several bus trips and driving as many days this month, I've come to realize how much I dislike both modes of transportation for the busy region I navigate, especially the journey home which necessitates enduring stop and go traffic for a mile without an easy way to avoid the messy corridor. In my previous job, without a bus route, the decision was made for me, I had to drive during the darker months from November to March on rural roads, whether I liked it or not.
Now, with transportation choices (and I'm happy to finally have them!) I'd still rather ride my bike because I am in control: I'm free to ride on quiet residential streets, little used paths, through city parks and in open fields - away from noisy automobiles. And, I love riding in the dark with snow as my guide, edging the paved trail. I do have to be careful though and make responsible, safe transportation choices because I have a tendency to avoid car and bus travel even when it may be too slippery to safely ride a bike.
So, as we slide by the winter solstice and days become longer, and my personal bike barometer (temperatures 0F and above, 90% dry paths) allows me to bike commute, you can bet I'll be outside bedecked in balaclava and down parka, expanding my winter horizons.