Can you cycle on snow?

It’s the question that some British cyclists have been asking this week with the UK getting the sort of snow that Scandinavians and Canadians regard as a seasonal norm. As far as I can tell the simple answer is that you can if it is still falling and you’ve got some wide, soft tyres.

On the other hand, is it advisable to do so when the snow is falling heavily and the light is poor, resulting in low visibility? The answer to that is a definitive no as far as I’m concerned. For me the few people I saw struggling up the Uxbridge Road at 7am on Monday in shin-deep snow that was still falling fast enough to coat my winter coat were idiots.

As I tweeted @carltonreid on Monday

“If the first rule is “be safe” then anyone who cycled in London this morning was a bit of an idiot in my book.”

The more serious question though is why, in my area, both Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham councils failed to fully clear the road and grit properly on subsequent days as the snow melted and refroze as sheet ice, presenting a far more dangerous hazard for any road user but in particularly the more vulnerable two-wheeled ones.

I’ve been running my skinny tyres at as low a pressure as I can manage, something like 60 PSI to improve my chances of not coming off and commuting at a much slower pace than usual so that I can pick out hazards and plan ahead.

It’s been frustrating because I’ve been itching to get out after work (I’m on early shifts so finish at 3pm) and go for some two hour training rides round London. I’ve not risked it because it’s a genuine risk that as the light fades the roads become glistening ice rinks. Nobody thinking about these things sensibly wants to be approaching a roundabout in those conditions and worrying equally about staying upright or becoming a hood ornament.

By the sounds of things there’s more bad weather due towards the weekend, although I suspect it won’t arrive until Monday when I’ve got a day off and a long ride planned. Now that’s the way I roll.

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