Northwest winters are dark and often times wet. If that isn’t bad enough, the wet roads will sometimes freeze, creating areas of black ice. The combination of darkness with patches of ice make it very difficult to identify and navigate safe pavement during a bicycle commute. A patch of black ice can quickly throw a road bicyclist to the ground, risking possible fractures, concussion, muscle strains and contusions. I have my annual victims of black ice come through the office in the November through March periods of time.
Ice may be simply avoided by having temperature standards for your rides. The use of internet based weather reporting sites can help you determine the temperature safety of your commute route.
Bicycle riding around the greater Seattle area can have temperature swings of 5-10 degrees F. This can be the difference between frozen and thawed. Just because it is above freezing at your house doesn’t mean conditions might be the same down the road.
You should use caution with your bike commute when the overnight temperature has been below or near freezing. A fall can result in a serious injury, taking you off of your bike for a long period of time. The “bummer” of taking a day off due to possible freezing temperatures far outweighs the “bummer” of a fracture, concussion, or road rash.