Everything You Need (& Need to Know!) for Winter Cycling

February 7, 2024

This Friday, February 9 is Winter Bike to Work Day, a celebration of commuting by bicycle, even in the colder months. Here at the Downtown Denver Partnership, we’re passionate about multimodal commuting, and many of our team members are seasoned cyclists. New to winter biking, or looking to make your commute more comfortable? Look no further – our team has compiled advice and go-to gear to get you ready for Winter Bike to Work Day and all of your winter commutes ahead!

Advice from an All-Weather Cyclist

By Andrew Iltis, Vice President, Urban Planning & Community Impact

“Over the last 4 years of exclusively biking through rain, snow and shine I have learned to follow a couple of guiding principles. Winter bike commuting comfort is a personal journey – you will learn a lot as you go, but some key factors are at play:

  • Slipping on ice will happen with very little warning. There are so few slippery days in Denver, I hesitate to recommend a full conversion to studded tires in the winter unless biking is your only option. Denver does a better and better job of clearing bike lanes (often before plowing the street!) First and foremost, BE SAFE!
  • The length of your commute matters. It takes me about 7-10 minutes of hard pedaling to get warmed up (not including time sitting at traffic signals). You should judge your overall temperature after that “warm-up” time because if you are like me, you will get way too hot and even a tiny bit of sweating can make you cold in the winter. Maybe have an option to shed a layer if your commute is on the long side.
  • Small adjustments in layers make a difference. I have several combinations that work for small temperature changes – most of my top layers are soft shells with a lot of breathability – until it gets cold enough to don the insulated down jacket with more wind protection. Again, it will be different for everyone, but I typically dont use a down jacket or winter shell until it is in the low teens.
  • Enjoy being outside! The best part about winter bike commuting (and bike commuting in general) is getting to spend more time outdoors. Because of using a bike to get to work, I automatically spend 40-50 minutes outside EVERY DAY. Some days feel more adventurous than others, and the exercise is always good, but at its core – fresh air is good for the soul. “

Go-To Gear for your Winter Ride

Recommended by Amanda Miller, Manager, Sustainability Initiatives; Carolyn Levine, Manager, Civic Engagement & Development; Chantel Albee, Senior Manager, Denver Startup Week & Civic Engagement; and Max Gesten, Specialist, Community Impact & Mobility

  • First and foremost, always wear a helmet – no matter the weather (pro-tip: stop by Mike’s Bikes at 15th & Wynkoop for all your cycling needs!)
  •  Adding fenders to your bike will protect you and your clothing from unwanted splashes on the road.
  • Windproof gloves are a must-have, and we also love handlebar mittens (these can be picked up from the downtown REI Flagship store).
  • It’s important to stay visible – especially with early sunsets – ensure you have bike lights and consider a bright-colored jacket (check out Topo Designs at Market Station or Cotopaxi at Larimer Square for winter brights!)

Be sure to pledge to ride this Winter Bike to Work Day, and we hope to see you in the bike lanes soon!