Winter biking tips from Council Member Lisa Bender

Lisa Bender in her winter biking gear. 

City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10), who represents neighborhoods in the Uptown area, has joined the hearty ranks of the city’s winter bikers.

She recently sold her car and decided to keep biking through the coldest months of the year. She has outfitted her bike for winter conditions and bundles up in heavy layers for the icy treks to City Hall from her home in Uptown.

We asked her for tips to stay safe and warm while winter cycling.

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Q: What has motivated you to be a winter bike commuter?

I bike to work almost every day when it’s not snowing. About six years ago, I tried to bike through the winter but I didn’t have the right bicycle or tires. I fell down in front of a bus going down the hill on 24th Street near Lyndale. I was fine but it scared me so I stopped biking that winter and hadn’t tried since on snowy or icy days. I sold my car over the summer, so it’s either bicycle or bus now and I really prefer being out on my bicycle. There’s a great support community in Minneapolis for bicycling in general and also specifically among women who bicycle and I was able to get a lot of advice and support from people who’ve been biking year-round.

Q: How far do you typically bike in a day?

I bike from Uptown to downtown every day, and occasionally to meetings that take me a bit farther than my usual commute.

Q: What do you wear while biking on a sub-zero day?

From head to toe I wear a winter hat, helmet, ski goggles, neck gator and scarf, winter jacket, windproof pants and liner gloves with mittens. My toes have been getting cold but I’ve just been wearing wool socks with my regular shoes so I have to figure that one out.

Q: What kind of bike do you have?

I have four bicycles now! For winter I am riding a single-speed SE Bike with studded tires. My regular commuter is a Trek Allant. I ride a Specialized Dolce road bike for longer rides (usually after my kids are asleep) and then I have a Dutch Babboe cargo bike to ride with my 4- and 2-year-old daughters or to go grocery shopping.

Q: Did you have to outfit your bike for winter biking?

The folks at Varsity bikes helped me get a nice simple setup for my first winter. I didn’t want to spend a lot so I went with a basic bike with studded tires. I could have put winter tires on my regular commuter but would have probably had to replace a lot of parts.

Q: Any other tips for people thinking about winter biking?

I love winter biking! With the right bike and gear it is so fun. Biking is one of the only ways I have time to exercise with my schedule and family commitments. It is so beautiful biking on the Greenway or through Whittier and downtown after a snowfall. As we continue to build out our protected bikeway network, I hope more people who might not feel safe riding in traffic in the winter will get to experience the fun of winter cycling. I love seeing my constituents and neighbors when I’m out on the road and would be happy to help anyone who’s interested in winter cycling get started.