Lighten up – it’s only winter cycling

cycling lights

Cycling through winter has always been a great way to maintain fitness levels and avoid coughs and colds. If you are concerned by inclement weather, consider the pioneer adventure cyclists of the 1890s, who took to the snowy wilds of northern Canada without the benefit of modern clothing and 80 years before the advent of mountain bikes.

The Great Gold Rush in the late 1890s drew 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1896 and 1899. Those who didn’t have the money to invest in dog teams used bicycles and rudimentary cold weather gear.

cyclist winter circa 1900

Hardy soul: The front cover of ‘Wheels on Ice’, Terrence Cole’s account of Alaskan cycling at the turn of the twentieth century

19-year-old Max Hirschberg chose to use a bicycle when he joined the gold rush in 1900. His journal gives a fascinating insight into the cold weather gear of the day:

“The day I left Dawson, March 2, 1900, was clear and crisp, 30° below zero. I was dressed in a flannel shirt, heavy fleece-lined overalls, a heavy mackinaw coat, a drill parka, two pairs of heavy woollen socks and felt high-top shoes, a fur cap that I pulled down over my ears, a fur nosepiece, plus fur gauntlet gloves. On the handlebars of the bicycle I strapped a large fur robe. Fastened to the springs, back of the seat, was a canvas sack containing a heavy shirt, socks, underwear, a diary in waterproof covering, pencils and several blocks of sulfur matches. In my pockets I carried a penknife and a watch.”

Cyclists today have the choice of a bewildering choice of technical winter cycling gear. Base layers and lightweight breathable waterproof tops have revolutionised winter riding. Another welcome development has been the advent of LED lighting, which has brought cheap, powerful and reliable cycle lighting to the masses.

Kingston Council has produced a short video to promote the use of lights and offered us six sets of LED lights (pictured above) to give away. If you would like a set, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Ethical cycle insurance

Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, they devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. No wonder The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be Britain’s most ethical insurance company.


Comments

  1. Charles

    Reply

    Perfect lights for my sons travel to/from school in the winter!

  2. Kath H

    Reply

    These look handy little lights

  3. John thys

    Reply

    Light of my life

  4. Keith

    Reply

    I’v seen the light, brighten my day!

  5. Richard

    Reply

    Getting these would brighten me up ..

  6. johnny faro

    Reply

    Kingston council? Because my daughter wouldn’t use lights even if I tried Jamaica…….(sorry)

  7. Ann Marie Wrigley

    Reply

    Seeing and being seen is so vital.

  8. David Mayers

    Reply

    The more lights you show the better. Many drivers struggle to see most cyclists in the dark – these would help a lot

  9. Claire

    Reply

    Yes please!

  10. robert p Griffiths-garrod

    Reply

    just what i need +funds are short this month

  11. Sam Phillips

    Reply

    Very good to hear of such and enlightened Council.

  12. KIRSTY NORTH-WILD

    Reply

    Help me look like mobile Blackpool Illuminations……….

  13. John Collier

    Reply

    I am 93 and a nervous traveller. The more lights the better.

  14. Kris

    Reply

    These look great! I’d love some

  15. Anthony

    Reply

    Useful for backup, but these take the likes of non-rechargeable CR2032s. The lights I’ve got have rechargeable AAAs.

  16. Philip

    Reply

    Fair point Anthony.

    However, CR2032’s are very small and lightweight so you can carry a number of spares without noticing the difference.

    A quick search on Amazon Prime as I type shows a price of £5.99 for 20 batteries (30p each.)
    I cannot provide information as to how long they will last when cycling, but I would expect longevity would be good.

  17. John Hoare

    Reply

    Back in the the old days cyclists were hard

  18. Jamie J

    Reply

    Illuminating…

  19. Iain

    Reply

    The batteries do last a long time and these are great backup lights.

  20. Steve K

    Reply

    We could do with something to brighten things a little …

  21. Paul R

    Reply

    Great to see promotion of safer cycling with easy to use rechargeable lights. I use my lights day and night all year round then it is just a habit with no need to change anything when winter comes. Good lights like these especially useful for places like river path and Richmond Park which are darker than most streets.

  22. Susan

    Reply

    Forever hopeful

  23. Huw Thomas

    Reply

    Be seen !

  24. Peter

    Reply

    See me with these!

  25. Matt blackmore

    Reply

    Loving the sound of some new lights!!!

  26. Helen

    Reply

    Oh please, some lights.

  27. Kathy C

    Reply

    These lights look fab and we need to spread the word about the 5 tips. I can’t believe the number of people I see riding with no lights and no light jackets!

  28. Su

    Reply

    These are snazzy little lights that will help to ‘go’ through the winter.

  29. Peter Clark

    Reply

    You can never have too many lights

  30. Craig

    Reply

    Please help me develop my “cycling Christmas tree” look ETA?!

    Thanks for the opportunity

  31. MARK

    Reply

    Very nice offer. I’ve been encouraging pedestrians who walk on unlit cycle paths to also wear lights at night. These would be perfect. SAFETY FIRST!!!

    Mark

  32. Rory Harkins

    Reply

    Yes please!

  33. Chris Matheson

    Reply

    Very simple but essential advice and some swanky looking lights to carry it out too!

  34. Toby James

    Reply

    More lights are always good

  35. Jane Collier

    Reply

    Well done Kingston Council, more boroughs should do this. Alarming to see how some cyclists think it’s ok to ride without lights at night.

  36. Peter Chisnall

    Reply

    Blinding!

  37. Wynn James

    Reply

    First time I’d ever have a really decent set of winter lights.

  38. Hollie

    Reply

    The more lights the better! Bringing a little disco action to the early morning commute.

  39. Iain Shanks

    Reply

    Lighten up.

  40. Stevo

    Reply

    These look like nice “to be seen” lights, well done ETA

  41. Gillian Watling

    Reply

    I really love the elastic band attachments, so much easier to fit and way more flexible than the solid plastic brackets

  42. James Russell

    Reply

    My son would love these. Complained yesterday that I had lights on my bike, and he didn’t.

  43. Bryn Gwyndaf Jones

    Reply

    Brilliant!

  44. Mark B

    Reply

    Perfect for my daughter. Yes please

  45. Darren C

    Reply

    I can never miss a chance of getting more lights, replacing older scratched or weathered ones is always welcome.

  46. Vick

    Reply

    Be seen, be safe!

  47. Cleatclicker

    Reply

    what’s not to light

  48. Stephen D.

    Reply

    These would be nice backup lights to my main ones, which are essential.

  49. Arabella

    Reply

    More lights please!

  50. Joanne

    Reply

    We’ve just moved house and increased hubby’s cycle commute considerably just in time for winter but it’s his birthday next week so these would be a winner 🙂

  51. Karl Wallendszus

    Reply

    These look great as an emergency backup.

  52. Paul

    Reply

    Yes please!

  53. Douglas Milsom

    Reply

    Hope that I’m not to late to enter! These would also be good for night time training runs.

  54. Peter G

    Reply

    Think I will need to use these during daytime to prevent another idiot pulling out and then saying ‘I didn’t see you’

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