DIY, bike Buffs

Community Cycles offers a wheel-building class once every few months. They'll even teach you how to make your own snow tires. Check out communitycycles.org for an updated schedule.

T he sun is setting earlier, the temperature is dropping, yet here you are attempting to be especially green and adventurous while continuing to commute by bike this winter.

The world thanks you for your eco-friendly decision, but there are a few things you should know before hopping on your two-wheeler after dark and in the snow.

We caught up with Community Cycles advocacy director Sue Prant to get the scoop on winterizing your bike.

"It doesn't mean you have to put your bike away," Prant said. "You can still get some nice riding days in, just remember to have your lights with you."

It's the law

It is in fact the law that your bike must have a red reflector on the back and a white light on the front.

The City of Boulder law states that "between sunset and sunrise," you cannot cycle unless you are "clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead" unless you have a light.

Boulder gets plenty of visitors, new students and new residents each year, Prant said, so at any given time there are tons of new cyclists on the roads who aren't aware of the bicycle laws.


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Read up on local laws here: http://colocode.com/boulder2/chapter7-5.htm

Lights: a bare minimum

If you'd like to be alive come spring, Prant advises cyclists to go above and beyond the rear reflector andfront light laws.

"We encourage going beyond that," she said. "If you're riding at night, if it's something you do every day, get a jacket with reflectors, seats with a reflective back to it."

She also recommended purchasing a roll of reflective tape to stripe other parts of the bike and your clothing.

Some tires come with reflective strips built in so drivers can see the bicycle as it crosses in front of them when the front and back lights aren't visible.

And all of these "extras" are relatively cheap. Prant said all of these items can be purchased for less than $100 and will last for several winters.

Plan ahead

Sure, the sun is shining when you leave for class or work each morning. But during the longest days of winter, the sun sets around 4:30 p.m. which means you'll be riding in the dark.

Pack a bag with all of your reflective items and leave it by the door so you don't forget on your way out into the sunshine each morning. That way, you aren't screwed when you head home.

"It requires a whole different mindset," Prant said.

Ride smart

"Any illegal, stupid move you make on a bike during the day is going to be that much more amplified at night," Prant said.

So don't be an idiot.

Also, don't assume that everyone else on the road is ready for you to be cycling at night, she said. It's not a guarantee that cars will stop for you, she said.

Also, if weather conditions are crappy, commute smarter and just hop on the bus. Chances are, if you're eco-friendly, you have a bus pass anyway or can spare the extra few dollars -- and you can take your bike on the bus, too.

"You could ride to work and say it snows six inches, you need to take the bus home," Prant said.