Tips for Operating a Bike Share in the Winter


It’s a quiet season for bike-sharing here in the midwest, but it doesn’t have to be! If it’s warm enough outside to bike in your community, we envy you. If you are located in a climate that has harsher winter months, we have compiled some tips to help you store and maintain your bicycles.

If you’re storing your bicycles...

  • Ride your bikes first! Riding your bikes will ensure they are functioning properly. This is a very easy way to identify any obvious issues.

  • Store in a clean, dry place. If you don’t have space already, we suggest renting a storage unit in the winter months or finding a business or individual you can trust to store your bikes in a safe location. There are many options available for making the most out of storage units, and you can choose to hang, mount, hoist, or simply park your bikes.

  • Thoroughly clean all of your bikes. Take a soft bristled brush and chip away all dirt and dust from the bikes, including the tires. After this, you should wipe down all bike parts with a rag and make sure to remove all grease and grime that has accumulated around the drive train or other areas where lubrication can attract dirt.  

While you are wiping down a bike, it will give you a good chance to inspect the frame and other parts that get heavy use in warmer months. Look for any signs of cracks or metal fatigue, particularly near weld spots and on the bottom bracket, which supports a lot of your weight and can be subject to wear and tear.

  • Condition upholstery. We suggest Armor-All for your seat, handgrips, and tires to give it a nice clean appearance when the bikes are ready to be pulled out in the spring.

While you’re wiping down your tires, be sure to check your wheels for loose or broken spokes. Spin the wheels and look to make sure that they still spin straight with no veering from side to side or against the brake pads. If your wheels don’t spin straight, it’s probably time for a check-up.

If you prefer to weather the cold…

  • Clean the bikes twice as often. Snow and slush can cause rust to form on chains and frames. Ice, sand, and salt can stick to your rims and cause wear along with poor brake performance. If it is worth it to you to provide the system during rain or snow, it is paramount that you maintain your bikes more frequently to protect your investment.

  • Encourage the use of reflective gear and proper outerwear. Although many people are becoming used to the idea of biking in the winter, there are some that may never suspect cyclists. Using signage to encourage wearing safety gear, such as reflective vests or bands around legs and arms, helmets, and clothing that is both warm and close to the body.

  • Keep bike lanes clean! This is an obvious one, but the best way to ensure the safety of your cyclists. Inform street cleaning crews about the importance of maintaining bike lanes. Encourage riders to use bike lanes over slushy streets whenever possible.

  • Market your winter KoloniShare program properly. Encouraging biking in the winter poses its own challenges, so some find it helpful to incorporate into normal winter festivities, such as holiday drives, or partner with other biking or outdoor recreation organizations.

Brian Dewey