Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bicycle Safety 101: Riding in the Rain

It's cold and wet today. Not the kind of day that inspires bike riding. To help focus some gloomy weekend weather blues, I've got a few tips about riding in wet weather. Rain doesn't deter the hard-core riders, and, with a little preparation, it doesn't have to stop you, too. There are some key things to remember:
  1. Be smart. Sometimes it's just too dang wet to ride. Ever come to a sliding stop on wet pavement? Brakes don't work the same way when it's wet out. It's better to be safe than sorry, so, sometimes it's best to put the bike up for another day. If you're stuck, phone a friend, catch a bus, hail a taxi, walk or use an emergency ride home program that your employer might have available to you.
  2. Use your lights. In previous posts, I've talked about the importance of front and rear lights to be seen. Especially when riding in mixed-traffic in poor weather, lights are used to be seen and not as much as to see. Wearing reflective material is another way to increase your visibility to others on the road in adverse weather. When rain, snow, fog or other weather conditions hit, flip on those lights!
  3. Have rain gear. Usually I'm not all about having "gear" to ride, but having a rain jacket will keep you dry. Bring an extra pair of shoes and socks if you'll be at your destination for a while. If you're really committed to all-weather riding, rain pants are also a good investment. With a little foresight, arriving to your destination drenched can be avoided.
  4. Have plastic bags on hand. Plastic bags are versatile, easy to keep on hand and are a cyclists best friend in keeping things dry. Putting a plastic bag over a bike seat will keep it dry even in the hardest of downpours. Reusing the grocery store plastic bags have been a life saver for me! They can also be used to cover electronics, clothes and other things you might stash in a bag and bring with you while you're out and about. Think about keeping a few of these on hand in a desk, jacket or bag.
Over the years, I have ridden to work in the rain, but not always. I keep an eye on the weather, and have a flexible attitude toward my decision to ride. These tips can help you be better prepared to handle wet weather and bike riding. 

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