Bicycle Network: Skill Up
Reducing risk when riding in wet weather
Stay in the saddle in wet weather with these tips from bicycle commuter Lisa Dempster
If you use your bike to get around, chances are you'll end up being caught in wet weather at some point. As long as you're well prepared, riding in the rain doesn't have to dampen your spirits - but it is important to be aware of the potential hazards that wet weather can throw at you. Reduce risks by watching out for these danger zones.
- Your braking distance (the distance it takes for you to come to a complete stop) is increased in the wet, so allow more distance between you and other vehicles.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding.
- Steel rims don't work well for braking when they're wet, so be aware of this if your bike has them.
Slipping and sliding
Ride slowly and cautiously to avoid slipping and skidding. Think ahead and plan what actions you will take next.
Keep a closer eye on the road than you otherwise might, and avoid the following slippery things:
- white road-marking paint
- steel things, like tramlines or grates
- oil or mud on the road
- mysterious puddles - that might not be so mysterious if you find yourself sitting in one!
Be especially careful when turning. Take it slowly and avoid sudden or sharp turns, or you might find yourself skidding out of control.
- In dark or rainy conditions your visibility to motorists, pedestrians and other riders will be greatly reduced. Even lit up, you will be much harder to see, so make sure you're riding safely and signalling your intentions far in advance.
- Take extra care to make yourself highly visible to others. Dress in plain, bright colours. Yellow, green, white or orange are best. Avoid red, as it's hard to judge its distance and it looks dark at night.
- Don't be shy about lighting up - use your legally required lights and more! Add reflective tape to your clothes and bags, or invest in brightly coloured cycling gear, some of which comes with reflective strips on it. A safety vest is a good idea, as are reflective ankle straps. How about clipping multiple flashing LED lights to yourself and your bike?
- Don't let the rain get in your eyes or fog up your glasses - invest in a visor for your helmet.
- Try to avoid riding in the rain at night, as it's even harder for motorists to see you.
The golden rules of riding in the rain:
- Ride slowly
- Ride cautiously
- Light yourself up.