Tips & Resources

Cycling in storms

You’re not made of sugar, so a bit of rain is not going to melt you, but cycling in storms has risks that riders should be aware of.

Reduced visibility for drivers is a risk when cycling in storms

Visibility

Storm conditions challenge everyone’s ability to see, through reduced light and – when the downpour is heavy enough – from the sheer density of rain drops. This is particularly a problem for drivers whose vehicle windows can be obscured by a deluge of rain.

Bike riders must, therefore, be aware that vehicle drivers will have much reduced ability to see cyclists on the road. Riders must slow down and ride defensively, anticipating that they may not be seen.

To increase their visibility, people who ride bikes must display lights and should use any other visibility aids they might carry, such as reflective elements.

Slippery conditions

Water on roads creates slippery conditions, mostly from oil dripped from motor vehicles. You might see rainbow oil slicks here and there but you should assume that the roads could be slippery, especially just after the rain has started and before the volume of water has cleaned the road surface. Riders must slow down, particularly for corners, and squeeze the brakes gently.

Water also makes metal surfaces slippery, such as grates, access covers and train and tram tracks. Don’t swerve to avoid metal surfaces, which could cause a collision. Instead cease pedalling and glide straight over the metal. Braking, pedalling and turning on the metal surface can cause you to lose traction. Tracks should be crossed at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.

Road-marking paint was once a slipping hazard but these days it should include sand or a similar material to provide traction.

Slippery roads are a risk when cycling in storms
Cycling in storms has risks that riders should be aware of

Lightning

Thunder means lightning and lightning strikes are potential killers. When you hear thunder, lightning is in your vicinity and the best thing to do is get inside a substantial building. Sheds, tents and the like are no protection against lightning.

Do not shelter under a tree because a lightning strike seeks tall things to conduct through. Avoid metal poles, fences and cables, which also readily conduct electricity and immediately get away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water, and wet items such as ropes.

Avoid open fields, the tops of hills or ridge tops. If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members.

Electrical build up lingers, so you should wait 30 minutes after a storm passes to go outside again.

People can survive being struck by lightning. First aiders must begin CPR immediately. The heart might re-start itself but the breathing usually does not.

Flood waters

Heavy rain can overwhelm the capacity of storm water drains, resulting in water flowing over roads and paths. This water is an obstacle to riding in itself, creating a drag on the wheels, and the water can also carry debris that creates a hazard. Riders should avoid riding through water.  

Heavy rainfall creates the risk of flash flooding from storm water run-off. Bike routes along waterways in particular can become impassable and should not be used.

A number of popular bike routes could be flooded for the next few days as Victoria is deluged by record-breaking rainfall.

Want to hear more?

Subscribe and keep up to date with the latest bike riding news

Subscribe

Tips & Resources

More handy information

Ride with confidence

Know the rules and best ways to reduce your risks and ride with confidence.

Winter fit

Cycle coach David Heatley gives a great insight into how to use your winter riding to keep your training on track and gear up for spring events.

Dealing with conflict

Aggressive driving behaviour puts all road users at risk. Here are the best approaches to deal with conflict on the road.