In the Fort Lauderdale area, the weather is warm enough to ride bicycles all year long. Just because the weather is warm, however, does not mean it is favorable. Wind, rain, and other weather conditions can make cycling hazardous, often on short notice.
Whether you are planning to ride in inclement weather or you get caught in a sudden storm while trying to get home, here are a few tips for bike riding in bad weather. Keeping safety in mind could help avoid or reduce the severity of a bike accident.
How to Handle Hazards
The roads around Florida are busy and often uneven and filled with debris. During rainy or windy conditions, potential hazards pose even more of a danger than usual. To avoid bicycle accidents, it can be helpful to:
- Beware of standing water. Riding through standing water can not only soak a bike rider but also subjects the rider to the risk of hitting something concealed, like a huge pothole. Riders must take care when avoiding water because other vehicles like cars and motorcycles may be taking similar evasive action.
- Drive straight across drain covers. If there is no room to maneuver around drain covers, ride across the cover in a straight line. Bike riders should focus on the road ahead and try to avoid looking down at hazards.
- Avoid debris. Rain and wind usually bring down extra debris. It may be necessary to ride closer toward the center of the road to avoid riding on debris, but the tradeoff is worth it so long as riders take extra care to avoid collisions.
- Start braking earlier. Particularly when entering a corner, it is good to start braking earlier than usual and maintain steady pressure on the brakes rather than braking suddenly, which can lead to a skid.
- Avoid riding on road paint. Road paint, such as the lines marking the edge of the road, can be slippery in wet conditions.
- Relax shoulders and elbows when riding in gusty wind. Trying to maintain a tight grip on the handlebars can prevent the wheel from moving slightly in a crosswind, making the bike more difficult to handle.
Bike riders on the roads in bad weather also should allow more room around vehicles if possible.
Visibility Problems for Bike Riders
It can be much harder to see while riding in the rain, especially at night. However, the reduction in visibility for bike riders is often much less than it is for vehicles with a windshield, particularly when drivers are negligent about maintaining or operating their wipers.
To avoid being hit, bike riders should turn on lights in the front and rear while riding in the rain, even if it is not dark. Flashing lights make a bicycle even more visible to motorists than a static glow.
Prepare for Bad Weather if Possible
Bicyclists who expect to be out in bad weather can help protect themselves by taking preparatory measures. For instance, reducing pressure in the tires by about 10 p.s.i. can give bike tires more grip on the road.
Equipment to consider includes:
- Waterproof jacket to avoid waterlogging and distraction
- Mud flaps to reduce water on legs and feet
- Cycling cap under a helmet to help keep the rain out of the eyes
Additionally, it is good to use a degreaser on the bike chain after a wet ride and check tires for sharp debris.
If a Bicycle Accident Occurs, the Weather May Not Be the Only Cause
While the weather can add to the hazards of riding a bicycle, bad weather is usually not the only cause of a bike accident. If you were injured because of someone’s irresponsible behavior, another person could be held liable and required to provide compensation to make up for your pain and other losses. Contact a bike accident lawyer to learn more.