As spring winds down and summer arrives, more and more bicyclists can be found commuting to work or riding for leisure. Warmer weather brings people outside, however, it may also bring rain. Traveling in the rain increases safety risks for all users. It is important for bicyclists to dress appropriately and take additional precautions in order to be safe in inclement weather.
1. Dress Appropriately
Wear water protective gear, such as a jacket and pants that will repel water. Unfortunately, because water gear frequently does not breathe well and can lead to overheating so, a non-cotton base layer is also recommended to keep sweat from sticking. This will prevent damp clothing and potential illness.
2. Protective Eyewear
Walking in the rain can prove difficult, thus riding through the rain at a quicker pace can create vision impairment. It is important to wear clear or lightly tinted glasses when riding in the rain to prevent vision impairment. A brimmed hood can also limit the amount of water directly hitting the face.
3. Waterproof Bag
For commuters, a waterproof bag is essential. Not only does it hold personal items such as a phone and wallet that should not get wet, it also may contain a change of clothes. A simple waterproof covering can protect the bag and all of its contents.
4. Watch for Puddles
Wearing protective gear is important, but taking precaution while riding your bicycle is also vital. When it rains, water puddles on roadways, frequently where bicyclists ride. These puddles may disguise potholes or other roadway hazards making riding conditions very dangerous. In addition, rain falling on roadways where oil has built up can create slicker surfaces for automobiles and bicyclists. Bicyclists need to be cautious when going around corners in order to avoid slick patches.
5. Brake Pads
Just like in a car, it is best to begin braking sooner in inclement weather. It takes longer for the brakes to stop the bike because water makes the tires slicker. In addition, rubber brake pads tend to erode quicker in the rain and may need replacement more frequently.
Even when it is not raining, water can splash up onto the rider. For instance, if it is not currently raining, but was raining earlier in the day, the ground will be wet and bike tires will splash up water. An easy way to stay dry without wearing all of your protective raingear is to put fenders on the front and back tires of your bicycle, which will prevent water rotating on the tires from splashing onto you.
7. Bike Lights
Visibility decreases in the rain for all types of transportation. It is important to turn on bike lights in the day and night when there is low visibility. Wearing reflective clothing can also improve visibility.
8. Rain Bike
If riding in the rain is a common habit, then having a bike to use specifically for rainy weather may be beneficial. Rain can cause bike chains to rust and brake pads to deteriorate quicker. A less expensive bike, can be used in poor weather conditions in order to better maintain more expensive bikes that cost more to replace.
NJDOT adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2009 in order to create safe transportation access for all users. This access extends into inclement weather as well. Complete Streets slow traffic which minimizes splashing that may discourage bicyclists or pedestrians from using certain corridors in the rain, and it also reduces speeds, increasing visibility and safety when weather conditions are not ideal.