Cycling in the rain
In traffic, rain means danger:
- drivers can’t see you
- your brakes won’t work so well
- a dynamo will slip, reducing the brightness of your lights
- wet surfaces are slippery and cause dazzle
- you’ll probably be in a hurry to get out of the rain.
So take it easy and concentrate on your riding. If you do ride in the rain you will need rain-gear to keep you warm if not dry. Rain-gear should be comfortable and well ventilated – you will be working hard inside it and the sweat needs to get out somewhere. It should be spacious enough to allow you to move freely and to take it on and off readily, but not so big as to blow about in the wind. Make sure your rain-gear is brightly coloured – yellow is best, red tends to look black at night. Reflective stripes can greatly increase your visibility.
Your bicycle will need extra maintenance. Rain washes the oil out of the chain, and road grime will ruin bearings and chains quickly. Consider a chain cover and hub gears if you are going to make a habit of riding in the wet. Aluminium rims provide better wet weather breaking, though stopping distances can still be double those in dry weather. Synthetic brake blocks can improve performance, particularly on steel rims, though aluminium rims will still be better.
Be seen and heard on your bike
Dress in plain bright colours. Yellow, light green and orange are best. Avoid red because it is hard to judge its distance and at night-time it looks black. Ideally, one glance by a car driver should be enough to tell that:
- you are a cyclist
- how far away you are.
Don’t hug the kerb or parked cars. You will be seen better, see better, and have a better margin for error if you are a metre out from the kerb. You will have a chance to avoid opening car doors. bumpy edges, broken glass and unpredictable pedestrians and dogs.
Give clear signals when stopping, changing lanes, or turning. Don’t be hesitant – motorists are more likely to treat you as another vehicle (which you are) if you behave like one.
Reflectors are essential for dusk and night riding and two are required on all bikes: white on front and red at the rear. Reflectors that move are very visible – on your pedals to be seen from the front and back. and in the wheels so you can be seen clearly from the sides. Reflective tape on your wrists. ankles and jacket all help you to be seen and avoided.
A bell can be useful. particularly on the cycleways where blind corners and tunnels abound.
Refer to Pedal Power ACT’s position statement on bike safety and the wearing of bicycle helmets when riding.