Cycling In Inclement Weather

Some cycling enthusiasts say there is no such thing as “bad biking weather.” Dedicated bicyclists aren’t going to let something like a little rain or snow get in the way of a good ride. On the other hand, commuting bikers may prefer to avoidance, but have no choice but to power through it.

It’s important to remember that even if you enjoy the elements, biking in inclement weather can be hazardous if you aren’t prepared.

The Boston bicycle accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com know anyone who rides outdoors in the Northeast has to be prepared for the possibility of less-than-ideal weather conditions.

You have to anticipate the way that’s going to affect your safety, and be ready for it.

Riding in Rain

The biggest hazards when riding a bicycle in the rain are:

  • Slick road surfaces
  • Large puddles
  • Low visibility
  • Reduced bicycle brake capabilities

These are all situations that can jeopardize a cyclist’s safety. Not only is it tougher for cyclists to navigate these circumstances, but it’s harder for drivers to see them – an issue that’s already a significant problem to begin with.

Some tips for cyclists to keep in mind:

  • Because the visibility is low, you’ll want to wear bright or neon colors (this works in dim conditions, but not when it’s dark.
  • Make sure your bicycle is equipped with lots of bright reflectors and lights in the front, rear and sides of your bike. Wear reflective gear on your body as well.
  • Look into putting fenders on your front and rear wheels, which will help keep water the water on the road from splashing up onto you, and may also help to keep dirt and other debris from getting caught in the gears and chain.
  • Understand that bicycle brakes don’t work as well when they are soaking wet. It’s a good reason to take it slower and make sure you give yourself ample time to stop.
  • Watch out for puddles and avoid them if you can. Even smaller ones can hide things like glass, nails or other debris that could slash your tires or cause you to crash.
  • Know that certain surfaces – particularly brick, painted surfaces and metal – are extremely slippery in the rain. Use caution.

Finally, remember that while humans are water resistant, your bicycle isn’t. Take a few minutes after your ride to wipe down the chain and maybe put some lubricant on the bicycle. This will help to extend the life of the bicycle and keep it in safe working order for years to come.

Riding in Snow

There are a lot of people in Boston who pedal year-round to work or school on city streets and trails that are plowed.

The average seasonal snowfall at Logan Airport is 43.5 inches, though during the 2014-2015 season, the location recorded an astonishing 110.6 inches.

As long as cyclists have the right clothing and equipment, it can make a lot of sense to continue riding through the cold season. In a snowstorm, for example, cyclists can get to their destination faster than motor vehicles stuck in jammed traffic.

On the other hand, it gets darker earlier in the winter as it is, and snowdrifts can result in lanes that are even further narrowed. Motorists may be even less on the lookout for riders than normal. Bicyclists who aren’t wearing warm enough gear could find themselves at risk for hypothermia, particularly in their hands and feet.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Follow the Plow. Interestingly, road surfaces that are plowed and salted or sanded are often just as dry as in the summertime. The City of Boston does plow bike paths after snowfall, though riders have complained in years past the effort wasn’t adequate. Advocates took to Twitter with the hashtag #winterbiker, and officials with the Department of Conservation and Recreation agreed to expand its plowing cycle.
  • Ride Slow and Steady. This is especially important on stretches that are slippery. Riders have to be prepared to take their feet off the pedals if the bicycle begins to fishtail.
  • Be Alert. This is always important, of course, but bear in mind drivers are not keeping a watchful eye out for winter riders.
  • Keep your bike clean – and cold. If you take your bike out at room temperature into the freezing cold, the gears and the brakes are more likely to form ice.
  • Make sure you wear protective clothing. You aren’t going to be able to efficiently operate the bike if you’re freezing. Layer to stay warm and manage the sweat. It’s recommended you start with a wicking base layer shirt and then follow it with insulating fleece, a waterproof/ windproof jacket. On the coldest days, don winter boots (instead of bike shoes) and mittens for gloves.

If you are involved in a bicycle accident in Boston, contact our experienced, caring team of personal injury lawyers today.

Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.