Is it safe to cycle during a storm?
A single lightning can generate up to 125 million electric volts! Such a high voltage is enough to power a 100-watt light bulb for over 3 months and, unfortunately, to seriously injure or even kill a person. That’s why many of cyclists are wondering if riding a bike during a thunderstorm is safe and whether water is damaging to bicycles. This article will dispel your doubts.
A bicycle vs a thunderstorm – is it allowed to cycle during a storm?
Riding a bike during a storm can be very dangerous. You would think that it’s not so hazardous due to the tyres. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that it’s a different type of tyres than in cars. A car has a Faraday cage effect, which protects the passengers against the lightning. But it’s different in case of the bicycles. Unfortunately, despite the fact that a bike has the tyres, when it’s wet – it conducts the electric current. Moreover, while tyres are getting wet and dirty, it makes them poor insulator. In addition, lots of steel elements can even strengthen the potential dangers.
That’s why it’s not recommended to cycle during a thunderstorm. Therefore, it’s better to adjust to the weather forecast while planning the bicycle rides. Choose the paths that has some stops to hidden somewhere. In case of receiving text messages from Government Institutions with warning against freak weather conditions it’s better to hang it up.
How to protect during the bicycle trip while thunderstorm?
If it started to thunder and rain, stop and look for a safe place for yourself and your bike. First, try to determine how far away the storm is. A good method is to count the time from lightning to the thunder. Within 3 seconds the sound covers almost one kilometre. So, if it’s only few seconds from a lightning to a thunder you should better find a shelter immediately. You should follow the same principle while you are not able to determine how far away the thunderstorm is.
The best solution is to hide under the bridge, overpass, bus shelter, in a barn or under any other roof. Please remember not to stand under the tree because it’s highly dangerous.
If there is no place to hide quickly, you can protect yourself also in other way. In such case, it’s allowed to lower yourself into a crouch in 1 meter (3 meters ideally) from your bicycle. Please avoid big bodies of water and stay away from a lake, pond or a river. Furthermore, avoid all high points in the area at all costs.
While protecting against the thunderstorm, please keep in mind to recognize the weather conditions. The shelf cloud is the most dangerous phenomenon. It indicates a cataclysm. In such situation the thundercloud piles up strongly and rapidly cools the air around it.
Does the water is damaging to the bicycles?
Apart from the safety of the cyclist during a storm, there is also a question about the bike which can be damaged by the water. Heavy rain can enter the bearing and rinse the grease so it contributes to shorter lifecycle of the bearing. So if you are surprised by the rain or a storm, please use the bike repair station and make sure that the bearings are working well and are covered enough with chain lube.