Editors: This was originally published in Issue 154 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine.
Don’t be intimidated by that wet stuff falling from the sky! Riding in the rain is easier than you think. Here are a few tips to make your rainy day commute a bit more comfortable.
The safest way to ride in wet weather is slowly. Your brakes are less effective, with water reducing friction between your brake pads and wheels, as well as between your tires and the street. So take it slowly and give yourself enough time to come to a complete stop.
Avoid slipping on metal surfaces, road imperfections and painted surfaces that can get slippery when wet. Be extra careful when crossing train racks, metal grates, sewer covers and even bike lane markings, which can be slick.
Dress for the weather
Wet weather can be cold weather. Find a base layer that will keep you warm, but will also breathe. We recommend wool, fleece or a synthetic fabric.
Keep yourself dry. Waterproof outer layers, such as a rain jacket or poncho, rain pants, waterproof boots or shoes, and water-resistant gloves will help deflect those drops. Use a rain cover or a shower cap to keep your head dry.
Stay visible. It’s harder to see in wet weather, so increase your visibility with bright colors and reflective materials.
Don’t forget your cargo! Options to keep your belongings dry on a wet ride include waterproof bags and panniers or a waterproof cover for your backpack or basket. To be extra safe, you can toss your stuff in a plastic bag and tuck it into your backpack.
Outfit your bike
Use lights to make yourself even more visible. A front white light and a rear reflector are required by law and very important for making you visible to other road-users. We also recommend a rear light and side lights or reflectors for maximum shininess.
Keep your pants and bike clean with fenders. Fenders will keep water and dirt from splashing on you and your chain.
Remember that SF Bicycle Coalition members can use their member benefit to get discounts on all the gear you need for biking in wet weather. If you’re not a member, join today so you can start taking advantage of discounts all over town.
Photo credit: Dustin Jensen.