Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Click the "Create Account" button now to join.

To disable ads, please log-in.

Shop at TeamEstrogen.com for women's cycling apparel.

Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164

    So what do we do about thunderstorms?

    To disable ads, please log-in.

    I've been commuting semi-regularly this month and have been enjoying it greatly. This week I challenged myself to make it in all 5 days, since I had no off-site meetings or trainings. So, I said to hell with it and biked in today even though they're calling for a 60% chance of thunderstorms this evening. If it's storming when it's time to leave I'll probably give it another 20-30 minutes but then I really need to be getting home. Do we ride through light thunderstorms? Just how dangerous is that?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I think it's entirely up to you.

    You probably know someone, or at least know someone who knows someone, who's been struck by lightning and survived. It's not really THAT uncommon - nearly 1 in 10,000 people are struck every year in the developed world. Many have lasting consequences to memory and/or personality; some have chronic pain.

    You'll probably also find that everyone who responds to you, myself included, has ridden and/or run through heavy lightning and not been struck. Except that statistically, there are almost certainly people on this board who *have* been struck by lightning. I would honestly consider the sudden heavy rain that accompanies thunderstorms to be a much greater risk. You can take precautions by avoiding roads that are prone to flash flooding, choosing your lane position to stay out of deeper water, and compensating for the loss of traction and braking power, but there's only so much you can do to protect yourself against drivers of vehicles who aren't taking the same precautions, especially considering the reduced visibility and the reduced available lane surface.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 08-28-2013 at 04:49 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    462
    It's dangerous.
    2013 Kirk Frameworks JK Special/Selle Anatomica
    2012 Gunnar Sport/Brooks B17
    2001 Calfee Tetra Pro/Selle Anatomica
    1984 Raleigh Sport/Brooks B66

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    164
    Do other commuters have other plans when it thunderstorms? Do you just not ride in that day? Most summers around here (this one has been strange), there's a chance of thunderstorms basically every evening....I feel like a bike commuter must just deal with it, somehow? I guess on most days my husband could pick me up if he had to.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,226
    Quote Originally Posted by fallstoclimb View Post
    Do other commuters have other plans when it thunderstorms? Do you just not ride in that day? Most summers around here (this one has been strange), there's a chance of thunderstorms basically every evening....I feel like a bike commuter must just deal with it, somehow? I guess on most days my husband could pick me up if he had to.
    Plan ahead for alternate ways to get home--no matter what your commute mode (what happens if your car breaks down?)
    Does your city have busses with bike racks? Or just leave your bike at work and take a bus home. Or a taxi. Or carpool.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    philly
    Posts
    143
    I do, but with caveats.... I gotten pretty good at reading the weather radar (wunderground.com is good/basic NWS radar) and have a pretty good sense of if I can ride like hell to beat a storm home or if it will be clearer if I wait a bit. My job is also generally flexible enough that I can leave early if I see a big line of storms headed our way around 3:30-4pm. Most of my commute is also MUP so I don't have to worry about traffic not being able to see me in a downpour (and I like riding in downpours). I won't leave work if it's heavy thunder close by but I'll keep riding if there's a popup storm while I'm headed home and do get a bit of a thrill out of it (if I were riding through fields, etc where I was the tallest object I'd probably be more cautious, but most of my ride is urban w/ tall buildings or in the bottom of watersheds and it would take a fairly well-aimed bolt of lightning to get past all the big trees on closely adjacent hills).

    RE: alternative plans. I could wait until after 7pm and take my bike on the train, or I could put my bike in the lab overnight and take the train home without it earlier, but then a) I'd have to take the train to work the next day, or b) there's usually a gap in storms big enough to get home sometime between 5-7pm. I've gotten fairly stubborn about not taking the train in on forecasted poor weather days because the weather people tend to overestimate pretty much every forecast (OMGOMGOMG!!! IT'S GOING TO RAIN!!!!!!!1!!! and such) and I found myself taking the train too much on perfectly nice days....if I have somewhere I absolutely have to be at a certain time after work and the forecast is poor I'll probably take the train, but most other days I just ride to work and deal with it in the evenings (and end up riding home 95% of the time).
    Last edited by carlotta; 08-28-2013 at 05:26 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    206
    It's very easy to look up the weather radar on any computer or smartphone. If the storm looks like it's going to last for longer than you can stay at work, you can then institute your backup plan right away and either leave your bike at work or take it home inside a vehicle.

    If it's storming too heavily to ride, public transit might not be any safer if you need to first walk to the stop and then stand out in the weather as I do. My default backup plan is taking a carshare car home, because there are usually multiple carshare cars parked immediately outside my building. Alternately, I will shamelessly ask friends for rides home, or call my spouse if he is home already. I can also call a cab. Depending on where my bike is parked, I can load it into the back of the car that is taking me home, or leave it overnight and take the bus in the next day.

    I won't ride in heavy wind+rain or if I am seeing close lightning strikes and loud thunder. My biggest concern is being hit by blown debris or a falling tree branch; we have a lot of pecan trees around here that are quite brittle and tend to lose large limbs during storms. I ride a touring bike with 1.6" tires and fenders. If I were on a bike with skinny tires I think that I would be more conservative.

    It's good to note that you are more likely to get a flat during rain. You need a plan for that, even if it's walking your bike to the nearest sheltered area so you can fix your flat, or calling home for a rescue. I once walked 6 blocks to the nearest bike shop and politely asked if I could sit down and fix my flat out of the rain, but they insisted on fixing it for me and sent me over to the coffee shop next door for a hot drink

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    I either try to leave before the deluge or wait until the deluge ends. Or I just get wet. I don't worry about lightning. I have a newfound healthy respect for WIND after my experience with a tornado/ wind blast a few months ago!
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,981
    If I can I try avoid riding during a thunderstorm. I've had some scary experiences: bike touring in the middle of nowhere on a highway. We managed to get into a bus shelter and within 1 min. the thunder tore through and rain super hard. To me, that's really scary stuff. Or stop and take refuge somewhere. But hard when in the middle of park area with trees, etc. Yea, some trees in my neighbourhood have been split asunder by lightning by the bike path.

    If it continues while I'm still at work, I try to wait it out...in our area, thunderstorms are short...but sometimes we can get hail, which is damaging and it can hurt you abit.

    Or I simply leave the bike locked up in employee cage area and take transit home. Or if I can take bike onto transit train if time period allows me.

    I tolerate getting quite wet in rain. I've cycled for 4-5 hrs. straight in bike tours in steady rain. I just dislike thunder/lightning near by while I'm biking. And today....I skeedaddled over half broken road from grocery store..when it turned dark grey skies. I didn't want to get my jumbo box of cornflakes wet.... 5 min. at home, then the sky opened up with rain.

    I'm one of those people who don't find it that thrilling when lying in bed and the thunder is super loud for awhile. Whereas others are attracted to the cacophony.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 08-29-2013 at 07:32 PM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Quote Originally Posted by soprano View Post
    It's very easy to look up the weather radar on any computer or smartphone. )
    It is, but there's kind of a trick to it on a mobile device. You need to see the loop to know which way the storm is going, whether it's developing or dissipating, and how fast it's moving. But the loop uses a protocol that most mobile devices don't support. Right above and to the left of the static map, there's a link to the "Standard Version." Click that and it takes you to a .gif version, without the Google map integration, then you can loop the radar.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Beantown
    Posts
    41
    I'm lucky in that I can hop on the subway quite easily, and I can leave my bike in my office - so if I ride in to work and decide not to ride home for whatever reason, I can get home (and back the next day) easily, and my bike is safe. I'm more of a fair-weather bike commuter, so I won't ride in to work in caca weather, but if the morning weather's ok I will go in despite a dodgy forecast. More often than not, the weather stays fine and I can ride home.

    Like OakLeaf, my concern with thunderstorms is less the threat of lightening (I'm riding in a built-up area, so except for the ride over the Charles River, I'm not exposed), but high winds, heavy rain, and what they can do to to braking, visibility, and drivers' brains. Wind and visibility are big concerns. My partner was once literally blown off her bike trying to get home in a storm. Thank heavens she wasn't seriously hurt, and didn't fall into traffic, but even a less dramatic gust can push you off-course. Add drivers being even more stressed-out and less likely to see you, and I"m more than willing to T it home rather than risk my neck.

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •