> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brown University Bicycle Commuting List
> On Behalf Of Sadler, Connie
> I don't mind riding in the rain (unless it's torrential!),
> but I'm wondering how safe it is to ride when there is
> thunder and lightning. What to do if one is caught in a bad
> storm when riding?
Connie and all:
The following is from Appendix F of the book 'Cycle Austria and Beyond'
by Thomas Webb, and encapsulates the common cycling wisdom of handling
thunderstorms. Note that others recommend the complete avoidance of
trees within a radius of 100 feet or so when possible.
Also watch for flooding conditions, large puddles (you can never tell
what wheel-eating hazards may lie under the water's surface), fallen and
falling branches, and skittish drivers -- leave a lot of room!
Surviving a thunderstorm
A PREPAREDNESS GUIDE for severe weather is published by the U.S.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather
Service. I have excerpted the following points on protection from
lightning, and adapted some of them for cyclists' special situation on
the road, where there may not be any effective shelter accessible if a
storm is imminent. The NWS has reviewed and approved my adaptations.
Cyclists on the road are most at risk from thunderstorms if they
under or near tall trees, are on or near hilltops, or are themselves
high points on flat terrain (such as crossing an open field).
Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as
10 miles away from any rainfall.
Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from
If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be
struck by lightning. Look for safe shelter immediately!
When skies darken, look AND listen for
Flashes of lightning
Sound of thunder
Lightning remains a danger even when a thunderstorm is
has passed by.
When thunderstorms approach . . .
If you are on a hill with exposure to the sky, try to head
seeking out an overhanging bluff or a valley or ravine where you can
lower your exposure.
Move to a sturdy building or shelter if there is one within
(such as an underpass, a large barn, a store or railroad station). Do
not take shelter in small sheds or under isolated trees.
However, get to higher ground if flash flooding is possible
are (such as by a creek bed).
If caught outdoors and no shelter is nearby . . .
Find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles. Make sure
place you pick is not subject to flash flooding.
If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
(Lightning is more likely to strike the tallest trees.)
If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, dismount
get away from your bike, and squat low to the ground on the balls of
your feet. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them.
Make yourself the smallest target possible, and minimize your contact
with the ground.
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