Author Topic: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?  (Read 6922 times)

TrMama

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Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« on: September 02, 2014, 04:21:17 PM »
I biked into work this morning. It was only supposed to rain 1 mm today. Surprise! It's now pouring rain and there's a ton of thunder and lightening. My bike is a road bike with a carbon frame. It's a 13km ride to get home.

I'm being a complainypants, right?

hybrid

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 04:32:59 PM »
I wouldn't worry about riding in a storm that's lightening. Unless there is lightning, that is!

In all seriousness, just use common sense. Big bad storms usually pass fairly quickly, wait it out.

AlanStache

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2014, 04:40:45 PM »
+1 wait it out.  Cars cant see, you cant see, spray in your eyes.  Might be a big pothole under that puddle.  Driving there have been times I just sit it out and let things pass for 30-45 min.  Lightning would be the least of my worries.

Eric

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2014, 04:44:45 PM »
Suck it up buttercup.  You're not going to melt.  :)


AlanStache

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2014, 05:38:13 PM »

GuitarStv

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2014, 06:38:07 AM »
I regularly bike in heavy rain and thunder/lightning storms (actually, just yesterday I was biking through some torrential rain).  The lightning doesn't bother me at all, but most of Toronto has very tall trees, houses, and poles everywhere . . . if you live in a flat desert or something maybe there's more chance of lightning strike?  The wet is no big deal if you keep a couple things in mind:
1.  As AlanStache has demonstrated, it's a very bad idea to go through water if you don't regularly cycle the route and know where all the potholes are.  This is doubly true of deep water.
2.  Expect the wind to be fierce.  It will buffet you quite a bit, and can come and go unexpectedly . . . sometimes it feels like an invisible leprechaun running around your bike and shoving you.
3.  Be bright.  Turn on your tail light, wear light clothing, have reflective stuff on your bike.  Rain and thunderstorms makes it more difficult to see you.
4.  Related to #1 . . . know your route.  Really shitty weather is not when you want to be exploring a new place.  You want to be able to get into your left turn lanes well in advance, you want to know where all the sharp corners are, you want to avoid the dangerous super fast roadways, etc.
5.  Steel grates, painted lines, and manhole covers are more slippery when wet, so be cautions around these things.  Braking takes longer when your rims are wet . . . so take this into account when approaching a stop or descending a hill.

Jack

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2014, 06:43:13 AM »
Being in a car when during a lightning storm is relatively safe because the metal body of the car forms a Faraday cage (YMMV in a convertible or non-metal car such as a Corvette). Your bike is not a Faraday cage, therefore riding it during a lightning storm is just as unsafe as walking during a lightning storm.

(Also note: the fact that cars are safe in a lightning storm has nothing to do with the rubber tires.)

GuitarStv

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2014, 06:52:34 AM »
Your car doesn't actually form a Faraday cage.  If it did you would be unable to receive radio signal or cell reception in the vehicle.  The metal body does provide an easier path for the energy to take to ground however, like being inside a big lightning rod.

Your odds of being hit by lightning are incredibly small.  If you're in a city surrounded by tall buildings, wires, and poles it's even smaller.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2014, 08:04:39 AM »
Your odds of being hit by lightning are incredibly small.  If you're in a city surrounded by tall buildings, wires, and poles it's even smaller.

Don't bikes attract lightning, though?  I've always been told to get off and away from the bike if lightning is in the area.  Yeah not many people are struck by lightning a year but maybe that's because they all have the sense to be inside or in a car during storms?

Eric

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2014, 08:06:36 AM »
therefore riding it during a lightning storm is just as unsafe as walking during a lightning storm.

Or phrased another way, almost completely safe and barely worth worrying about unless your route takes you through grand open fields where you're the tallest object for a mile.

Did you make it home okay TrMama?

TrMama

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2014, 09:47:57 AM »
Thanks for all the replies. As predicted, the lightning storm lightened up considerably by the end of my work day. I made it home just fine and was really happy I didn't call my DH to come get me. Traffic was a mess, but as usual it was pretty easy to navigate around it. He would've been pretty annoyed if he'd had to sit in traffic on his day off.

The rain didn't freak me out. I live in the PNW and am quite used to it. However, we rarely get lightning and I'd forgotten whether it was worth worrying about.

There never seems to be a dull day when bike commuting . . .

mpbaker22

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2014, 11:48:27 AM »
Wait it out- you can get hit by lightning: http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/missouri/bicyclist-critical-after-being-struck-by-lightning/article_fbc61a5d-b1f7-57a6-b258-4bea8d91027d.html

I was looking for the same article.  I used to live/ride out that way and I think I might have met that guy once.

Russ

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Bobberth

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2014, 12:29:40 PM »
Somebody around here was struck by lightning while riding a bike last week during a storm and was in critical condition.  Yes the odds are extremely low but it can happen.  Use your best judgement and pay attention to your surroundings to see if you are the tallest thing around.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2014, 01:22:17 PM »
Your odds of being hit by lightning are incredibly small.  If you're in a city surrounded by tall buildings, wires, and poles it's even smaller.

Don't bikes attract lightning, though?  I've always been told to get off and away from the bike if lightning is in the area.  Yeah not many people are struck by lightning a year but maybe that's because they all have the sense to be inside or in a car during storms?

Bikes don't attract lightning more than walking around with an umbrella.  Somehow I've seen many risking their lives walking with umbrellas though . . .

mpbaker22

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2014, 01:57:43 PM »
Your odds of being hit by lightning are incredibly small.  If you're in a city surrounded by tall buildings, wires, and poles it's even smaller.

Don't bikes attract lightning, though?  I've always been told to get off and away from the bike if lightning is in the area.  Yeah not many people are struck by lightning a year but maybe that's because they all have the sense to be inside or in a car during storms?

Bikes don't attract lightning more than walking around with an umbrella.  Somehow I've seen many risking their lives walking with umbrellas though . . .

Seems to me the umbrella usually has a rubber handle.  Usually, your hands will be on rubber handlebar grips and your feet in shoes with soles.  But you know, the umbrella isn't physically holding up the rider ...

GuitarStv

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Re: Is it safe to bike in a lightening storm?
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2014, 01:59:35 PM »
If the rubber on my tires isn't going to stop the lightning, somehow I doubt that the plastic or rubber on the handle of your umbrella will.