Puddle Peril Pedaling

Cyclist hospitalized after crashing here.

Fall is here, and winter is just around the corner! The balmy days of summer are past, and cool wet weather has arrived. The weather, as you may have noticed, has been very cool (compare the 85° of a couple of weeks ago to the 45° forecast for the next week or so!) and also pretty wet. So, it is time for my annual screed on puddles, leaves, railroad tracks, manhole covers, and visibility.

  • Try not to ride through puddles. You can’t always tell how deep they are or what’s in them. The puddle might be there because there is a huge pothole with steep sides or a big rock in the middle of the puddle.
  • If you are riding with others, they will love you for your fenders.  😊 
  • For all the same reasons, you should stay away from wet leaves—especially piles of wet leaves. In addition to the hidden hazards, wet leaves offer less-than-zero traction. Even if it is not a pile of leaves, try to avoid them.
  • Avoid metal surfaces like the plague (e.g., railroad or trolley tracks, gratings in catch basins, utility access hole covers). Or like Covid. Most of them, particularly tracks and gratings, have some surface that is not level, and any decrease in traction could lead to a fall. And when you do have to roll over metal in the road, rain or shine, never try to turn, brake, or accelerate.
  • Wear clothing with bright colors and reflective strips. Put reflective strips on your pedals and cranks, downtubes, etc.
  • Use your lights – day and night. Carry spare batteries if you need to, and be sure your rechargeable lights are fully charged each time you go out. Give drivers every chance to see you.
  • Obey traffic lights. We all know it is OK to roll through a stop sign now and again, so long as it is safe. In this case, being “safe” means you don’t get hit.

I have been hit by a car, and it is not nearly as much fun as you might think.

Dave McQuery, Member at Large