When people think of seasonal dangers to bikers, they often think of wet springs and icy, snow-covered roads in winter. Few people realize that the fall is equally dangerous, with its own unique set of risks when compared with the year. While there are risks to bikers in any season, autumn’s risks can easily get overlooked.
The fall can be an amazing time of year to go for a bike ride. Whether your ride is part of your daily commute or a trip to appreciate the turning of the leaves, the crisp air and beautiful foliage combine to offer an enjoyable time. While you are appreciating the cooler weather, cloudy skies and brilliant tress, however, you may need to take a few extra steps to keep yourself safe on the road.
Perform adequate maintenance on your bike
If you commute on a bicycle, chances are that you already routinely inspect it for issues and perform minor maintenance. Tightening and greasing chains, for example, can impact the smoothness of your ride as well as your ability to quickly maneuver.
In the fall, pavement temperature can drop. That can result in compression of the air in the tires and a drop in tire pressure. Check your tire pressure before a ride, and try to plan ahead for the impact of cold streets before you get onto them.
You should also make sure any lights on your bike are in working order, and that reflectors are functioning optimally. If they have dulled due to wear or need to get adjusted to catch light better, do so. The days will only get shorter, with night coming faster each evening throughout the fall.
Plan for additional risk factors on the road
The weather will be colder than usual, and rain is always a possibility. Wear or pack warm, water-resistant gear in case you need it. Goggles can also help ensure visibility in a sudden storm. Remember that storms and darkness can make visibility an issue for people in cars, too. Make sure to wear bright colors as part of your outer layer. Lights and reflectors are also wise.
Those leaves that are looking so beautiful can be a source of lost traction when you need to stop. Especially when wet, accumulated leaves can be enough to send a cyclist to the pavement. They can also hide other issues, like potholes or broken glass, which could result in an accident or damage to you or your bike.
Finally, be on the lookout for distracted drivers, looking at the trees or just not paying attention for bikers because of the season. The best way to protect yourself is to stay aware of your surroundings as well as possible for the duration of your ride.