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Tips for Biking in the Rain

Photo by Pietro Zuco

The rain is finally here! After a record-breaking drought we now have rain in the forecast for at least the next few days — Hallelujah! But you don’t have to hang your bike up just because it’s sprinkling. So here are a few tips for wet-weather riding.

Slow down – This goes for drivers and bicyclists as well. Riding slower will give you more time to react to the unexpected, like a driver breaking suddenly or opening a door. 

Use your lights – Even during the day. During the day, bike lights won’t necessarily help you see, but they will help you be seen. A rear red light or reflector and front white lights are required by law for night riding, and it’s just a good idea on rainy days.

Stay dry with simple gear – You don’t have to have expensive bike gear to pedal in the rain. A waterproof jacket, some fenders and a plastic bag to cover your seat are all you really need. Wear rain boots or bring an extra pair of socks to change into.

Avoid Muni tracks or metal grates – Slick metal is the biggest danger in wet weather riding. Avoid Muni tracks, grates, manhole covers, and any other metal bits on the street. If you must ride over Muni tracks, go slowly and ride perpendicular to the track. Let some air out of your tires. Having slightly deflated tires makes for better traction in the rain. Let out just enough so your tires are slightly soft, not too soft. You’ll lose a little bit of speed, but that’s okay (see rule #1).

Riding in the rain can be great: the bike lanes are all yours, you avoid the stinky and over-crowded rainy day Muni, and you’ll arrive to work feeling alert, and hopefully not too wet.