Rain and Cold Weather Riding Tips
- If you use your bicycle for transportation, sooner or later you'll find that you need to ride at night or in the rain. Practicing good riding skills and the right equipment can make it much safer and more comfortable.
Stay Dry and Warm
A decent rain jacket and pants are your best defense. They both cut down on wind and keep you dry. If you can afford it, GoreTex or other breathable fabric will keep the rain out and keep you from feeling clammy. If you're on a budget thrift stores and camping surplus stores may have great deals on waterproof wear. Some cyclists like to use a rain cape, which covers your hands and allows airflow to prevent sweat-buildup.
Fenders are also a very good investment - they prevent your feet from getting soaked and your clothes from getting gritty and dirty.
Nice extras include waterproof gloves, a snug hood or cap, a synthetic layer next to your skin to wick away moisture, and rain booties to go over your shoes (or waterproof boots).
Use Front and Rear Bicycle Lights
- A white light visible at least 500 feet to the front, and a red light or reflector visible at least 600 feet to the rear. These lights allow other people to see you from the back, front and side. For more visibility at night wear bright clothing, an orange vest, or use reflective tape. The more reflectors and lights, whether blinking, flashing or solid, the better.
- To make sure you're visible, ask a friend to ride behind you and watch as you approach. Lights only work when they're adjusted so others can see them.
Slow Down on Newly Wet Roads
- The first rain after a dry spell brings oil and other car-drippings to the surface of the asphalt, making for a more slippery ride. Use extra caution and slow down when traveling on newly-wet pavement.
Brake Early and Often
- Allow plenty of stopping distance. Prepare to slow before you have to: gently squeeze your brakes in the rain to clear the water from you brake pads.
Avoid Some Painted and Steel Road Surfaces and Leaves
- Steel plates, railroad, streetcar and MAX tracks, sewer covers, grates and other metal can be very slick in the rain. For paint, Portland City crews use non-slick paint and plastics for bike lanes and bicycle markings (and those green bike boxes); however, crosswalks and other painted surfaces can be slippery. Avoid using your brakes or turning on these painted surfaces and on leaves and oily spots.
- Cross rails at a 90-degree angle and keep your bike upright when crossing to avoid slipping.
Stay Out of the Puddles
- While it is tempting to splash through puddles especially if you have really good rain gear, a puddle can disguise a very deep pothole. If you to happen upon one of these, give our pothole crews a call at 503-823-1700.
Practice Makes Perfect
- Want a chance to practice your all-season cycling skills? See if there's a Portland By Cycle ride or class available. The Autumn Ride series is designed to help you keep riding even when the weather gets "interesting." The All-Season Cycling class talks about specific skills and tools for making riding in the rain and dark easier and more comfortable.