I used some of the magical words of Paul SIMON – Slip Slidin’ Away – to caption this blog entry, and for a pretty good reason.
Here on the West Coast of CANADA the Fall rains have finally started, or at least the Fall weather has finally arrived. With the rain comes the wind, and with the wind comes the colourful Fall leaves to the ground.
In our area the municipalities have had a wonderful program for several years to put trees up along the streets, avenues, roads, boulevards. If it has pavement on it, likely there is a tree next to it. That includes bike lanes and separated bike paths. Needless to say trails & trees go hand in hand, all around them.
You may have noticed that I have again used the area of West Maple Ridge BC as an example.
Now take a look at the road in the attached pictures and notice the leaves along the side of the street, and out to the driving/ travel portion of the driving surface. As with the puddles you can’t see the bottom of, you can’t see what is or isn’t under the leaves, other than to know they are going to be slippery.
As I said the rains have come, with the rains, comes the wind. The rain weighs down the dying leaves, and the wind removes the leaves from the tress. Those leaves get deposited on the wet streets and cause the street to become slippery and slick. This causes very slick road surfaces to the tyres of the bikes that pass by this point.
This isn’t just BC west coast thing, but it is occurring anywhere the leaves are coming off the trees and mixing with the wet weather conditions.
Once the weather and the leaves mix, the accumulation on the ground gets wet and slippery and starts to rot and gets even slipperier. Not good news for cyclists, or vehicles that might have to brake quickly and could slide in the leaf mush.
The Motor Vehicle Act, or Highway Traffic Act, names change across the continents but the message is the same.
Ride as close as practicable to the right hand side of the roadway.
In the CAN-BIKE program, along with the Cycling Savvy program, the message is taken as
As far right as practicable, practicable being safe. When the traveled portion of the road surface is narrow, take the lane.
This doesn’t mean you hug the gutter as some motorists would profess, it means, as I teach it, the cyclist is in a reasonable spot on the road surface, not buried along the road gutter, AND if there is debris (leaves etc) then we move out to avoid this obstruction.
It bears repeating – As far right as practicable, practicable being safe. When the roadway surface is narrow, take the lane.
Riding in all sorts of weather conditions can be enjoyable, once you are prepared for it, but riding when it’s unsafe is dangerous to the cyclist and those around them if the cyclist goes down. If we can see hazards and avoid them then we as cyclists are going to have a better experience riding.
After all, riding is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not feared and gut tightening with anxiety.
Please be careful, use your lights – so others can see you – always wear a helmet and some form of eye protection. In lousy weather you need to see what is around you – your life could likely depend on it.
Thanks for Stopping By
Safe Ride Home
Chuck Nov 2018.