The following information can help you ride safely in various Queensland environments.
Cycling in the sun and heat
Queensland has many days of hot and humid weather, so to keep cool and healthy, the following tips can help.
Avoid too much sun
- Excessive exposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancers now and in the future. Less severe outcomes can be debilitating sun stroke or sunburn.
- The most dangerous period is between 10am and 3pm. Avoid being in the sun during these hours if you can.
- Wear protective clothing (close-weave fabric with long sleeves and collars). Riding gloves can also protect your hands.
- Cover exposed skin with sunscreen that has a high protection factor (Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30+ or higher).
- Re-apply the sunscreen regularly. Take particular care of your face, neck and the back of your hands.
- Sweat can carry sunscreen on your forehead into your eyes. A visor attached to your helmet will protect your forehead. Alternatively, you can use zinc cream.
- Zinc cream is also recommended for your lips and nose.
For more information on skin protection visit the Queensland Cancer Council website.
Drink plenty of fluids
- drink before you start
- carry plenty of water
- drink a little, but often, during the ride and remember to drink before you really feel you need it – drinking five litres of water for every two hours of riding is quite normal on very hot days.
You might like to:
- keep your water cool – you can freeze your water bottle the night before or cover it with a wet sock
- add a few drops of lemon juice or rose water to the water to reduce the plastic taste.
- cycle at a sensible rate to let your body stay reasonably cool
- ride at a rate you feel you could keep up all day
- rest in a shady spot with your helmet off for a few minutes if you start to get too hot.
Cycling in the wet
You should ride at a slower speed to allow for wet conditions.
Try out your brakes on your first ride if you are not familiar with riding in the wet. Get used to the different brake responses before they are needed in an emergency. Many brakes do not work well until the film of water has been removed from the rims, which usually takes one revolution of the wheel.
Other road users might also have problems braking in the wet. Ride at a slower speed and keep an eye on what other vehicles might be doing.
Road surfaces are more slippery in the wet. If you brake too suddenly you will skid, perhaps dangerously. Apply your brakes gradually.
Cornering depends on your tyres' lateral (side) grip. On slippery roads you have less lateral grip. Take corners slowly and keep you bike more upright rather than leaning into a corner.
Other surfaces can be especially slippery in the wet. Be sure to watch for:
- metal in hole covers, expansion joints, train tracks and sugar tram tracks, paint on roads used for direction signs and lane markings
- wooden surfaces such as the planking on bridges
- fallen leaves.
A road surface becomes slippery when it first rains after a long dry period. The surface grip improves when accumulated dirt and grease are washed off, which takes about 20 minutes of heavy rain.
Heavy rain can make it difficult to see. Wet road surfaces absorb more light which reduces visibility while cycling at night. Be aware of these effects and be extra careful.
If you wear glasses, rain on your lenses can reduce your vision. The difference in temperature between your face and the lenses can cause fogging.
To overcome any fogging you can:
- apply an anti-fogging liquid
- apply dishwashing liquid – also prevents water droplets clinging to glasses
- use a sunshade on a helmet to keep rain away from glasses
- improve road visibility, such as during heavy rain, by turning on your lights, wearing bright rain jackets and reflectors and doing whatever you can to make yourself more visible.
Puddles can hide potholes or other unexpected bumps or surprises. Avoid puddles if possible. If puddles are unavoidable, cycle through them slowly.
Bike maintenance after rain
Clean any mud or sand from the chain and other working surfaces of the bike after rain. You might need to relubricate your chain, hubs and bottom bracket.
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Cycling in traffic
Under the road rules, bicycles are considered vehicles. As a legitimate road user, you have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles.
Heavy and fast traffic can seem a little daunting. Start on roads with lighter and slower traffic to build up your skills and confidence.
- be predictable and signal your intentions
- be assertive but not aggressive or foolish
- be aware
- expect the unexpected and ride carefully.
Bicycle education for 9 to 13-year-olds is also available.
Riding in traffic you will need skills to:
- brake effectively, including emergency braking
- ride in a straight line
- keep a straight path while looking over your shoulder to scan for traffic
- corner effectively
- signal direction changes
- claim your space on the road but know when it is safer not to insist on your rights
- scan for traffic and other movements ahead, such as people crossing the road
- listen for oncoming traffic from side streets or the rear
- predict the likely behaviour of other road users, such as
- a motorist recently parked might be about to open a door or pull out again
- a car slowing near you might be about to turn
- long and wide vehicles need more space to turn
- a driver who has done one unexpected manoeuvre might do another.
Be ready for:
- drivers turning in front of you
- dangers with merging traffic
- the erratic and unexpected behaviour of other road users.
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Cycling at night
Cycling at night can be as enjoyable as during the day if you take a few precautions.
Queensland road rules require you to have a white headlight, a red tail-light and a red rear reflector.
- A steady headlight is recommended to highlight the road/path surface ahead and to be seen by drivers and other cyclists.
- Flashing tail lights are recommended because they are more noticeable than steady tail lights.
- Some cyclists prefer to use two tail lights, with one tail light on the bike and the other attached to their helmet.
- Most tail lights are directional and should be carefully mounted to face following traffic.
- Lights should be bright – halogen and krypton lights are good however LED lights use the least power and are reliable.
- Alkaline batteries are fine for basic light sets however rechargeable batteries are recommended for high output light systems.
- Metal Hydride and Lithium ion rechargeable batteries are better value than Nickel Cadmium rechargeable batteries.
- Cyclists who regularly travel at night should carry spare batteries and/or have secondary lighting in case of lighting failure.
- Lights require cleaning to maintain brightness.
You must have a red rear reflector. To make your bike more highly visible you can also add:
- a white reflector on the front
- amber reflectors attached to the spokes
- amber reflectors on your pedals.
Note: white for front, amber for sides and red for rear.
Keep the reflectors clean of mud and road dirt.
Reflective vests, ankle bands, wrist bands and reflective tape on your backpack or panniers all help make you more visible.
Most motorists have lights at night, but be aware that some might not, especially at dusk or dawn. Watch for other cyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, cats, possums and cane toads. Be careful of dark patches on the road that could be potholes or debris.
Some motorists might approach with their headlights on high beam and can temporarily blind you. If this happens, go to the left of the road, stop and wait until your eyesight recovers.
You also need to be more aware of your personal security at night when there are fewer people around and more hiding places.
Wet nights can be very hazardous. A wet road surface reflects less light and reduces conditions for seeing and being seen. Be aware of visibility issues and review the tips for cycling in the wet.
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