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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-07-12, 07:25 AM   #1
PuffnPant
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Hit by lightning

Is it possible to be hit by lightning? What precautions should you take? Never thought about it really until I saw it come down in front of me.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:51 AM   #2
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Apart from not riding when there's lightning about, there isn't really a lot you can do. If you're already riding when things start getting electrical, then the only piece of advice I can remember is don't shelter under a tree, as a lightning strike on a tree will apparently boil the sap inside the tree and cause a sort of steam explosion.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:54 AM   #3
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Riding in thunder and lightning storms can make one feel rather small and insignificant.
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Old 07-07-12, 11:04 AM   #4
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It's possible, but never happened to me. Of course, here in the Midwest, lightning usually associated with hail and sometimes tornadoes. Being pelted by hail that can get as big as softballs is something I try to avoid.
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Old 07-07-12, 12:43 PM   #5
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Apart from not riding when there's lightning about, there isn't really a lot you can do. If you're already riding when things start getting electrical, then the only piece of advice I can remember is don't shelter under a tree, as a lightning strike on a tree will apparently boil the sap inside the tree and cause a sort of steam explosion.
I used to cut firewood up near Yosemite, Lightning strikes the trees there quite regularly. We shut down cutting one afternoon due to a storm and not 200 yards away a rather but tree was struck by lightning. The explosion was deffining and what was left of the tree was just splinters sticking out of the ground, debree was blowen all around and some of it was on fire. We spent the rest of the day looking for hot spots and shaking off the ebee gebees lol

I avoid running around outside if there is an electrical storm about, don't need a repeat of my last close call
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Old 07-07-12, 01:00 PM   #6
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wear rubber soled shoes, keep away from lightning magnet structures, or stay on the bicycle. here in florida it rains about every afternoon in the summer i just got use to the lightning striking.
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Old 07-07-12, 02:17 PM   #7
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I ride faster than lightening can travel. So, no, I can't be hit by lightening.
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Old 07-07-12, 02:40 PM   #8
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wear rubber soled shoes, keep away from lightning magnet structures, or stay on the bicycle.
What keeps you safe in a car is not the rubber of the tires. It is the fact that you are in a metal cage that allows the lightning to go around you, rather than through you.

Wet, rubber soled shoes and bicycle tires are wholly inadequate insulation.

And to answer the OP, yes lighting can strike you; even when you can't see any clouds in the sky. Here's one woman who was struck by not one, but two bolts of lighting while she was cycling.

Here's another cyclist in Kansas.

Here's what IMBA has to say. http://www.imba.com/resources/nmbp/l...ountain-bikers

That said, in any storm, the odds of getting hit by lightning are low. But the only way to avoid it in a lightning storm is to stay indoors.
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Old 07-07-12, 02:51 PM   #9
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wear rubber soled shoes, keep away from lightning magnet structures, or stay on the bicycle. here in florida it rains about every afternoon in the summer i just got use to the lightning striking.
Rubber souled shoes will help you not at all. Ditto being on the bike. You could be floating in mid-air and you still can get struck, because your body provides a better conductive path than the air next to you for that portion of the trip. It's just luck.

Staying away from structures might help but it depends on the structure. An antenna tower is probably an excellent place to be, because the tower will be very well grounded and surrounded by guy wires; you're almost guaranteed not to be hit there. Being next to a tree is a phenomenally bad idea, because if it gets hit, the sap can boil and the tree can explode. And since the tree is not that good of a conductor, the strike can leave the tree and decide to go through you for the last 6 feet to the ground.
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Old 07-07-12, 02:56 PM   #10
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wear rubber soled shoes, keep away from lightning magnet structures, or stay on the bicycle. here in florida it rains about every afternoon in the summer i just got use to the lightning striking.
It's on the Internet- so you know it's true, NOT!

For more accurate info via the Internet you might try this site.
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Old 07-07-12, 03:47 PM   #11
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It's perfectly possible. As I've posted here before, a workmate of mine was hit while cycling home from work. He survived, spent the night in hospital and was back at work a few days later.

His name?

Alan Crisp
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Old 07-07-12, 04:33 PM   #12
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Being next to a tree is a phenomenally bad idea,
the tree in the picture was cooked instantly sounded like power station arcing. there are a lot of pine trees where i ride they usually get hit first or im really lucky.
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Old 07-07-12, 04:45 PM   #13
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It's on the Internet- so you know it's true, NOT!

For more accurate info via the Internet you might try this site.
Not that many deaths due to lightning strikes. However, from what I can determine, about 1,200 people are struck by lightning every year. How many college basketball players make it to the NBA each year? Less than 100. So your chances of making it to the NBA are far worse than being struck by lightning.
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Old 07-08-12, 03:51 PM   #14
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When I was a kid, we lived near the top of a small hill. On the top of the hill about 100 feet from our living room was a telephone pole with a transformer on it. It got hit at least once a year. Talk about a loud boom! I seen the strike a few times. Wow! We also had a large CB antenna that got hit. There was fiberglass(?) all over the yard! I spent what seemed like days cleaning it up. Anyway, I digress except to say I have a healthy respect for lightning. For better or worse, on my commute their are many nearby stores. if I'm on my commute home and a storm pops up, there are a number of stores I can go shopping in and that is what I do. My favorite are the Barnes & Nobel bookstore (where I can get coffee and read a magazine) or the pub.

For more information about lighting outdoors, this is a decent overview of what you can do: http://www.wildbackpacker.com/wilder...ghtning-storm/
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Old 07-08-12, 04:18 PM   #15
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Is it possible to be hit by lightning? What precautions should you take? Never thought about it really until I saw it come down in front of me.
Don't golf and don't shelter under a tree.
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Old 07-09-12, 12:12 AM   #16
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I agree with the others who say that the only real defense is to be indoors (or inside of a car).

If you are out in a thunderstorm, and I have been sometimes, it's best to be in the general area of trees or other tall structures, though not right next to these structures-- assuming you have any choice. The taller items are more likely to draw lightning strikes than you are. If you're right next to these structures, though, you still risk being electrocuted through the ground or injured in an explosion.

Lightning is a real danger when you're camping above the treeline. If you can't get indoors it's a non-trivial threat. So, that's worth bearing in mind if you're considering riding on in open country during a lightning storm instead of waiting it out. That said, I've ridden on many times during lightning storms to get home sooner.

I don't know where the idea of rubber-soled shoes or bike tires protecting against lightning came from. Perhaps it was a mistaken idea about what protects the occupants of car. As someone else pointed out, the protection is the car's frame acting as a Faraday cage. The car's metal frame diverts the lightning around the interior of cabin into the ground (including through the tires, ultimately). It's not the rubber of the tires that helps here. Notice that open air is a pretty good electrical insulator. You can stand near an exposed wire in open air and not get electrocuted, after all. Yet lightning travels through miles of air between cloud and ground. A fraction of an inch of extra rubber will make no difference at all in a direct strike.

That said, rubber soled-shoes or bike tires *can* offer some protection. If you're standing on the ground near a lightning strike- if a tree or a tower nearby gets struck, for example-- the rubber of shoes or a bike tire can provide some protection against the attenuated electrical current that runs through the ground from the strike point to you.

Still, you should get inside, if possible.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:42 AM   #17
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That said, rubber soled-shoes or bike tires *can* offer some protection. If you're standing on the ground near a lightning strike- if a tree or a tower nearby gets struck, for example-- the rubber of shoes or a bike tire can provide some protection against the attenuated electrical current that runs through the ground from the strike point to you.
Yes, it can, provided that the rubber is dry. And a sheet of aluminum foil will slow a bullet down, just a bit. Otherwise the electricity just slides along the outside using the water that nature so willingly provides during a thunderstorm. As has been shown by the examples of cyclists hit by lightning, a tiny bit of rubber in the rain, just won't keep you safe.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:54 AM   #18
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Your title is misleading...

Disappointed.
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Old 07-09-12, 06:09 AM   #19
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Thanks for the advice, I suppose if I happen to be out in a lightning storm, it's just pot luck.
Perhaps I may make it worth my while and fix a big antenna to the bike that attaches to my flux capacitor, if I can reach the magic 77mph at the right time, who knows what could happen!
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Old 07-09-12, 08:36 AM   #20
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We don't get much lightning around here but sure did last night. It made me very glad I had the night off and wasn't riding in it.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:05 AM   #21
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Don't be the tallest object in your vicinity, not counting trees of course.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:11 AM   #22
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Your title is misleading...

Disappointed.
Shadenfreude Haiku?
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Old 07-09-12, 11:32 PM   #23
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Yes, it can, provided that the rubber is dry. And a sheet of aluminum foil will slow a bullet down, just a bit. Otherwise the electricity just slides along the outside using the water that nature so willingly provides during a thunderstorm. As has been shown by the examples of cyclists hit by lightning, a tiny bit of rubber in the rain, just won't keep you safe.
Well, as I say, even ordinary layers of rubber or some other insulator can be *some* protection against current running through the ground from a lightning strike (though the current moves up from the ground to the sky, rather than down, it should be said). It's much more of a practical matter than your comparison to aluminum foil and a bullet suggests. Again, I'm talking about the attenuated current near a strike, not anything that would attenuate a direct strike. You're right that water counters the effect, but not by any means completely so. It's much better, for example, to be standing on the ground some distance from a strike in tennis shoes, even in the rain, than barefoot.

If you're camping, to give another example, and a lightning storm is occurring, it's a practical measure to kneel on a pad inside of your tent, and to put as much clothing and whatever underneath you. You can reduce the chance of pain or even injury from indirect electrocution significantly.

Anyway, by far the best thing to do is get indoors.
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