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Old 06-23-11, 04:44 PM   #1
DnvrFox
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Lightning and 50+ Bicycle Safety

This is going to be controversial, BUT:

There were 29 lightning deaths in 2010 in the US of A, and 6 so far this year

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.htm

There were something like 30,000 deaths from automobile accidents in 2010. In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured.

Only one of those lightning deaths in 2010 involved an open vehicle - motorcycle in Colorado. None involved bicycles.

Do you stop bicycling when there are cars on the road? Statistically, perhaps one should ride in thunderstorms and stay off the roads.

We are one of the lightning centers of the US of A.

Each year our TV stations have lightning safety specials - one after the other, again and again; yet nothing about vehicle safety, speeding, following too close, drunk driving, bicycle safety, etc.

I don't get it.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 06-23-11 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 06-23-11, 05:48 PM   #2
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I actually do live in the lightning capital of the US. When thunderstorms come through here we get literally thousands of lightning strikes in a few hours. I know a few folks who have been struck by lightning, though none have died. I like riding in the rain in the summer, because it's cooling and kind of fun.

I looking at lightning like I look at cars. You need to accept the danger, or stay inside. But there's plenty to do to reduce the danger. To reduce the danger from cars, you ride legally, assertively, and predictably. With lightning, you just try to avoid riding during the peak of the storm. There are bigger dangers associated with riding in thunderstorms than lightning - the wind, slick road, and limited visibility is more dangerous than the lightning, but the key is to be sensible, acknowledge the risk, and reduce it as best you can.
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Old 06-23-11, 05:58 PM   #3
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I pay attention to where I am when outdoors and there is lightening, on the bike or otherwise. I seek places were I'm not the tallest thing around. I'm more fearful of being in the middle of a lake in a row boat when there's lightening about than on my bike. Where there are trees and buildings near. Don't know who I'd feel in the wide open spaces of that exist where some of you live.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:00 PM   #4
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If I followed the generally promulgated safety rules about lightning around here, there are some weeks when I would never ride.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:07 PM   #5
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I'll tell you where I pay attention to lightning, that's when I'm out in the Gulf of Mexico in my 22 foot boat. I've been boating and fishing out there for 30 years and have been caught in storms a fair number of times. There I am, 20-40 nautical miles from land, the highest thing around, holding onto a well grounded stainless steel steering wheel while lighting pops just everywhere. Have to run from waterspouts on occasion, that'll get your attention.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:09 PM   #6
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There is a safety-nanny aspect to lightning warnings, just like for a lot of things these days.People are notoriously bad at evaluating risk, so the media seems to want to take up the challenge. Staying inside reduces the risk of getting hit by lightning to almost zero, but raises the risk of eating too many potato chips. Pick your poison, I guess.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:25 PM   #7
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As a meteorologist, the title of this thread caught my interest!

You have to really think about this for a second.

How many more times does a cyclist encounter a car compared to a thunderstorm? Would you say its much easier to avoid or wait out a thunderstorm or cars? And how much harder is it to spot dangerous drivers than dangerous weather?

I try to avoid dangerous weather (at least when I'm on my bike!) It's a risk that you do have to choice to avoid.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
There is a safety-nanny aspect to lightning warnings, just like for a lot of things these days.People are notoriously bad at evaluating risk, so the media seems to want to take up the challenge. Staying inside reduces the risk of getting hit by lightning to almost zero, but raises the risk of eating too many potato chips. Pick your poison, I guess.

Ummm,, Potato Chips... One of my weaknesses.

As some of you may know, Massachusetts was recently hit with a very strong
tornado. Did a lot of damage to the western part of the state, with Springfield and Monson getting the worst of it. In my area, we were hit with a thunder and lightening
storm that would have made Nikola Tesla proud. A big "CRACK-BOOM!" and off goes the power. As a true nerd, I own several LED flashlights and lanterns, so no problem.
Still, most people have no idea how dark the world really is, until there are no lights at all.

I've been caught riding in summer thunderstorms quite a few times. But no, I would not have wanted to be caught in this one. Had I been riding, I would have sought shelter: Building, bus stop shelter, etc. The howling wind and rain would have made riding impossible for even the heartiest cyclist.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wxduff View Post
As a meteorologist, the title of this thread caught my interest!

You have to really think about this for a second.

How many more times does a cyclist encounter a car compared to a thunderstorm? Would you say its much easier to avoid or wait out a thunderstorm or cars? And how much harder is it to spot dangerous drivers than dangerous weather?

I try to avoid dangerous weather (at least when I'm on my bike!) It's a risk that you do have to choice to avoid.
I avoid cars by riding trails. I don't understand the EXTREME emphasis on lightning safety vs other types of risks by the media. We are told that if we hear any thunder to stay inside. Agan, I would be house bound or car bound at times, and I just won't do that. If it is directly overhead or real close, I will shelter.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:37 PM   #10
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When bicycle touring, what is the first thing we do when a lightning storm approaches? We take shelter inside our tents of course, where we are safely snuggled beneath an array of aluminum rods !!!

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Old 06-23-11, 06:41 PM   #11
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When bicycle touring, what is the first thing we do when a lightning storm approaches? We take shelter inside our tents of course, where we are safely snuggled beneath an array of aluminum rods !!!

I can't believe you are still alive!!
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Old 06-23-11, 06:43 PM   #12
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I can't believe you are still alive!!
Just call me "Sparky".
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Old 06-23-11, 06:54 PM   #13
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http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/...ows_Fence1.jpg
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Old 06-23-11, 07:02 PM   #14
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Roast beef tonight?
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Old 06-23-11, 07:28 PM   #15
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I cut my ride short today because it started to thunder and the clouds got pretty dark. When we get our afternoon, summer thunderstorms the lightning is pretty fierce. The park that I ride in has a 15 mile paved trail that is in the middle of the woods with nothing but trees or open spaces. I really don't want to be in the open spaces and I don't really trust being under trees. If you have been in this area during one of our lightning storms, you'll know what I mean.
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Old 06-23-11, 08:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
This is going to be controversial, BUT:

There were 29 lightning deaths in 2010 in the US of A, and 6 so far this year

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.htm

There were something like 30,000 deaths from automobile accidents in 2010. In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured.

Only one of those lightning deaths in 2010 involved an open vehicle - motorcycle in Colorado. None involved bicycles.

Do you stop bicycling when there are cars on the road? Statistically, perhaps one should ride in thunderstorms and stay off the roads.

We are one of the lightning centers of the US of A.

Each year our TV stations have lightning safety specials - one after the other, again and again; yet nothing about vehicle safety, speeding, following too close, drunk driving, bicycle safety, etc.

I don't get it.
It's not the lightening so much as what it is a potential precursor to. Extremely heavy rain, high winds, hail and the possibility of the occasional twister. None of those are conditions I really want to ride in, so if I hear thunder or see lightening, then I am taking shelter, ASAP. Vehicles are a common hazard, but I take precautions there too, such as being as visible as possible and using a mirror so that I see cars that are going to pass to close.
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Old 06-23-11, 10:12 PM   #17
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Serious question: Does anyone know of a documented incident of a cyclist struck by lightning while riding?
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Old 06-24-11, 05:26 AM   #18
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Serious question: Does anyone know of a documented incident of a cyclist struck by lightning while riding?
Detailed descriptions of causes of all US of A lightning deaths from 2006 to present can be found at:

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/statistics.htm

I looked at the data and found 2 bicycle/lightning deaths since 2005

15 yo GA 2007

16 yo CO 2008

There were several motorcycle deaths

However, these were deaths, not people struck.

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Old 06-24-11, 05:51 AM   #19
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thanks for the heads up. will avoid potato chips and tents. however ..... I choose to select my risks. Cars on road? hard to avoid but I can adjust my ride and be as obnoxiously visible as possible. Lightening? I'd really rather avoid this when possible. Something about roast me is not appealing. Lightening is part of the package of rain, wind, low visibility did I miss anything? If I am out and about on a ride there's not much I can do but cringe when one strikes nearby but I don't willingly jump outside when it's lightening in the area. That's just me. YMMV.
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Old 06-24-11, 06:07 AM   #20
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Just for your future info, everyone

lightning, not lightening
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Old 06-24-11, 06:19 AM   #21
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Just for your future info, everyone

lightning, not lightening
Yeah, yeah, yeah... sometimes the fingers just cruise along the keyboard while the brain is in neutral. But, really I choose that spelling because I didn't want this thread getting too heavy.
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Old 06-24-11, 06:25 AM   #22
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Yeah, yeah, yeah... sometimes the fingers just cruise along the keyboard while the brain is in neutral. But, really I choose that spelling because I didn't want this thread getting too heavy.
It's almost as common as advice/advise, which still drives me nuts, and lose/loose
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Old 06-24-11, 06:30 AM   #23
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It's almost as common as advice/advise, which still drives me nuts, and lose/loose
The verb vs noun quandry can be a lightning rod kind of discussion for this group. Are you sure we should go there?
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Old 06-24-11, 06:35 AM   #24
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The verb vs noun quandry can be a lightning rod kind of discussion for this group. Are you sure we should go there?
My advise is to avoid it, thereby lightning the load so we don't loose anyone from the discussion.
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Old 06-24-11, 09:52 AM   #25
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What is the point of the title of this thread? Do you really imagine that "50+ bicycle safety" is somehow a special topic?

Honestly, that's what annoys me most about this board. Any topic of general interest is imagined to be special somehow as applied to old-timers.

Try venturing out into the more general forums. You might like it.
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