Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Helpful tips to stay safe on your bike this autumn

With mild weather, there's no reason for cyclists to hang up their helmets in October. Warmer temperatures and little risk of freeze mean that many bicycle enthusiasts can safely stay on the road through November with the right equipment. Biking in the fall can be thrilling, with brisk winds, fresh scents and beautiful foliage to enjoy. Consider adjusting your air pressure in your tires for lower temperatures and be sure to do regular maintenance and inspections of your bike for any issues with the wheels, chain or gears.

Of course, biking in the fall presents its own set of risks as well as benefits. There are a lot of considerations, from changing sunlight and cooler temperatures to falling leaves and tree watchers who aren't paying attention to the road. With a little extra care, you can stay safe and reduce your risk of a serious bicycle-car collision. Although you can't eliminate the risk entirely, you can make your commute or joy ride safer.

Adjust your clothing and gear for weather

More than any other season, the fall demands that cyclists dress in layers. It may be freezing when you start your ride, but if the sun comes up, you could end up sweating profusely. Dressing in warm layers, with a wicking fabric closest to your skin, can help keep you comfortable and dry. You should also look into waterproof outerwear and shoes. Wear a pair of gloves, and consider ear coverings that won't interfere with the fit of your helmet.

You should also invest in a pair of goggles, if you haven't already. A protective layer between your eyes and the open air can keep you aware of your surroundings. Leaf litter, rain and even dirt can end up in your face, impairing your vision. Keep your eyes safe and focused on what's next by wearing goggles when you bike, especially in the rain.

Visibility is a major concern in autumn

Staying visible is often the most important thing bikers can do to increase their safety. Far too many vehicle-bike collisions are the result of a driver who didn't see the person on the bike. That risk increases in the fall, when fewer drivers will even think to look for people on bikes. Combine that with the visual distraction of the fall colors and shorter days, and you have a perfect recipe for an accident.

If you don't already have lights on your bike or gear, now's the time to invest. You should put them on if you're on the roads within an hour of sunrise or sunset. Reflectors can also help, but their range is more limited.

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