Don't fall for fall: Watch ouf for leaves in the bike lane
by Amelia Brown
Autumn in Toronto is wonderful. The trees turn fiery orange and drop their beautiful leaves, which get toasted and crunchy in the sun.
That warm fall scent in the air? It's the delicious odour of leaves rotting beneath you. And under those innocent-looking piles you would have jumped in as a kid lurks a dark force (ie pothole) that could knock you off your bike. Add rain into the recipe and it's a potential disaster.
This is a public service announcement:
Don't fall for fall.
Here are some tips to keep you safely mounted on your bike as the weather turns colder and new hazards - like slick wet piles of rotting leaves - present themselves in the streets.
1) Watch out for those leaves!
Besides being slippery, you never know whether there will be a pothole (it's actually pretty likely on Toronto's bumpy streets) or a stick or other debris underneath.
When possible, avoid riding over leaves. Signal, look behind you and — if it is safe — go around them.
If you do have to pass over a pile of leaves, go slowly and wait until you've passed before you break, accelerate or turn.
When a pile of leaves is in your trajectory, start braking before you get to them and ease off the brakes as you pass over. Speeding up or turning over leaves may cause you to lose traction and slip, so go slowly and wait for solid ground.
2) Get those lights out and use them!
Equipping your bike with lights from dusk till dawn, besides being the law, is essential for your safety. Night falls earlier in the autumn months, and dusk can hit before you've even left work. It's absolutely necessary to have a white light on the front and a red light on the back of your bicycle.
Reflective gear and using your hand signals will also help you to be seen by other road users.
3) Dress for the weather!
As we have witnessed these last few months, fall weather is unpredictable. Be ready by wearing and/or packing layers. Keep long scarves and coats tucked safely away from your gears and wheels.
4) Keep maintained!
Wet, cold weather and debris on the streets can take a toll on your bike, which makes it even harder to get around. Make sure that you're keeping your tires pumped and your chain clean and in good shape.
When dressed for the weather and prepared for the terrain, fall is a wonderful time to enjoy sights and smells of the season from the seat of your bicycle.
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