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Riding through a thunderstorm

essex-commuteressex-commuter Posts: 2,188
edited May 2011 in Commuting chat
Lightning overhead....safe? I stopped last night to let the storm pass over, waste of time?

Someone said to me last night that cycling in a thundestorm is safe because of the rubber tyres, is this true?

I've always thought (and said) that the safest place to be in a thunderstorm is in a car, perhaps it the same for a bike, same for wearing wellies, I have no idea really.

Stop or MTFU and ride on? Discuss.
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  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Ride on unless you've got a massive spike on your helmet!

    As you say even if you were struck it won't "earth" through the rubber tyres.

    In general in thunder storms as long as tehre is a gap between thunder & Lightening, teh storm isn't directly overhead so no danger of being struck.

    Probaby getting soaked but once you are wet you're wet.
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  • gtvlussogtvlusso Posts: 5,112
    Ride on - it only hurts when the hail starts.......then I would find shelter!
  • essex-commuteressex-commuter Posts: 2,188
    gtvlusso wrote:
    Ride on - it only hurts when the hail starts.......then I would find shelter!

    Which I got yesterday too. Took my shorts off when I got home and my legs were red raw from the thighs down!
  • kamiokandekamiokande Posts: 55
    I think if you're in an exposed area with few trees then it might be wise to seek shelter. If there are trees or buildings around you'll probably be ok, in my opinion.

    I don't buy into the rubber tyres thing. If the lighning can pass from the clouds to the ground then it shouldn't have much touble passing from a wheel rim to the ground. The reason cars are safe is the lightning can pass around the metal shell to the ground. Obviously on a bike your head is the highest point so if you were struck it would pass straight through you. A polystyrene helmet would be a very good insulator, so migh be wise to wear one in a thunderstorm!
  • KeimanPKeimanP Posts: 46
    Chances are you wouldn't get hit!

    You would be possibly insulated if it was dry, but the lightening would probably still conduct through the water that is coating the tyres?

    If your going to get hit, it'll happen, you probably won't know about it so no need to worry..
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  • MonkeyMonsterMonkeyMonster Posts: 4,628
    kamiokande wrote:
    I don't buy into the rubber tyres thing. If the lighning can pass from the clouds to the ground then it shouldn't have much touble passing from a wheel rim to the ground. The reason cars are safe is the lightning can pass around the metal shell to the ground. Obviously on a bike your head is the highest point so if you were struck it would pass straight through you. A polystyrene helmet would be a very good insulator, so migh be wise to wear one in a thunderstorm!

    It can of course pass from the rim to the ground HOWEVER its easier for it not to and as we know nature likes to do the easy things so it will preferentially ie take less energy to go straight to the ground over going through a rubberised you. There *might* be a case that if its so wet there is a straight connection via water which in that case you're buggered.
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  • AguilaAguila Posts: 622
    You're no more likely to be struck than if walking as your head is the highest point. safer than walking with an umbrella up. The tires are irrelevant, after all wearing shoes doesn't stop people gettng struck. You are highly unlikely to be struck but not impossible, personal choice.

    Of course you'll be perfectly safe if wearing a helmet :wink:
  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 9,757
    Wear a wire mesh on your helmet - Faraday Helmet :D
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  • gtvlussogtvlusso Posts: 5,112
    gtvlusso wrote:
    Ride on - it only hurts when the hail starts.......then I would find shelter!

    Which I got yesterday too. Took my shorts off when I got home and my legs were red raw from the thighs down!

    Ugh - fella, I feel your pain.....nothing like a covered bus shelter when that happens!
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    The tyres will conduct quite well when you have the potential (voltage) of lightening, wet or dry, just as they do when a car is struck, after all it's carbon that makes the rubber black and carbon is a good conductor.

    A car is safe as its a faraday cage, a bike is clearly not one.

    I wouldn't cycle across an exposed moorland/fen type road, but as a rule of thumb if you aren't the highest thing, your safe, its the tallest thing locally that gets hit.

    Simon
  • MonkeyMonsterMonkeyMonster Posts: 4,628
    after all it's carbon that makes the rubber black and carbon is a good conductor.

    Back to standard physics for you buddy...
    Le Cannon [98 Cannondale M400] [FCN: 8]
    The Mad Monkey [2013 Hoy 003] [FCN: 4]
  • UnderscoreUnderscore Posts: 730
    It can of course pass from the rim to the ground HOWEVER its easier for it not to and as we know nature likes to do the easy things so it will preferentially ie take less energy to go straight to the ground over going through a rubberised you

    Are you suggesting that the potential difference required to arc across 4-5 feet of damp air is less than that required to conduct through a couple feet of (damp) you, a couple feet of nice conductive bicycle frame and an inch of (damp) tyre? I doubt it. Plus you will have some localised field strengthening above your head - though the radius of your skull is pretty large so it may not be that significant...

    And, no, being on a bike is not the same as being in a car. In a car, you are inside something close to a Faraday cage - all the current is conducted around the cage and the inside of the cage is all at the same potential so there is no risk of being stuck by lightning while inside it. If, however, you were sat on the car, the same does not apply!

    However, I've ridden through one or two tremendous thunderstorms without worrying. Unless you are pretty much the highest point on fairly featureless landscape, I don't feel that the risk is too great.

    _
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    edited May 2011
    So carbon isn't used as the conducting brush in rotating machines then?

    Even the unfilled ones work just fine, and with 100,000V behind it rubber tyres will conduct just fine.

    Simon
  • SimonAHSimonAH Posts: 3,730
    I would suggest wearing wet copper armour and shouting "all gods are b*stards!" at the top of your lungs as you go.

    You will get the trifecta of being safe in your form-fitting Faraday cage, lighting up the landscape and annoying the everloving shoot out of any deities in the area.
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  • MonkeyMonsterMonkeyMonster Posts: 4,628
    Underscore wrote:
    Are you suggesting that the potential difference required to arc across 4-5 feet of damp air is less than that required to conduct through a couple feet of (damp) you, a couple feet of nice conductive bicycle frame and an inch of (damp) tyre? I doubt it. Plus you will have some localised field strengthening above your head - though the radius of your skull is pretty large so it may not be that significant...

    was more aiming at the idea of rubber being useful but it may indeed appear that you need a good couple of inches to make a difference... So platform shoes everyone.

    in other news carbon fibre is actually made of graphite (fibre) which is (one of) the conductive carbon types and seemingly does conduct quite well if accounts from the web are to be believed (in conjunction with normal physics). So you heard it here first - buy a diamond fibre bike for riding in the rain! with pure rubber solid wheels :D
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  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 9,757
    SimonAH wrote:
    I would suggest wearing wet copper armour and shouting "all gods are b*stards!" at the top of your lungs as you go.

    You will get the trifecta of being safe in your form-fitting Faraday cage, lighting up the landscape and annoying the everloving shoot out of any deities in the area.

    and then get run over by a lorry, proving that even Death has a sense of humour :wink:
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  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 22,339
    I've been cycling in a summer thunderstorm, when lightning struck in the field next to me. Plenty near enough I can tell you! And properly loud. Not the rumble you normally hear, but a big f***-off tearing bang sound. What stopped me though, was the flash flooding half a mile on - couldn't see the road, let alone the kerb.
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  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    Wear a wire mesh on your helmet - Faraday Helmet :D
    How about a farady suit?

    arc5.jpg
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • El GordoEl Gordo Posts: 394
    t4tomo wrote:
    In general in thunder storms as long as tehre is a gap between thunder & Lightening, teh storm isn't directly overhead so no danger of being struck.

    If there's a gap between the lightening and the thunder all that means is that the last bit of lightening didn't hit you. Thunderstorms are quite big and move around so who knows where the next one will strike.

    Connect a piece of copper strip from your helmet ( :shock: ) to your downtube and you'll be fine.
  • ConfusedboyConfusedboy Posts: 287
    'All gods are bastards'; interesting theological conundrum here. If you are not struck, does that prove that a) there are no gods, or b) not all gods are bastards and one is looking after you. If you are struck does that prove that a) there are no gods but the laws of physics still apply, or b) that all gods are bastards.

    Interesting.
  • dhopedhope Posts: 6,699
    'All gods are bastards'; interesting theological conundrum here. If you are not struck, does that prove that a) there are no gods, or b) not all gods are bastards and one is looking after you. If you are struck does that prove that a) there are no gods but the laws of physics still apply, or b) that all gods are bastards.

    Interesting.

    No, it proves none of the above. Simple logics innit.

    Actually, if you're not stuck it proves that not all gods are bastards, though that says nothing about whether there are any gods or not.
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  • SimonAHSimonAH Posts: 3,730
    They are Gods, and therefore ineffable.

    Or not.

    Perhaps you could take it another level deeper and say that because the lightning is an entirely unpredicatable event then you cannot in fact know if you have been struck or not until someone opens the armour to check whether or not you are dead?
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  • Kieran_BurnsKieran_Burns Posts: 9,757
    SimonAH wrote:
    They are Gods, and therefore ineffable.

    Or not.

    Perhaps you could take it another level deeper and say that because the lightning is an entirely unpredicatable event then you cannot in fact know if you have been struck or not until someone opens the armour to check whether or not you are dead?

    I am uncertain about your meaning...
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    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • Underscore wrote:
    Unless you are pretty much the highest point on fairly featureless landscape, I don't feel that the risk is too great.

    _

    Actually, it makes little difference if you're the highest thing on the landscape, lightning hits where it's going to hit. High points do make a difference, but that difference is roughly a cone of 45 degrees from the highest point. As such, if lightening was going to hit an oval of roughly 5 feet by 8 feet around you, it'll go for you instead. That's a pretty small area.
  • SimonAH wrote:
    They are Gods, and therefore ineffable.

    Or not.

    Perhaps you could take it another level deeper and say that because the lightning is an entirely unpredicatable event then you cannot in fact know if you have been struck or not until someone opens the armour to check whether or not you are dead?

    I am uncertain about your meaning...

    Thank-you, Mr. Heisenberg,
  • UnderscoreUnderscore Posts: 730
    SimonAH wrote:
    They are Gods, and therefore ineffable.

    Since God is in heaven and is ineffable, I now understand why people keep saying eff in hell...*
    SimonAH wrote:
    Perhaps you could take it another level deeper and say that because the lightning is an entirely unpredicatable event then you cannot in fact know if you have been struck or not until someone opens the armour to check whether or not you are dead?

    Now, there's no need to get catty about it!

    _

    * Inspired by Douglas Adams: "We shall grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all."
  • snailracersnailracer Posts: 968
    El Gordo wrote:
    ...
    Connect a piece of copper strip from your helmet ( :shock: ) to your downtube and you'll be fine.
    No you won't, the lightning going down the wire will magnetically induce enough current through your body to kill you and knock over any bystanders. Which is why standing under a tree in a thunderstorm is also dangerous. However, if you had LOTS of wires surrounding you, the resulting Faraday cage would protect you.

    Lightning striking a car will not directly affect the occupants because of the Faraday cage effect, however it blows out the tyres and the resulting crash would be the problem.
  • RoxsRoxs Posts: 6
    I don't think the tyres have much to do with it, if God hates you and your time is up you are screwed, otherwise your just going to get well and truly soaked )

    but do you really want to find out ..........
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    snailracer wrote:
    however it blows out the tyres and the resulting crash would be the problem.
    The Golf Richard Hammond was sat in on top gear with repeated strikes didn't blow out any tyres at all.......

    Simon
  • snailracersnailracer Posts: 968
    snailracer wrote:
    however it blows out the tyres and the resulting crash would be the problem.
    The Golf Richard Hammond was sat in on top gear with repeated strikes didn't blow out any tyres at all.......

    Simon
    Don't believe anything in Top Gear, it's all set up for amusement. Like the electric sports car that supposedly ran out of batteries and had to be pushed back to the paddock.

    An older motoring show did the same experiment, they ran a trailing wire from the car body to the ground to avoid burning out the tyres.

    In either case, simulated lightning strikes are not nearly as powerful as the real thing.
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