Jim Dodson: Good morning, it's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy, your bicycle injury and personal injury lawyer in Florida. So, are you safe in lightning on your bike?
Prompted to ask this question this week because there was a really sad situation that occurred on I-95 here in Florida of a motorcyclist who was riding in a lighting storm and was hit by lightning as he was riding on his motorcycle and crashed and died. There's some question whether the lightning took his life or whether the effect of the crash took his life.
But it made me wonder, we as cyclists face this issue all the time. And, I was talking to a client of mine in Central Florida just this week, and I asked this question, said, "What do you do when lightning is out?". This person said, "Well, I'm safe on my bike "because I've got my tires. "They're insulating me against lightning." So, I thought, "Well, I don't think that's accurate. "Let's look this up." So, I did some research on it, and the consensus seems to be that your tires on your bike are gonna offer zero protection against lighting. They're not enough to ground you, or insulate you, against lightning finding its way to the ground through your body. It's really no different than expecting the sole of your shoe, which is probably thicker than your bike tire, to ground you if you're walking as a pedestrian.
The word seems to be, and the research that I did, that we as cyclists are no safer than a pedestrian when it comes to being struck by lightning. I think that one of the biggest myths that is out there is that we're safe because we have these tires that ground us as we ride. I think there's also, the research seemed to indicate, that it's a myth that the tires on your car actually ground you. Apparently, we're safer in our cars because of what they call the Faraday Theorem, or whatever, but it's actually the fact that we're encased in metal and the way it distributes the power of the lightning around the car if the car gets struck.
I think the takeaway that I want to leave cyclists is that we are entering, I am taping this in June, we're entering into the true summer season. We've had a tremendous number of thunderstorms around us already this year, and many of us take long bike rides during the summer months, and we can be a long way from home. What do you do if lightning comes up? When I was a golfer, a few years ago, I was just astonished at people that would be standing on the golf course swinging a metal long golf club with lightning coming, and doing nothing about leaving the course. Or people that are piling onto the beach, and doing nothing about clearing the beach when a lightning storm is coming.
I've lived in Florida all my life. I've had enough experiences with lightning. I've got a healthy respect for it because it's fatal if you get hit. Doesn't even have to hit you, it can just be close enough, and the effects of the power can be fatal for us. And, as cyclists, we just have to remember that we're no safer than we would be as a pedestrian.
My son lives in Salt Lake City, and he just had an experience last weekend with lightning. He was on a trail ride up there near Park City, and huge thunderstorm came in, really we had a similar experience when we were in North Carolina one time hiking with crashing lightning all around, and he took shelter and got away from it, just like we did when we were there several years ago when he was in college. But, it can be a frightening experience. And, I think that we just need to be heads up. You don't wanna continue just riding. If you have an opportunity to get low, you don't wanna get on the ground you wanna get close to the ground. You want to crouch. If you're riding in a group, you don't want to all huddle together. You certainly don't want to huddle around a tree or around a metal pole. You need to disperse the group in the event that one person gets hit others will be there to render aid to that person. You don't want to all get affected by one strike. Those are just some considerations to bear in mind if you're faced with a situation where you have lightning coming around you.
It's interesting to me, though, I asked Kelly who's our intern for the summer, "So, Kelly, can you find one documented case "of a cyclist being struck by lightning in the news?". And, we couldn't find any. There's a reference to one she found in Croatia, but we couldn't find a story to verify it. At the same time, I found, myself, that there's been at least six documented situations in Florida of motorcyclists being hit by lightning. So, I just think we all have to act reasonably. We have a great sport. We want to leave and have a great time. We wanna come back healthy. Remember, we'll just dispel that myth about your tires providing insulation. Have a healthy respect for it, do what you can to avoid it, and enjoy the sport that we love so much every day.
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I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. I'm a bicycle injury and personal injury lawyer in Clearwater, but we represent clients throughout Florida. Take care, and have a good day. Bye.