Cold morning air, leaves swirling everywhere, and dark evening commutes – fall is definitely here. This brings new challenges for those of us who use our bikes to get around and enjoy Arlington. Luckily, they can all be overcome with a few easy shifts in our behavior and equipment.
You've , and you'll read it again – don't go out without a light. With a flip of the daylight saving time switch, many of our commutes moved from twilight to full on darkness. If you're hauling out the lights you used last year, don't forget to change the batteries. A fresh set will make a big difference in the brightness.
Speaking of brightness, I'm thrilled to see so many more commuters in bright colors this year than last, and hope that trend continues. Now if we could only convince our fellow trail users – the ninja runners – to do the same.
Many of us didn't have to give too much thought to what to wear when getting around on the bike this summer. Unless I was heading for a workout, I just got on my bike and pedaled. Now the big daytime shifts in temperature complicate things a bit.
We're not quite ready for the thick insulated jackets – you'll be a sweaty mess 10 minutes after you start pedaling – but office clothes certainly aren't going to cut it. I'm a fan of a good windproof shell jacket for this time of year. It's amazing how much warmer you feel once you get rid of the biting wind.
Finally, it's time to start paying a little more attention to what's on the road or trail. It will still be a while before ice is a regular challenge, but slippery leaves can be just as dangerous. Every year, the Custis Trail's perhaps over-dramatically named "S of Death" claims skin and paint from a surprising number of cyclists. They simply didn't realize how easy it is to lose control when turning over wet leaves and other plant debris.
So remember these things. Then get out and ride.
I want to highlight a recent presentation that took place at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's regional summit in Arlington. It's attorney Bruce Deming talking about what to do in the case of an accident. It's a great presentation in both style and content. I recommend spending the time to watch it. It contains some suggestions that I hadn't even thought about (and I've definitely given these things some thought).
Also, Tim Fricker at the Vienna Patch has on layering up and staying comfortable in bad weather.
Mark Blacknell is chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.