Cyclists are vulnerable to numerous hazards on the road. That’s why we all take safety precautions like wearing protective headwear and reflective garments, not to mention a high level of awareness concerning our surroundings.
No one wants to get hurt out there. But sometimes we’re having so much fun, we lose track of our vulnerability. Other times, we’re distracted, looking for a place to drink a coffee or a beer, or eat lunch.
So, we’re offering this brief PSA on the six road hazards to heed. We want you to be out there enjoying the freedom and joy of the two-wheeled life, not nursing a nasty road rash, or something more serious. We want you all to come home from your next ride in one piece.
If you’re planning on riding in the rural West, you’re going to come across cattle guards. Designed to keep cattle from going too far from the ranch, these rows of metal bars need to be approached with caution.
Some are marked with caution signs. Others aren’t. Either walk your bike or take a careful perpendicular approach.
Dogs are great. But dogs are also a problem, when you’re riding and they come at your bike at high speed. Remember that Rover probably doesn’t want to attack you. He’s just hardwired to chase anything that moves.
An airhorn is a big help. A couple of blasts will distract Rover long enough for you to get some daylight between the two of you. Strap it on and have it ready.
Train tracks are not to be taken lightly. Sure, they don’t look like they’re going to take you down, but many riders have fallen prey. Your best bet is to be alert while crossing and to ride across the tracks at a 45-degree angle to their position. Pay special attention when the tracks are wet. Ride over them without due care and attention and it’s easy to go down.
Gravel and chip seal (gravel over tar) should be avoided by cyclists at all costs. Whenever gravel is involved, unnecessary effort is bound to be expended. Find another way to get where you’re going.
Anything metal on the road, like a manhole cover or an open grated bridge is going to be slick when wet. Our advice is to avoid all metal surfaces when it’s raining. If that’s not possible, use your best judgment and due care.
To fill or not to fill (it doesn’t matter)
Cracks, whether they’re filled or not, are the last of the six road hazards to heed. When roads settle, cracks capable of tearing up your tires can form. Cross over them on the perpendicular.
In summer, cracks which have been filled are subject to the heat. This turns the fill material into a sticky goo which is also perilously slippery. A filled crack is just as bad as an unfilled crack, presenting a serious hazard to cyclists.
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