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Other Hazards

aka - Dead Skunk

Other Hazards are discussed below with several crash videos to emphasize the risks. Our hope in discussing Obstacles, Railroad Tracks, Animals and Other Hazards is not to scare you, but to prepare you to better handle road situations. Remember to call out hazards so all riders in your group get the message - pass information all the way back and all the way up the line!

Note: If the device you are using does not default to show the videos in full screen mode, click the 4 arrow icon located just to the left of the Vimeo logo in the lower right hand corner of the video bar.

  • Cracks that run parallel with your tire track can catch your tire just like a space around a railroad track. If you do find yourself caught in a parallel crack, it may be too late but you can try to pull directly up on your handlebars to pop your front tire out of the crack. Notice the different crack types and rider speeds in the two videos below. 
  • Bridge grates and expansion joints that are a little wider than your tires increases your chance of an accident. It may make more sense to walk your bike over a bridge with grates. Please see Section V.C. of the Safe Cycling Practices document for “great grate” information. 
  • Rain mixing with the oil and grease on the road causes slick spots. A little rain or dew also increases your risk on railroad tracks, bridges, painted road stripes, wood surfaces, and road tar. The pro riders lower their tire pressure when they ride or race in wet conditions, but these guys were probably at full pressure.
  • If you have to travel over bricks or cobblestones, use your arms as shock absorbers, drop into a bigger gear and lift your butt off the saddle. Often your bike will find its own natural path over the bricks.
  • Be careful of stickswet leaves, and finding out there is a huge hole lurking under that puddle you just decided to cruise through. Often the stick you ride over ends up in the spokes of the rider behind you.
  • Be ready for other bike path users like a walker on their phone, a jogger with earbuds, or a dog on one of those looooong flexible leashes. Tree roots can push up a road surface - we have all seen this on the bike path. Stop this video at 7 seconds to see the impact the root had on the road surface.
  • Other hazards on the side of the road include garbage cans, walnuts, hedge apples, road apples, sewer grates and of course parked cars. And, be careful around trucks and vans that have those extra large extended side mirrors as they can swipe you as the vehicle passes. A large semi truck can cause a strong gust of wind. Watch what happens when this cyclist rides over a simple manhole cover.
  • The famous 1972 song by Loudon Wainwright III is talking about a road hazard - “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”. (Trivia fact: Loudon was Captain Calvin Spalding, the "singing surgeon”, on MASH. ) Avoid road kill as it is smelly, slippery and can get all up in your wheel set…. 


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