Saturday, September 28, 2013

Riding Safely in Critterville

Have you ever thought about where the majority of those critters come from when you see them about to dart into the road ahead of you?

I'm not talking about suburban rides versus country rides.  Or rides past or through woods versus fields either.  This is the moment of truth.  The last chance you get to scan the road before you to catch that reflective flash, that outline of fur standing at the edge of the tarmac.

I've spoken about this phenomenon with a few friends and the observation seems to be universal.  Here in the northern Midwest U.S., road crossing animals are on the right side of the road more often than I ever see them trying to cut in front of me from my left.  I have no idea why this is, but it's been a consistent piece of data for me.  They almost always come from the right.

Which doesn't seem to make sense because an animal could be on either side of the road at any given moment, right?

Oddly, out here in the country I've seen critters cross the other way, from their own "right" side when no traffic was present yet risk their lives by attempting to cross from their "left".  I can't put a reason to it but realized long ago that I ride prepared for this as yet unexplained observation.

I ride as close to the middle of the road as I can whenever possible.  More reaction time is what I'm after and so far this system has worked for me.  The critters almost always try to cross from my right.

I can see someone looking to contradict me and that's fine.  My experiences won't mirror everyone else's riding experiences.  I just thought it would be worth writing about why I ride toward the middle of the road whenever I can.  Especially from dawn to dusk.  I also slow way down during those hours. 



Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Hadn't even thought about it but now that you mention it, almost every one of our hits, as well as the near misses, have been from the right side.

Like you, I do what I can to make as much road available as possible, especially so in certain areas, when forced to be out past prime daylight, no road ditches, etc.

David Masse said...

Harv, this is serious.

I have had several squirrels force me to take evasive action. One particularly energetic and stupid specimen managed to end its days under my back wheel. He (or she) did come at me from the right side of the road, though there were squirrelly zigs sags before the final dive.

On my tour this past summer the last leg of the trip took me up through the wilds of New Hampshire and Vermont on I-91. I crossed the border at 6:30 pm, much later in the day than I would have liked. I made it out of deer and moose country by about 8:00 pm. Too close for comfort.

As dusk approached the shadows got longer and made spotting wildlife all the more challenging. Several times I got a whiff of what a hunting friend later told me was deer musk. Didn't see any deeer though, except on the many, many warning signs for moose and deer. It was tense.

The one critter I did see was a gopher poised to cross I-91 from my left. It was the only non-flat critter I saw on my tour.

None of this does anything to prove or disprove your theory that may be dead-on (pardon the dark pun).

The only thing that would worry me would be paying too much attention to the right, and being taken out by some suicidal and wrong-headed mammal springing from the left.

One of the good things about commuting in Montreal, is that it's an island basically without any large critters like deer or moose. 95% of my riding is commuting so I worry about this a little less than I otherwise might.

Great post.

American Scooterist Blog said...

Thank you guys. It's just something I've noticed.


American Scooterist Blog said...

Thank you guys. It's just something I've noticed.


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