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.