Accidents Can Happen When You Least Expect One

Eli Post

We share the roads with motorists, but they are not the only menace we face when we ride. There are other surprising dangers that can get you hurt, and we need to watch out for them.

The following list is drawn from personal experience, and reports from friends. None are fabricated, and all qualify as having the potential to cause harm:

  • A playful dog, not on a leash, sees you spinning along, and does not realize there are spokes in your wheels. It thinks it can hop through the wheel and enjoy a playful romp. Because you have to be moving fast for the spokes to be invisible to the dog, it’s an encounter that can end badly for both of you.
  • You are moving along on a wooded country road, unaware that a rotted tree has lost its stability and is about to snap and fall across the road. It’s just a matter of luck and timing if it doesn’t smack you on the head.
  • The road was recently paved so you become more relaxed not noticing an unexpected crack that will snag your front wheel and force you to the side.
  • It rained recently and there are puddles everywhere. You don’t realize one of the puddles fills a deep hole and you get caught in it.
  • You are crossing a busy road and look left and right before crossing. There is a traffic light on one side, and a vehicle decides to squeeze by a light already red.
  • Beware of squirrels. They can dart out from bushes on the side of your path, and hitting one is trouble.
  • When a driver parks and without looking opens the door in a rider’s path, this is known as “dooring.” Cyclists moving at high speeds frequently do not have enough chance to react before colliding with an open car door, which usually results in severe injuries.
  • The weather says it has warmed, and the snow/ice from a previous storm is gone. However, one road is low and shaded, making it a few degrees colder. A patch of ice you didn’t expect hasn’t melted and your wheels lose traction.
  • A rider comes upon a road construction project where the road was closed to cars, but a police officer waves him through.  What at first seemed like good fortune that avoided a detour, turns into a major problem as he can no longer steer the bike due to about a one-inch build-up of road tar on his tires.
  • A cyclist approaches a T-intersection with a busy road where the route turns right. A car is approaching from the left but there appears to be plenty of time to make the turn. Keeping a wary eye on the approaching vehicle, the rider doesn’t see a 4-inch-deep pile of sand on the corner and goes down.
  • It’s a windy day and you’re riding through a neighborhood shortly after the trash truck came through. As you pass a home, a gust picks up an empty trash barrel and sends it sailing across the road in front of you.
  • The two riders were on a country road in Sudbury, and decided to take a break. Ahead they noticed a truck with a worker on a ladder or crane, and he was dealing with overhead cables. The truck was off to the side, out of their way, so they ended their break and started off when they heard a loud thud by their side. The cable had slipped out of the utility poles that held it, and a long stretch fell just a few feet from where they were riding. It’s many years later and I can still hear that thud, but we escaped injury and went our merry way.

This article is not meant to frighten you or discourage you from riding. Its purpose is to encourage you to keep in mind there are potential dangers you can encounter on a ride when you least expect it. The fact is, we face risks each day from the moment we step out of bed. But if we stay ready and alert, we can avoid many of them on and off the bike.



 We are grateful to Tim Wilson who edited this article.