Dealing With Wildlife

Eli Post


Biking, like any outdoor sport, has its dangers. We share the road with automobiles, and in New England we also must be wary of the road surface itself.

What is not more generally reported on is the living, breathing dangers you can encounter. And that doesn’t mean motorists or other cyclists.

You may not have to be wary of the lions, tigers and bears that Dorothy and her friends feared, but there are other threats you could face from the animal kingdom.

Dogs may be “man’s best friend” but run-ins with Fido are frequently the cause of accidents. The most common occurrence is to be riding along and a local dog comes out of nowhere and gives chase.

It is best to stop and dismount with the bike between you and the dog. Shouting “go home” might do the trick. I was once on a ride with a friend, and a dog came after us. In a confident tone he shouted “get off the couch” and the dog came to an abrupt stop. I believe the dog heard this comment before and recognized he was dealing with a dominant party who might be on the verge of punishing it.. Reminding Rover who is the boss may be to the key to making a dog behave.

There are also dogs on leashes with an owner not paying attention. Either he or she is not holding the leash tightly enough or it is one of those long ones giving the dog ample room to stray into your path. In those situations, all you can do is slow down when approaching and be prepared for evasive maneuvers.

This article was inspired by two successive close encounters I experienced on a bike path the other day. A squirrel crossed directly in front of me and I didn’t think much of it. But a moment later a deer emerged from the bushes. The deer and I stared at each other, and after a few seconds he went his merry way.

While it’s impossible to predict animal encounters, you should be aware of risks while in their habitat, which these days can be almost anywhere. If you are riding in a forested area, of course, you are more likely to encounter a wandering animal, and you should be scanning the road ahead.(Photo shows geese blocking the bike path. Photo by Eli Post)

In addition to potential dangers, some creatures just don’t buy into sharing the road. Ever come across a gaggle of geese hogging the road, desecrating the pavment, and oblivious to all around them? And don’t get me started on the slow-moving trains of turkey friends crossing the road. Those are the days you wish Thanksgiving was just around the corner. (Photo by Alex Post shows the author making way for a turkey crossing the road.)


If you have further interest in how wildlife can interact with cyclists, this video will interest you, Watch Video


This article benefited from expert editing by Tim Wilson.