Friday, 20 September 2013

Railroads Tracks, Speed Bumps, Road Depressions and Chuck holes… Hidden Hazards

I don’t know if you ever noticed, but every year on the Canadian prairies a few people and vehicles are hit and killed at railroad level crossings.  Why you ask? When the prairies are low rolling hills, and that is the high spots.  You can watch your dog run away for three days, so seeing what is happening around you should be a natural thing.

I bring this up for a basic reason, seeing what is happening around you.  I also want to talk about how to ride properly, you can read that as safely, over railroad tracks, speeds, road depressions and chuck holes.

All of these hidden hazards have a couple of things in common.  They all present a challenge that if you take them for granted.  They will come back to bite you and bring you down to ground level very quickly.  The other thing they have in common is how you set up on your bike to go over or around them.  Let’s be clear, when done correctly and given the respect they deserve, they can be handled with no problems, but get cocky, and you could likely pay a price.

The CAN-BIKE program refers to the proper procedure for crossing railroad tracks when riding as follows:
Your head is up and your back is straight, now you can see where you are going and what is happening around you !!!

1)      If moving into traffic, Shoulder check/Signal/Shoulder, signal prior to the movement on the riding surface.

2)      Stand up on your pedals, pedals set level to the ground, at 3/9,

3)      Bend your arms and legs using them like shock absorbers, keeping your balance.

4)      Go over the tracks at a 90 degree angle to the tracks, let the bike move up and down under you, keeping your centre of balance over the bike. 

5)      Roll over the tracks

6)      Move back into the proper riding position on the surface you are riding.

7)      Keep both hands on the handle bars as you go over the tracks

8)      Signal prior to the movement on the riding surface.

That should work in I would estimate in about 95% of the situations you will find yourself in.

Then I started asking myself, what about all those other bumps and depressions we as riders encounter in the span of a ride.
In my classes I added the other aspects, speed bumps, depressions and chuck holes in the riding surface.

Speed bumps, like chocolate cookie recipes come in a myriad of assorted sizes and shapes.  Some easier than others and some that are just plain ugly to ride over.  We’ve all seen the on road variety speed bump (traffic calming device) lower and gentle to go over.  Then there are the ones in parking lots, ment to slow traffic to a crawl over them.  You know the ones, they look and feel like a large tree has been cut in half and laid across the road.  Then they paint them a very slippery bright yellow, so when they get wet they are downright dangerous.

If you treat all like you treat railroad tracks, as listed above to go over them, then they can be handled much more easily, and your chances of taking an unwanted spill decrease, not eliminated, just decreased. Nothing is a sure bet.

Road depressions are ridden the same way, but be advised they are very dangerous.  If travelling at any speed you will quickly drop into the depression, then just as quickly come out.  The problem is when you come out your weight has lifted and your bike is riding with much less grip to the surface.  Down hillers are shaking their heads right now, saying they know the feeling.  That short time when you feel as if you are airborne, and for the most part you are, you don’t have control and therefore no real ability to turn or brake.  Not a big deal if you are going straight, but if you are coming into a corner, or a downhiller going around or into or out of a corner, then it becomes a very big deal. Some road depressions aren’t seen until you are in them, then you best be ready for what happens next.

All of the above hazards have hidden problems so properly setting up for them, riding them properly and knowing how to handle them becomes a skill that needs to be known and practiced.  You need to keep this in the back of your mind when riding - the hidden hazards.

Riding and riding safely is a thinking game and safety is what you work at each and every ride.

           Part of that safety is    See  Be Seen  Be Heard  Be Predictable

Knowing what is around you, getting the big picture and being prepared will greatly assist you.

A great ride, and getting home in one piece is the object we strive to achieve.

Please go over the above steps in your mind when you see them, for going over those things that we can’t avoid and go over.

Like everything else in life, being prepared for what could come is the responsible thing to do.  Being prepared is being safe when riding.


  Thanks for stopping by,
      Safe Ride Home

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