Animal hazards to cyclists


I’ve been thinking about animal hazards to cyclists recently, that is non-human animal hazards, and also about how those vary from place to place.

Every morning I ride to work along our riverside bike path. It’s usually got at least a couple of spots where Canada geese, or as we call them here “geese,” are walking across. Geese make me nervous. And it turns out I’m right to be nervous. This summer a woman in Ottawa needed stitches on her face and suffered a concussion after being attacked while riding her bike. The CBC story is here.

An Ottawa cyclist says a surprise attack by a Canada goose left her with a concussion and fractured cheekbone, and a renewed respect for nature.

Kerry Surman was riding along the Trans Canada Trail from her home in the west Ottawa neighbourhood of Stittsville to Carleton Place, Ont., on June 10 when she came across a family of geese crossing the bike path.
Kerry Surman said she has a “healthy respect for nature” following her encounter with the goose.
​Surman saw two adult geese and a gaggle of goslings cross before one final adult goose made its way through the trail, and she figured the path was clear.
“I thought, ‘If I just zip past I’ll be fine,'” Surman said. “But I misjudged how fast I was going and the goose misjudged my intentions.

“What I remember is the goose giving me the evil eye and then the goose wrapping its wings around my head, and I can’t see and I hear myself screaming,” she said.

Any other animals I regularly encounter that scare me as a cyclist? In rural areas it’s off leash dogs. Often they don’t mean to hurt cyclists but dashing into the pack of bikes causes crashes. There’s even one who regularly chases cyclists on country roads north of my city with a ball in his mouth. “Stop and play with me please! ”

I was surprised in New Zealand that dogs weren’t an issue. I rode often in rural areas. Lots of sheep, no rogue dogs. They’re working dogs. I expect they either behave and do their job or meet an untimely end.

On my bike tour in Newfoundland we had moose dash across the highway in front of us. On Manitoulin Island it was snakes and turtles. But no dashing there.

In Australia it was kangaroos. Big and bouncy and a definite hazard to cyclists. Also swooping magpies. Yikes. Oh, and snakes. Most Australian email I received was on the campus cyclists list warning me of an angry brown snake on the cycle path to campus. How do you make a snake less angry? I just avoided the path that week.

What animals get in the way of bikes where you ride?





Thanks Lyndsey Vivian for the photo. Taken on Mt. Stromlo, Canberra.

9 thoughts on “Animal hazards to cyclists

    1. Are you in Australia? That’s where I first encountered them. I was descending one time and one started attacking my helmet and then hung on to the back of my jersey pecking my helmet. At the bottom of the hill, I made people laugh by asking if it was still there!

      1. Yep! They are ferocious! My partner was speared in the scalp by one that had a very good eye and gotthrough an airhole in her helmet!

  1. Skunks, Raccoons, Deer, and Rabbits are all hazards on my early morning ride. Oh! And Squirrels…let’s not forget Squirrels.

  2. Our dog is very anti-bike! If we see a bike coming we have to hold his lead very tight and get as far back from the road as we can, sometimes stand in the ditch, because he barks like crazy and lunges for them. It’s not just bikes though – he hates Land Rovers too 😀 and sometimes road signs make him very suspicious and he growls at them 😉 He’s a sweetheart when you get to know him.

  3. I once had a close encounter with a horse that’s left me with a lasting fear of going anywhere near one when I’m on my bike. I was on my way to work one morning, through central London, and came up behind two police officers on horseback. They were clearly moving towards the centre of the road in order to turn right, so I slowed down until they had moved far enough away from the left-hand kerb for me to pass. Unfortunately I don’t think the horse closest to me was expecting me to do that, so it got spooked. I was quite surprised as I would’ve thought a police horse in London would be used to movement all around it.

  4. Yes squirrels and chipmunks are a hazard on the bike trails especially when they can’t decide and dart back into the path at the very last second. I especially don’t like loose dogs, even the friendly ones can cause problems for bikes.

    I enjoyed reading the wide range of options in your post and how they vary from country to county.

  5. Gosh, love that photo snap of kangaroo. What a surprise.

    Well, we’ve spotted black bear not far away in the Rockies while on bikes. Yes geese are protective of their babies and territory.

    Farm dogs in Maritimes when we did cycle touring about 20 years ago. It was a constant problem because they were not leashed.

    Several times, bighorn sheep (those curved horns) in the Rockies is something to be alert.

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