Obstacles can be a real problem. It doesn’t take much to knock you off your bike. Even a small animal would probably put you down. Small animals will generally get out of the way, but I’ve come fairly close to deer and since they manage to be hit by cars, I worry about them. Unfortunately, animals aren’t your biggest problem when it comes to obstacles. There are two types of obstacles I’ve had to work with many times – cars and trash.
I fairly frequently come up on cars in the bike lane. I use rear view mirrors and what I generally do is carefully pass the car by going out into the street. Sometimes I need to stop and let traffic go by. Sometimes I need to get off and walk around the side of the car out of traffic. From a safety perspective, walking around is probably the best approach, particularly for suburban biking.
Trash is my nemesis. Let’s start with litter. It really doesn’t talk a lot to knock you off your bike so when the litter includes cans, dumped bags, bottles and such, I weave through it. I actually do this with pretty much any type of litter – I slow down and weave my way through it.
Where I’ve messed up is with large trash cans. The problem is that they can hide things (note that cars can do the same). In the past I’ve generally pulled into traffic to pass them and that would be how I broke my collarbone when I ran into a second trashcan I couldn’t see. So I have a new plan. From now on the plan is to stop, move the trashcan and maybe leave a note asking that it not be left in the bike lane. I’ll try not to be too snotty in the note and I’ll likely come up with something I keep in my biking bag for these occasions.
Now if I could only pickup and move cars and deer!