As the snow banks finally recede, more cyclists are back on the roads in Southern Maine. However, this can be a hazardous time to ride. A physician friend who commutes by bike to his job on the days that he safely can, told me he’s had three flats during the course of the winter.

Motorists who haven’t been on a bike since childhood often pay little attention to the surface of the paved road they are driving on unless jolted by an unseen pothole or particularly vicious frost heave. By contrast, most cyclists pay continual attention to the condition of the road surface ahead of them, as well as to the “aprons” along the road’s edge, where they would be accustomed to riding in warmer weather. At this time of year it is often necessary for a cyclist to move over into the traveling lane to avoid accumulations of sand, dirt, standing water and sometimes other objects along the roadside emerging as the snow melts back.

Drivers need to be alert to this possibility and if necessary move over to cross the center line when it is safe to do so. Winter or summer, it is state law to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space. Sharing the road means that cyclists and drivers should be paying extra attention at this time of year.

And to the thoughtless few who throw bottles from car windows, be aware that broken glass poses a serious risk of blown tires and more serious accidents for cyclists. Virtue should be its own reward, but if you try redeeming your bottles instead, you’ll be surprised how fast your nickels stack up.

Dr. Jim Maier