Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wildlife Riskier for Bicyclists

The grizzly mauling of a teen bicyclist in Anchorage's Bicentennial Park earlier this week was a tragic illustration of the danger of running into large and potentially dangerous wildlife in Alaska's biggest city. I got a taste of it myself this morning.

As I was cycling to work along 100th Ave, I noticed a moose right next to the bike path. As I came closer, I saw the twin calves. I knew that wasn't a good sign, even `tho the cow was steadfastly ignoring the cars whizzing past less than 10 feet from them.

I dismounted, waited for lull in traffic and headed for the other side of the street while still 50 meters or more from her. I must still have looked threatening to the cow and she started coming at me.

Fortunately, a motorist had slowed down to get a look at the moose -- or to shield me -- so I pedaled along on the other side of the car until well past her ladyship. Moose are plenty dangerous, especially when they are accompanied by calves. At least two Anchorage residents have been killed by moose in recent years. This one was planning on neutralizing me as a threat to her little ones.

A week earlier I had another encounter with a moose, but was able to turn about and go the other direction.

I don't plan to quit cycling, but it's obvious that "defensive driving" is just as important on the cycle seat as in the driver's seat.

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