Avoiding Animals While Riding Your Motorcycle

Avoiding Animals While Riding Your Motorcycle

When I first started riding, one of the sage pieces of advice that I received regarding dealing with animals out on the road was: “if you you can eat it in one sitting, you can ride over it.” Sure appetites may vary, but there’s probably some truth to that.

Tip: Dealing with Chasing Dogs

Don’t kick or swerve towards the dog. Vary your speed by slowing down and speeding up until you can put it safely behind you. This technique keeps the dog unable to estimate where you will be in relation to them.

I’m happy to report that has worked for me when I needed it.

Avoiding Bambi – Deer

Being a NY Metro girl, the biggest animals I usually have to deal with are deer. Such a sweet looking animal can strike terror in your heart when you see them up close and personal on the roadways.

If you see deer signs posted, here’s an idea… heed their warning! Slow down and scan the shoulder as you ride. Deer often move in groups so if you see one, expect to see another.

Be extra mindful during the early morning and at dusk, this is when deer are often active. One good thing to note is that a deer’s eyes will often reflect light to give them away when they aren’t in plain sight. The Blue Ridge Parkway Journeys blog has some good tips for avoiding deer collisions.

Brake for Moose

Moose are huge. If you see moose crossing signs, slow down and keep your eyes open. They won’t necessarily be frightened by the sound of your bike so be prepared to stop.  The Heart of New England offers some advice on how to prepare yourself to ride in moose country.

Moose spotted in Maine
Moose spotted in Maine

In 2003, I took my first ride to Maine. I can still remember sitting at lunch saying “I hope we get to see a moose.” I wish I knew then that it would put a check mark in the foreshadowing column of my scorecard.

As the dark settled in, Mother Nature unleashed a storm on us as we worked our way across the unlit Kancamagus Highway. I sat tucked behind the anemic headlights of my Ducati 996 following Kenny. With no streetlights helping us along, we rode through the dark rainy night. Suddenly a hulking, dark shape stepped towards the roadway. As Kenny applied his brakes, my wet visor went red with the reflection of his taillight and I saw nothing for a moment. My only thought as I began to brake was ”Oh God, please let it keep moving.’

Luckily, the moose did just that and continued it’s walk across the road. I saw my first moose but it was nothing like I’d planned.

Kenny and the Bear in Cooke City, Montana
Kenny and the bear in Cooke City, Montana

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!

On a trip through Yellowstone in 2005, Kenny and I used a minivan as cover to get around three ornery looking buffalo that were in the roadway.  We did our best to improvise by putting the van between us and them.

Though buffalo appear to be docile and minding their own business doing buffalo things, it’s important to remember they are wild animals;  2,000 pound, unpredictable wild animals.  It’s best to keep your distance.

Buffalo in the road - Yellowstone

In Sequoia National Park, I nearly peed in my pants after almost hitting a bear. I was entirely unprepared to even see a bear let alone be what felt like a few inches away from one on the bike. That also cured me of “wanting to see a bear.”

And then there was this other time I was riding with Kenny and he swears he saw a Jackalope… but that’s a story for another day.

Let’s hear from you:

  • Do devices like deer whistles work?
  • What’s the most biggest and/or most interesting animal you’ve encountered on the road?
  • Do you have any safety tips to share?
  • What’s the weirdest animal crossing sign you’ve ever seen? Turtles, Grizzly Bear, etc.
On the road of life you can never completely insulate yourself from danger but you can take steps to minimize your risk.

11 Replies to “Avoiding Animals While Riding Your Motorcycle”

  1. Good tips & great bear story! My only encounter with anything larger than a deer (we’ve got LOADS of them around here) was an escaped juvenile cow blocking a tiny lane between farms in the PA Amish country. She wouldn’t budge despite my yelling and gesturing so (being a dumb suburbanite) I duck-walked my bike right up to her and stopped parallel, thinking I would smack her on the rump with my right hand and she’d move on. Then I realized that all the cow had to do was turn a little and she’d knock me right over, so I gave in and did a u-turn.

  2. Worst experience i had with an animal was a deer. I had just pulled onto my road from a long day in the saddle and was cruising in the other lane with my brother in the right lane when it jumped out. It missed my brother easily but came within inches of my front wheel, i slammed the brakes as soon as i saw it which saved the day.

    That’s what i get for riding in the wrong lane with nobody around thinking the road is clear. The deer was probably mad at me for being in the left lane.

  3. Smart post. Thanks for the tips.

    My oddest encounter came when I was sailing around a blind curve in PA and — CRAP! — there were several cows standing in the road, completely blocking it. Fortunately I had enough space to panic-brake before hitting them. They were huge and utterly (udderly?) unconcerned about my approaching motorcycle.

  4. We had a friend who had the same situation occur with free-range cows who positioned themselves blocking the roadway around a corner. Sadly, she was killed in the ensuing accident when she attempted to avoid them. RIP Purplefeet 🙁

    1. Hey Ralph-
      Why do you have to be such a creep? 😉 I kid. I saw Nick the other night 😆

      Life is sometimes unfair, ruthless and tragic. Events like loss of life keep you on your toes and serve as a harsh reminder to take of yourself as much as you have the power to do so and to appreciate your time here on the big blue marble.

  5. My Bear encounter went something like this. While traveling East and entering Fernie, British Columbia, the highway is very wide. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something on the far edge of the road and thought to myself, “That is the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.” then it started to run across the road…really fast. Not at me mind you just across the road but by the time it was directly in front of me it was only about twenty yards away. Someone asked why i didn’t take a picture. Fact is i do have kind of a big bike, but not big enough to hide behind if a bear is coming for me.

  6. Turtle Crossing: I was in the sidecar of my husbands Ural. We were driving down a nice country road in central PA, when the largest turtle I have ever seen appeared in the middle of the road. I jumped out of the sidecar, took a deep breath, picked it up and carried it to the side of the road. I wasn’t sure how heavy it would be, and didn’t want to drop it. The turtle continued walk thru the grass off the roadside, and we went on our merry way.

    1. Hiya Lynne-
      I’m a turtle saver too 🙂 I can’t bare the thought of them not making across the road. I’m surprised at just how many we see out here on Long Island.

      ..and I’m a little jealous you get to ride in the sidecar. It must be fun. That’s on my bucket list!

  7. In Sweden the speed limit can drop in the countryside because of the solid moose. We saw one just off the roadside and I’m sure the Guzzi would have bounced right off it.

    Two strange animal crossing signs for you Fuzz, they have an ‘Otter Crossing’ sign on the Orkney Islands off the north Scottish coast and every year a road about 10 miles away from us is closed and has a ‘Toad Crossing’ alert.

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