Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Cycling in Canada

I have borrowed a mountain bike and been cycling around Albert County, New Brunswick.  There is a mandatory helmet law here for adults as well as children.  I am unable to report on how well respected, or enforced, this law is, as I have not come across another cyclist on my travels (save a few young children riding helmetless on the pavement).  [Postscript: I have now seen a few, but the only adult I have seen wearing a helmet was in the City of Moncton and he was on the pavement].  If the Provincial legislature were serious about promoting cycling they could usefully start by cracking down on the pet dogs that are permitted to roam the rural roads.  Many roads here have virtually no traffic.  The wildlife is generally shy.  Locals tell me they seldom see bears, but I spotted one this afternoon on my ride.  Travelling more slowly and more quietly on a bicycle makes it possible to see a lot that is hidden to the motorist.  At first I thought I saw a very large dog but as I got closer it was clearly a black bear,  I slowed right down, unsure what to do, and was somewhat relieved when a pick up truck coming the other way caused it to spring back into the woods.
Domestic creatures (dogs) are intrigued by the unusual sight of a cyclist and are inclined to give chase; so far I have been able to outsprint them but if I encounter one going uphill a confrontation seems possible.
I am starting to stick to 'busier' roads where the occasional passing car means that owners have trained their pets to stay off the roads and the more dangerous wildlife is likely to be some way back in the woods.
Motorists here are generally highly considerate of cyclists; this may be the opposite of 'safety in numbers'.  I am sufficiently unusual to be noticed and it is easier to give a cyclist plenty of space if nothing else is around and I am probably the only cyclist they pass in a week.
It is good to have challenges that differ so much from those I face on the usual commute into work.
Albert County, New Brunswick...more bears than people


  1. I've been chased by savage dogs from time to time while cycling through remote areas such as the Maghreb and Eastern Turkey. My policy is to dismount, collect a few suitably large stones (or whatever is to hand) while the dog is approaching and then start throwing the projectiles at the dog once it's in range. The dog always stops short. I then walk (rather than ride) away steadily, pausing to collect/throw more stones as necessary, until the dog gives up and turns back. Can lead to delays of a few minutes but it works for me.

  2. I'm rather relieved to see this blog post after the news of the unnamed cyclist killed in Staines last week, then no posts from you until now.

    I'm glad it was holidays, not bad news, that caused the hiatus.

  3. Thanks. I am very sorry to learn of the death of a cyclist in Staines. A lot could be done to improve the safety of cyclists, particularly on the dual carriageways in that area. I have little doubt it was an entirely avoidable tragedy.

  4. As with Heather above, I've been chased a whole lot by huge dogs in Turkey - the best tip I was taught is simply to spray them with water. Never failed to make them stop dead and turn on their heels.