January 24, 2013
If you ask a traveling cyclist about their scariest moment on a bike, many of them will respond with a tale about an encounter with a loose dog.
This is a situation which cyclists can encounter on roads across the U.S. and around the world. Though we haven't formally tracked the number of reports we've received from each U.S. state, anecdotally it seems like Kentucky holds the lead in cyclist vs. dog encounters in the U.S.
When I recently spoke with Troy Hearn, Kentucky Bicycle Pedestrian Program Coordinator, about the issue he didn't shy away. Troy, a long-time cyclist, knows firsthand there are trade offs to riding the great, low-traffic roads of rural Kentucky on routes like our TransAmerica Trail. "Truth is," he said, "dogs roam free on our country roads."
Going on numbers alone, Kentucky hosts the second-highest number of miles on the TransAm, so it's possible the reports are slightly skewed by vastness of Kentucky's roads and not just the nature of the communities that rest along them. While we have talked about the possibility of a reroute in Kentucky, it doesn't look promising. In order to retain the rural aspect of the route it isn't likely we'd find another set of roads that would be dramatically different in this respect.
All that being said, what should you do when you see Rover on the road ahead of you? There are many tactics you might employ, each with it's own positives and negatives, several of which are described in these articles recommended by Troy as resources: Dealing with Dogs and Cycling with Aggressive Dogs Around.
If you have a particularly scary encounter with a dog on one of our routes, please report it to us with as much information as you can about the location on a map correction card or to @acaroutes on Twitter with the route-specific hashtag. If we can pinpoint problem areas, we can alert future cyclists about these stretches via our online addenda system.
Photo from markstos's Flickr photostream: This is the kind of behavior traveling cyclists prefer in their dog encounters.
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.