Safety Information

Construction Zones (Jun 2008 newsletter)

by Ted and Joyce Strutz

Orange barrel season is fast upon us. It seems to coincide quite well with our precious riding season. We riders need to be especially cautious in these construction zones.

Not only are fines doubled in the construction zones, but there are many different hazards that could rear their ugly head. The best thing to do is slow down, observe the speed limit signs, increase your following distance, and watch your lane position.

One of the biggest reasons to slow down and increase your following distance is the possibility of construction debris being kicked up by the vehicle in front of you. If you are following too closely you won’t have time to react as you should. You need to give yourself time to react too if there should be a sudden change in the road surface. They may have steel plates covering holes they have dug. There could be a sudden change to a milled surface if they are getting ready to pave. My all-time favorite is riding along on pavement and the next thing you know you are on dirt or gravel. That can really cause a major pucker factor.

Another nasty hazard is the edge trap. When paving is being done one lane can be as much as 1 1/2 inches higher than the other with no tapering. This is a significant difference, especially when you are on two wheels. It can literally snatch the handlebars from your hands. You need to avoid these if at all possible. If you have to cross one attack it as close to a 90 degree angle as possible to prevent your tires from sliding along the edge.

The main objective in construction zones is to remain very alert for all the possible hazards and be prepared to react quickly and safely. You want to do all you can to maintain a larger than normal buffer zone around you.