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What You Can Do to Keep Cyclists Safe this Summer (Even if You're Not a Cyclist)

July 16, 2022

Mountaineer News

BUCKHANNON - Think of the dangers of yard work and we typically think of mower blades, rock shrapnel or ankles lacerated by weed whackers.

But another danger lurks: Yard clippings sprayed onto the street by a mower or blasted onto the road by a leaf blower can have deadly consequences for motorcycle riders.

‘Almost Like Ice’

Grass clippings, especially when they’re moist, slicken the road. Grass clippings are about 85 percent water. Motorcycles are far more vulnerable to sliding than cars because bikes have just one drive wheel which needs to stay in contact with the road. The same is true for bicycles.

Mowers: Prevent Road Clippings With These Steps

The first step in fixing the issue is for homeowners and lawn mowers to be aware that casting clippings into the street is not just an innocuous activity. These steps should be enough to avoid it:

  • Most newer mowers with side dischargers come with a chute or cover that keeps the clippings from scattering. Use it.

  • Mulching mowers also help. They chop clippings into finer particles and return them directly to the lawn. (It’s better for your lawn to mulch your clippings than to bag them -or spray them in the street.)

  • Can’t mulch? Put the grass catcher bag on the mower to avoid throwing clippings into the street.

  • Be a mannerly mower: Cut your yard from the outside edges in, aiming the discharger away from the street. This may lead to some clumping as you move to the inside, but a little time with a rake is better than a lifetime of regret.

  • Cyclists bear part of the safety responsibility, too. Bikers who encounter clippings to slow down but keep the bike 'smooth and steady'. Get on clear pavement as soon as possible.

Maddening as encountering carelessly scattered clippings can be, bikers should also keep their cool. A little courtesy goes a long way.

Add Clipping Concerns to Your Mowing Safety List

Add “keep clippings out of the road” to your pre-mowing safety checklist, in between “children stay inside” and “pick up debris.” Mowing, trimming and edging are such routine chores it’s easy to forget the dangers, but mowing accidents injure on average roughly 6,400 Americans every year. The average hospital cost: $37,000 per admission.

The last thing any of us want is to add a motorcycle or bicyclist injury or death to the toll.

From the City of Buckhannon:

Editor's Note: This article was previously published on June 22, 2022. Please help keep others safe by removing your yard clippings from the streets and roadways.

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