Fall is always a challenging time of the year for bicyclists in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers. It is rainy and windy, and we have to dress in layers because one moment it will be in the 50s and damp, and the next, the sun comes out and it warms right up.
Road conditions are an even larger concern. Leaves can mask other dangers on the road — debris that can shred tires, or nasty potholes that can send us crashing to the pavement. Wet leaves are a year-round hazard. Helmets, essential any time of year, are even more critical for all ages in the fall.
Now this week, bicyclists learned they will need to dodge more than the usual falling wet leaves and occasional leaf piles. According to a news report here, New York State has told landfill operators to no longer accept bagged yard waste. That means many more Elmira and other Chemung County residents will have to rake their leaves out to the street or road.
Now I know the public works people ask residents to rake their leaves to the curb, not in the road. But since most residents don’t want the leaves blowing right back into their yards, they usually plop them in the gutter, off their property.
That’s where it causes major headaches and potential hazards for bicyclists. Beyond adding more wet leaves (and probably grass and other yard waste) to our streets and roads, it gives us another hazard to steer around! And the change in policy guarantees there will be many more piles forcing cyclists further out into the travel lanes.
Many times, the leaf piles are bigger than parked cars, so we are forced to veer into traffic more — something most motorists aren’t patient with. Often, they can’t see the leaf pile that we see! Besides, they will drive through a leaf pile rather than veer around it. That’s not an option for us.
So, my fellow bicyclists, do you have any suggestions to share that will make riding this season safer? Some bike groups have advocated for abolishing leaf pickup programs? What do you think?
Thanks for reading, and remember to ride safe this season!
James B. Reed
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)