Let’s share the road safely
As warmer weather approaches and everyone is out and about enjoying themselves, I just wanted to take a moment to thank those folks who are mindfully sharing the road with horses and their riders to ensure everyone is safe, including persons operating vehicles.
Horses can be spooked by many things: revving engines of passing vehicles, motorcycles, sounds of different road conditions (driving/splashing through a puddle), the loud thud of a tire hitting a pothole, stones on dirt roads can kick up and hit a horse, or maybe you are pulling a trailer and it rattles or makes loud noises.
Bicycles approaching from behind can easily spook a horse. They don’t make noise and seemingly come out of nowhere for a horse, which often results in a bolting horse. As a bicyclist, if you are approaching a horse, it’s best to call out to the rider so they can prepare for your approach, and slow your speed. A simple “Bike!” would work just to give the rider a heads-up.
Even the best trained horses can spook and make unexpected movements, including jumping into the roadway. For everyone’s safety, including you as the operator of the vehicle: announce yourself if coming from behind on a bicycle, make sure to slow down to a cautious speed, and move over a reasonable distance to provide some “safe space.” Please do not honk your horns; this would likely spook even the most well trained horses.
Vermont law states “the operator of a motor vehicle shall operate the vehicle in such a manner as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of any animal and to ensure the safety and protection of the animal and the person riding…” (23 V.S.A. § 1127).
And to the riders, please also be considerate of others on the roadway. Ride single file to the side so you’re not blocking the flow of traffic. Wearing bright-colored clothing will help oncoming traffic see you better. Be respectful of landowners and don’t ride on lawns; ask permission before riding on someone’s property.
Everyone must share the road, so please be courteous and exercise caution so it’s enjoyable and safe for all.
VershireMORE IN Letters
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