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Old 08-22-2012, 08:24 AM   #1
LarryRickenbacker OP
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Night time country commuting


Yesterday I enrolled in graduate school. In 3 years I plan to retire from teaching Sp. Ed and transition to a new career as a Licensed Psychological Counselor. My first night class is some 23 miles away and involves a country commute. A perfect job for my trusty Honda Sh150i, given current gas prices?
I'm an urban commuter. I'm concerned about things crossing the road like various critters (a local doctor was killed by a Deer recently on his BMW bike in the pre-dawn hours) and the odd tire tread laying across the road. Am I being a wuss or should I simply saddle up, use my brights and watch my speed on my way home?
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:34 AM   #2
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Well, learn to trust your "inner radar". My brother-in-law has it. There were several times we were driving thru central Illinois, in a wooded area, and he would slow down. Sure enough, within a quarter mile, deer would be crossing or be on the side of the road. I asked him how he did that (if there were 'warning signs') and he replied he just "knew".

That said, I would invest in some LED driving lights. If you'll be out in the country, pretty much by yourself, put some candle power to use. Inmate 'sanjoh' sells LED driving lights and controllers. I believe that for about $150 you could have a set-up that will highly illuminate your route without taxing the electrical system on your scoot. Supposedly deer are pretty predictable with respect to their location (they have "runs" and will cross roads at pretty much the same locations). See if you can pick up on their habits. This isn't the "magic wand" but you'll know when/where to be extra cautious. Also, try not to think about anything else while you're on the scoot. Having your mind wander leads to Bad Things.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:41 AM   #3
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To tell you the truth, I'm not a big fan of it, just to much rolling the dice IMO. I take a longer route home when I'm working at night to avoid deer. If I was going to ride in a heavy deer crossing area regularly, I'd slow way down.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:03 AM   #4
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My daily commute has me driving home pre or right at dawn most days. The old Riva 125 gets ridden through 16 miles of farm land, forest preserves and along a river and some creeks. Some of the trek is on roads that barely qualify as two lane.
I've been driving/riding these roads for years. Experience taught me...
Opossums are traffic stupid. You will have to drive around many of them.
Raccoons will run if you use your horn, usually.
Turkeys will not attack you unless you drive right at them. They will scatter if given the chance. Do not stop among them to take a picture!
Deer may do truly stupid stuff. Usually they will run off, but some times they will jump right in front of traffic. They do tend to stop near the road side first, so if you are paying attention, they can be dealt with. They have chosen to run parallel to me in the past while looking right at me. It's kind of fun, but they do stupid stuff, so watch them.
Skunks are worth stopping for. Remember, they can spray about twenty feet.
Foxes and coyotes are scared of vehicles. Wolves, not so much.
Cattle are bigger than you and know it. They are seldom wandering alone. There is an open gate or something and one will follow the other.
All of them together are safer to be around than jack asses driving cars in town.
Enjoy the pleasant ride, wear protective gear, and as said before, make sure you have good lighting. A compressed gas horn may be a good idea for your own peace of mind. The animals will pay no more attention to it than the bikes unit.
Those dear whistles do seem to deter the suicidal beasts.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:09 AM   #5
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I would consider what speeds you will be riding. If it's only a 35-45 MPH road, you will have much more time to react than a 55-60 MPH road. Also, try driving it a few times and see how many critters & roadkill you see. Lots of critters and high speed road and I'd be driving. Otherwise, riding beats driving a cage
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:13 PM   #6
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This is a subject I know a little bit about. First of all , its not the deer you see that will be the problem , its the ones you don't see that will be the ones that hit you. I live in the North woods of Wisconsin and have been hit by many deer in my trucks and cars. Here is what I would do to give yourself a fighting chance. Install a head light modulator and use it in the day time. Obveously you can not use it at night. Second I would install an electronic deer avoidance system. The only one proven to work in all situations is " The Hornet " This was tested in a rural northern Cal. county along with some other things called deer wistles. It works ! Deer are color blind but they pick up movement and the modulating head light will draw their attention . Then slow down and watch you peripheral vision for deer as much as you can. If you can get a scoot with ABS brakes it will come in handy sooner or latter. Finally try not to be on the road at dusk or dawn . That is about all you can do. ( witch is actually quite a bit ) with these measures you will cut your chances of being hit by a deer by 80 to 90 %. By the way the Hornet works for all animals not just deer. Animals stop in there tracks when they here the sound it makes because it is not a common noise they here. It comes with a an off switch so you can turn it on only when you need it.( turn it off when your in the city. turn it on before you get on the roads with the high deer collision probability.) I keep mine on about 90% of the time because I am not in towns all that much. You will hear it, especially when you pull into a garage.

lifer screwed with this post 08-22-2012 at 01:36 PM
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:39 PM   #7
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I ride these kind of roads all the time on my cruises. Usually on my Shadow, but applies to scoots same thing.

First off, when it comes to smaller animals, try NOT to swerve for them. Espically squirrels for example. Just run the little fucker over! I've done it on both my Shadow and my Elite at varies speeds, with only the squirrel dying. If you sweve, theres a chance theres a car on the other side of the road, and hitting a car head on is far worse than any animal [espically at 55 MPH, chances are you won't make it out alive, thats basically like 110 MPH, if y'all are both doing 55 MPH! On a bike, I don't think you'll make it. Even if the road is pretty remote, theres cars will be here now and then.

When it comes to deer, I've never hit one, but I think the same applies. Now if you CAN see on the other side of the road [such as a long straight away] and you are sure no cars is coming, by all means swerve if its big like a deer. BUT, around corners, and where there could be a car coming, or one without it's headlights on, etc, just try and get around, but don't go to far onto the other lane. If you hit a deer at 55 MPH, you may be killed, or hurt bad, but you got higher chances than with a car.

But hell, honestly while animals are unpredictable, you can't say all those asshole road raged jerks in a rush to work are predictable! Like flying across 3 lanes of traffic without looking, etc, just as bad! I'd say reducing speeds on roads with a lot of deer. I mean chances are you can stop to much slower speeds if you got good lights. Otherwise others have given pretty good advice.

As far as critters and bugs and such, I think you'll start to learn more about what different bugs taste like!

I say just take precautions, don't go overly fast, and make sure you got good lighting you'll be fine. And don't forget its not that much worse than the city, espically commuter freeways! Yea you here about people hit deers on bikes, but you also hear a lot about people killed but a wreckless driver, a drunk driver, etc. Good luck! I think you'll enjoy it!
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:26 PM   #8
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It might happen but getting to know the area helps. eg I know theres going to a lots of deer in one area at night if I ride through there. Also knowing the season helps. eg Rutting season seem to be when male deer and also humans well disregard every thing in there path if they can get some white tall or any colour tail . If you see one deer slow the hell down because there may be more then one there. Deer whilse are suppose to help but the verdict is out on them. Then again there 15 bucks and if it works you ll never know ether way. Just mount and forget. Your more likely I feel to hit by a human then a deer. the odds of hitting a deer run 1 in 1100 . I think the odds are far less every time you get on a bike that car is going to hit you rather then a deer. Ride equipped with full gear and you more then likely be safe. Anything can happen include getting rear end by lawn mower in LA and spend 2 plus year fighting for cash. That ones under the faceplant section here. In four years I ve been downed twice by cars and yet to have an issue with deer. Be thankful its not Russian because there they still have to deal with tigers on the road. LOL video link
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fullmetalscooter screwed with this post 08-23-2012 at 12:00 AM
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:51 PM   #9
LarryRickenbacker OP
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Thanks all


Thanks for all the helpful replies. I'll make my first trip via truck, seeing as how i don't even know exactly where the location will be. After that, I'll consider my fuel-sipping Sh150i.
The wife just informed me that she doesn't want me commuting 23 miles into the country at night! to figure out some excuse to take the scooter ;)

LarryRickenbacker screwed with this post 08-23-2012 at 09:14 PM Reason: update
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:51 PM   #10
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I don't know anything about deer at night, but know heaps about kangaroos, sheep, cattle, buffalo, rabbits, emus.......even the occasional echidna! It's my view that when confronted by a sudden unusual sound, they get spooked, but nearly always go dead still for a second before flight. If they are just over a crest or round a bend, and you're doing over 110kph, you sometimes see them just before the flight hop. If you're doing less than 100kph, then you may just see the tail as they have already left.
Oh, unless it's sheep, then they're still running around in circles in the middle of the road........."Baaahh, whaaaat's thaaaaat?" Sheep are really dumb.

Probably travelled at night out here for about 1/4 of my total distance travelled over the last 30 years. Good lights help a lot, if you're lights are crap, then keep the speed within the "braking distance" afforded by the lights you got. Don't be scared of the dark, you'll tense up and that will make you ride like shite. Animals will move earlier if they hear you coming, I detest open drag pipes (each to their own though), but a tinny sparrow fart out the pipes and they won't hear you so won't move. Get comfy clothes, it's amazing how much more alert you are when you don't have frozen snot under the helmet........

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:12 PM   #11
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We have massive amounts of deer and various wildlife in my area, and I agree with btcn.

Don't swerve for little animals. For that matter, try not to swerve for the big ones either. If I'm not mistaken, your scoot has the combined braking system? One of the most common ways to crash with deer is laying it down due to over doing it with the rear brake. Your scoot will stop really fast, if you practice emergency stopping.

Extra lighting will help you see them preparing to enter the roadway. Not a bad idea, but I bet the Honda has some pretty good stock lighting.

Wear your gear consistantly. If you hit something, chances are you will slide for a while. Full face helmet and the proper clothing will save your bacon. The full face helmet will also help you avoid that dinner of bugs.

Don't stop for groups of deer in the road. Cars often rear end people stopped in the road waiting for deer to move along. Just slow down (as in sub-5mph), and pass between them.

Finally; keep your cell phone on your person (assuming you have reception in that area). If you slide into a ditch, and are separated from your scoot, it will be nice to have it within reach.

I say go for it! Country commuting at sane speeds is far safer than city riding. If you are burning the candle at both ends, working and going to school, you are also far more likely to fall asleep at the wheel of a car than hanging on to those handle bars. I really struggle with that in the company truck, but never have a problem on the bike. Enjoy that commute!
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:51 PM   #12
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There are a couple places I semi-regularly see deer up in Breckenridge. I know where they tend to cross the road and pay particular attention in those areas. The key for me is to not outrun your headlights. Pay attention and don't try to second guess what the critters will do. The advice about not trying to go around small critters is valid, same with slamming on your brakes. Slow down by all means, pay attention and most critters will get out of the way if they know you are there - exception are dumb deer. The foxes for example may stop in the middle of the road but they will move away from you when you get close. Away from town the foxes do tend to be leery of people/machines so they'll stay off the road if they hear or see you coming. Which is another reason not to outrun your headlights/sound.

I just drove back from Colorado to Houston with at least 8 hours of night driving through country roads. I saw one group of deer well to the side of the road that if I hadn't been paying attention would have easily missed. Fortunately, they stayed well off the road. One final note, make sure your headlights are properly adjusted. The one vehicle/deer accident I've been in (and I wasn't driving) one of the headlights had gotten angled so it was hitting some of the brush on the side of the road which apparently scared a deer that bounded out without time to do anything other than hit it.
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:20 PM   #13
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Bad enough the Deer popping out and doing the Macarena in your headlights directly in front, the ones that strike you from a side impact you will not be able to see or avoid. Deer seem mesmerized by bright headlamps and are really unpredictable, beware!
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:29 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Warney View Post
Bad enough the Deer popping out and doing the Macarena in your headlights directly in front, the ones that strike you from a side impact you will not be able to see or avoid. Deer seem mesmerized by bright headlamps and are really unpredictable, beware!
This is a very true statement. Deer are the most unpredictable of any animal out there. I believe that when they see a light they can not see behind it so they think it is a small object and becuse of that they sometimes move in front of it. Thinking it is not a threat. That is why most collisions involve younger deer. The old ones learn it is a threat. There are exceptions though. I had a large buck hit the side of my car once that was on a dead run with its nose to the ground. It was during the rut and I believe he was hot on the trail of a doe and never even looked up . I hit his head with my drivers side headlight and his body rolled around and crushed the front fender, drivers door and the rear quarter pannel. He did a 360 and never missed a beat and ran into the woods on the does trail. I was doing 60 mph they are tough animals.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:45 AM   #15
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I got sideswipped by a black bear in Alaska just after crossing the border from Canada.

He plowed right into my leg and got knocked out by my sidecase.
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