In the mid-to-late 1960s there was a show called Lost in Space that always ended with a cliffhanger. More often than not, that cliffhanger was emphasized by a protective robot shouting out “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” and ineffectually flailing his arms (made out of vacuum cleaner hose) about. I grew up watching this show (which was in syndication by the 1970s, when I was a kid) and it’s an image that often pops to mind when I come across something that could be a real danger hazard… as happened a couple of nights ago when I was leaving the post office.
I often pop into the post office as the first of several errand running stops which usually end at the grocery store. So I tend to take my car. When I pull into the parking lot, there’s a sewer drain in the middle of the entrance/exit that I always make a point to avoid. But I’m generally there when it’s light out, the drain is easy to see, and even if I hit it with my car, it’s more of a pain than a problem because my tires are plenty wide not to fall through the cracks.
Not so on my bicycle! I was leaving the parking lot in the dark. And though my headlight is plenty bright to see the danger before me, I just didn’t have my internal danger radar running and wasn’t paying enough attention. Thankfully I was traveling slow enough that when the grate grabbed my back tire and held on for all its worth, I didn’t go flying through the air, ineffectually flailing my arms like the television robot.
Since the post office is a federal building, I’m not even sure where to begin to go about getting that grate changed. (I’m open to suggestions.) But it’s gotten me to wondering where else there are serious hazards like this in areas where bicyclists might be traveling. I think we all know to watch out for storm grates, sewer lids, and other hazards right in the bike lane. (Grrrrr!) But are there any hazards that people might not think to be watching out for that you know of around town? What’s your “Danger, Will Robinson!” level pet peeve when you’re biking around town?