Rambling Roads: High Road Grass

By George A. Hancock runnergah@comcast.net

High roadside grass is a serious roadside issue. Of course, not so if you reside in the concrete jungle of large cities, unless you go for a longer run out in the countryside.

The warmer late spring coupled with copious rainfall produced a bumper crop of this roadside grass. This grass is taller than me right now. And, at this writing, very few if any municipalities out my way have cut this thriving crop. Even PennDot with greater resources and manpower has not cut or trimmed this roadside grass. This means numerous roadside issues confront the running public.

The primary high roadside grass issue is visibility. The high grass hides runners, walkers, and even cyclists. A pedestrian moving near that high grass becomes invisible to passing motorists. The higher that grass the more it tends to droop.

Drooping high grass for one reason or another induces motorists to drive closer to the center of roads. Even though that grass will not harm a vehicle’s finish, individuals tend to move over while driving. That practice creates crashing issues for those driving nearby. Toss in a few curves and one has a recipe for vehicle collisions.

Of course, that high grass hides critters moving from the grassy areas to the road surface. White-tailed deer are the prime animal involved here. The grass blocks their movements. The deer just suddenly appear in our paths.

Rabbits, coyotes, even groundhogs also move through these areas. Hitting these critters is never pleasant. Nor is swerving to avoid them and swinging into another vehicle’s path. Vehicle-collision repairs are expensive and collisions are sometimes deadly.

There is another issue associated with this high grass. Ticks are frequently waiting here for a warm-blooded victim. Many runners and walkers pick up tick hitchhikers by brushing into this grassy area. A moving victim is very tasty. The blood supply is near perfect. And most victims never realize the vulnerability this high roadside grass creates for them.

So, if you frequently run near or in high grassy areas please check yourself for tick hitchhikers. Not every tick carries Lyme disease but performing a thorough skin check is wise. Ticks are hungry critters.

Intersections are also a tricky issue here. The motorist is blind due to that growing high grass. Visibility is nonexistent. The motorists need to carefully drive their vehicle into the roadway in order to see in any direction. For example, in my area at the Berwick Road-Wissinger Road intersection, a motorist must place three quarters of their vehicle in the roadway before turning left or right.

This issue is further compounded since the high grass hides vehicles driving up the Wissinger Road hill. Motorists moving on the Berwick Road never see these vehicles. Likewise approaching pedestrians are invisible to traffic.

So, is there a sensible solution to this issue? Well yeah, that high roadside grass needs to be cut. The property belongs to someone. The property owner bears the responsibility for maintenance.  However, these are frequently absentee owners and the cutting responsibility defaults to the local municipality.

Cutting roadside grass is expensive and labor intensive. Many municipalities do not own the proper cutting equipment.  Trimming that high grass by hand is tedious and also expensive if a local government lacks sufficient manpower.

I’ve noticed local neighbors jumping in and cutting this grass at various intersections. These volunteers cut and trim back that high grass. We appreciate their efforts. Thank You!

The municipalities in my region cut and trim to the best of their abilities. It’s simply a long process. These hard-working crews were faced with road repairs, patching, and shell removal. Our weather patterns produced this bumper-high grass crop.

Very few local hay fields in my area were cut as of this writing. The farm crews no doubt will tackle this chore soon. Hay is a very valuable commodity these days.

The summer run continues. Running alert and cautious in these high grassy areas is prudent. A smart observant runner lives to run another day. So run smart, run well!



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