As we are all devoted and passionate about cycling, we must remind and encourage members and friends to practice proper trail etiquette. Below is an article that was published in the Greenville News by one of our members. Please help make the trail safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Practice Proper Trail Etiquette
Not long ago I was riding my bicycle along a local multi-use trail, one of the many nationwide Rails to Trails paved paths. On this particular day I was towing a small trailer with a toddler nestled comfortably inside. Perhaps that is what made me keenly aware of my surroundings and the activities of my trail mates.
The path itself is riddled with bumps, curves, occasional puddles, uneven edges, debris and intersections with roads. That is enough to require undivided attention so that my passenger and I are safe. Now add to the mix all of the other people out having their own cycling, running, walking, rollerblading, skateboarding and dog-walking adventures. Little bikes, big bikes, fast bikes, reclining bikes, baby buggies, training wheels, wheelchairs, toddlers, teens, elderly and sometimes horses. Get the idea? Whew! It is a good thing motorized vehicles are not allowed.
It is possible to enjoy all of those activities and more and remain safe. But every trail user needs to understand some simple “rules of the road.” No there is not a test. Have you heard of small craft warnings on the water? Picture for a moment a huge vessel cruising along a waterway surrounded by tiny boats. Which has more maneuverability? Which is able to get out of the way more easily to avoid a hazard? Right, the small boats.
Now picture this: Three walkers, side-by-side, engaged in lively conversation out for a lunchtime walk on the shaded trail. There is a runner with her leashed dog on the opposite side coming toward the three, a bicycle in the distance, closing on the group and a large pack of cyclists coming up behind the three walkers.
Do I hear cursing? Not at all. The closest cyclist coming from behind yells, “ON YOUR LEFT, LARGE GROUP.” The phrase is repeated, if necessary, to alert the walkers. Then a ballet begins. The walkers immediately move single file to their right, the runner on the opposite side who sees the bicycles coming reigns in her dog and moves to her right, the oncoming cyclist slows down, and the large group of cyclists slowly passes single file, thanking the walkers and runner as they pass. Everybody is safe, their activity minimally interrupted.
The pedestrians have more maneuverability in this example than the pack of moving bicycles. The single bicycle can easily yield to the pedestrians.
Every situation is unique. All trail users need to own responsibility for safety. The dance needs to happen, and we might as well enjoy it. It is a multi-use trail. Let us all be kind to each other on the trail and stay safe.
Here are some rules of trail etiquette:
1. Signal intent to pass with a bell or verbal warning.
2. Hear the signal. Leave the ear buds home, leave one out, or buy the type that let in outside sound.
3. Move to the right, pass to the left.
4. Be aware of others using the trail. Example: Rollerbladers may need a bit more room for passing because they move side to side. Small children on bicycles need a lot of room because they are wobbly and may become frightened, etc.
5. Dog leash should be no more than 8 ft, and pet needs to be reined in while being passed. Scoop poop.
6. Move off the trail if stopped.
I hope to see you on the trail soon, pursuing your favorite activities. I hope to see cyclists wearing helmets, and I know I will be hearing more bells dinging and people yelling “On your left!”
Mary Clark is a registered nurse and trail user who lives in Greenville.