As the weather warms, more people hit the bike paths, which is a wonderful thing. Wonderful, unless these cyclists do not know or do not care about common courtesy and basic bike-path etiquette.
Case in point, just yesterday as I was riding my trusty red three-wheel cycle down the bike path, a man whizzed past me without warning. Startled and perturbed, but not injured, I just muttered to myself that at his age he should know better. As I was muttering from that encounter, a woman pulled onto the path from a side street nearly knocking me down. She flashed me a smile and peddled away. I, on the other hand, was not smiling. My heart pounded so loudly the squirrels were alarmed.
These two instances were minor infractions, but still frightening and could have resulted in injury–mine. Therefore, before I or anyone else requires a brand-new pink cast, it is best to review some bike-path etiquette rules.
Yell it or bell it!
Given the very simple solution, it is amazing that so many cyclists insist on terrorizing others on the bike path. After all, it is frightening to have someone flash by us when we do not expect it. This is especially true for the elderly or infirm, as they often feel threatened by fast moving riders.
Thus, when passing anyone, whether it is another cyclist or pedestrian, we need to give that person some sort of warning. If not using a bell, yell out “Passing on your left!” If passing a large group, elderly, or those with small children, it is best to slow down before passing just in case they didn’t hear the warning or they wander out in front of us.
Want to chat? Stay off the path!
More often than I would like, I am forced off the path by a group of chatters. Although it appears friendly enough, it is frustrating for cyclists to have to stop and wait for conversationalists to scoot out of the way. Most frustrating are those who refuse to move! Unfortunately, this is often the case. Since my trike is much heavier than the typical bicycle, riding it off the path onto grass is not possible. I am forced to stop and walk my trike around the oblivious crowd, which makes my usual cherry “Good morning!” I shout to everyone a bit difficult to deliver.
Chatty pedestrians are not the only road blockers. Other cyclists are equally guilty. Some will ride side-by-side using the entire width of the bike path without regard to others who wish to share the public space.
To block a public path is viewed as dismissive, impolite behavior. So, when the need to converse arises, step off the path.
Runners, you do not own the path.
Running, especially running in organized groups, is extremely popular here in my hometown of Davis, CA. It is refreshing to see scores of people of all ages enjoying this healthful sport. What is not refreshing is to be forced off the path by a pack of tights-wearing running enthusiasts. Many of these groups are quite large and very chatty. Consequently, when passing from behind, I must yell multiple warnings of my slowly passing wide load (trikes are wide) for all to hear me.
Therefore, runners, mind your manners. Do not take up the entire width of the path and designate one person to announce a passing cyclist.
Obey the leash laws.
I love dogs, always have. Because of this love, it would break my heart to hurt a wandering furry one with my heavy trike. It would not make my day to be bitten by one either. Our town, like most, has a leash law to help prevent situations like this. However, many do not feel the law pertains to them. After all, his or her dog is special and would never hurt anyone else–very well mannered. Even so, why take the chance? It is best to obey the law. It is safer for your dog and all who encounter your dog. Use the leash.
A bike path is a shared space. It is a place of enjoyment for walkers, runners, cyclists, birders…everyone. If we can all remember that a smile is warmer than a frown, a kind word is softer than a critical remark, and sharing is sweeter than hoarding, perhaps we can enjoy this shared space even more. Treat all on the path as if they are your friends. Who knows? Some just may be one day.
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