Saturday, June 22, 2013

Share The Trails

While running on a single track trail this morning a cyclist approached from behind. He was travelling at a good pace and he gave no warning as he zoomed by on my left side nearly clipping me. Truth be known, his disregard for my safety got me angry.  It also got me thinking... thinking about how much it would hurt to be hit from behind by a rogue cyclist! Thinking about the degree of fear we feel as we are passed without warning is directly proportional to the speed and clearance of the person passing us.  

Near the end of the run, my negativity cleared and I realized that to slag cyclists would be toxic and not fair.  Many cyclists practice good trail etiquette by slowing down and ringing a bell before they pass a pedestrian.  After all, I have three bikes and I enjoy cycling, but my passion is running, so it is from this perspective from which I speak.  

I've been running and cycling on city trails for much of my life and I've learned a thing or two. I've made many errors in judgement, both as a runner and as a cyclist. I've had several near misses, and I am ashamed of some of my actions, but I have learned from my mistakes, and I believe I now practice good trail etiquette. Indulge me as I share my vision of trail etiquette. These are my working assumptions; whether or not they are valid is for you to determine.  

Working Assumptions of Good Trail Etiquette
  • We all have the right to use trails.
  • We are respectful of one another.
  • We yield to those more vulnerable.
  • We give warning as we pass. 
  • We are mindful of our speed.
  • We run, walk, and cycle on the right and pass on the left.
  • We don't clog the trail by riding, running, or walking in a pack
  • We understand that if we use headphones we are hyper-aware of our surroundings.
  • We slow down, we ring a bell, and we give a 1 metre berth when passing on a bicycle.
  • We say "pass left" while - as a runner- we pass walkers or slower runners.
And for the visual learners among us, here's a flow chart of what I think  trail etiquette should look like. It's based entirely on speed vs vulnerability.  Simply, the faster you travel (typically bicycles) the greater the risk there is for a collision. I know many will disagree and that's entirely your right, however, if you don't agree with my vision of trail etiquette, what is yours?

Cyclists yield to all below.

Runners yield to all below.
Walkers yield to all below.
People in wheelchairs have right of way over all the above.
We all look out for children and give them a wide berth.
Equally, we all look out for the elderly and give them a smile and a nod as we pass slowly.
Get out there and enjoy the trails!  Be safe.  Run on the right, pass on the left.

It's a good day to be alive.