Bicyclist urges hikers: Stay right
Monte Schwarzwalder of Columbia wrote in to say he "couldn't agree more" with Monday's Getting There column stressing that bicyclists owe pedestrians in crosswalks as much deference as we require motorists to show (though we're often disappointed by both groups).
A bicyclist himself, Schwarzwalder offerd some suggestions to hikers on sharing hiker/biker trails with bikes. It would be easy to dismiss this as a representative of one group lecturing another, but his suggestions make good sense from both points of view. (I've been in both roles.)
When I ride on paths I always give out a lusty "Passing on the LEFT" as often
as needed. If I don't get their attention I try to be careful. Extra careful
around kids and strollers.
That said, pedestrians should:
1) ALWAYS move to the RIGHT, NOT the LEFT. This is where I'm supposed to pass you.
If you go to the left, you may get hit.
2) There is absolutely *no reason* to go OFF the trail. There is room for everyone.
Going off the trail is dangerous, unnecessary and often against the rules of the trail.
Please please please just move to the right.
3) When on a trail, some low level of awareness about what is around you isn't
asking too much, i.e. there is no reason to be all over the trail, whether
you are a pedestrian, a group of pedestrians or pedestrians with canines.
4) There is absolutely *no reason* for you to stop. I'm not impressed and do not care that your
dog will stand obediently at your side. Keep moving. Just *MOVE TO THE RIGHT*.
5) If you are wearing ear buds and cannot hear me yell 'ON YOUR LEFT' I have no
sympathy for you if you are startled.
A 'Thank you' when someone moves out of your way (even if they do it wrong) is a nice gesture and will spread goodwill and 'trail comraderie'.
As I said, I agree with Schwarzwalder's advice with one big caveat: On a trail, the bicycle is the larger, faster moving object than the person on foot. It is the bicyclist's task to avoid crashing into pedestrians even when they're lurching all over the place. Bicyclists simply have to slow down enough to react to unexpected or inappropriate movements by people on foot.