Multi-Use Path Etiquette - Biking Joe

Multi-Use Path Etiquette

Locally, we have some fantastic walking/biking/running paths. Sharing these spaces seems to require a multi-use path etiquette rules list.

Multi-Use Path Etiquette – Dos and Don’ts

First big DON’T – don’t vent about rude people on social media. Nextdoor Forums (local forums for asking neighbors advice, etc.) has become rife with angry people complaining about someone who made them mad. When there is NOTHING anyone on the forum can do about your petty annoyance, keep that shit to yourself.

With all that being said, I had a funny biking-on-the-shared-path story. But first you need to know our biking/passing protocols:

Biking Protocols

Thaddeus and I bike almost exclusively on municipal paths that are used by dog-walkers, runners and hikers as well as bicyclists. Most of the path will easily accommodate 3 people walking/riding side-by-side. When we approach someone from behind, we notify them that we’re coming up to pass. We do this so that they’ll move out of our way if they’re blocking the left side of the path, to make sure they don’t wander onto the left side of the path, and to avoid startling them as we whiz by them.

  1. At about 20 feet behind someone, we start with pleasant but piercing-sounding bicycle bells to alert the people that we’re approaching from behind. If we get an indication that they’ve heard us (they move to their right or wave their hand or turn their head and look), we pass and thank them for their courtesy.
  2. If there’s no indication they’ve heard the bell, at about 10 feet behind, we state loudly, “Behind you…coming up!”
  3. Finally, if there’s no indication that they’ve heard us, we slowly and carefully approach them saying “Passing on your left!”

Funny Story

So, over the years, we have passed a man I call “the asshole” dozens of times. He walks the same path that we ride and he never responds in any way to our bells or notifications that we’re passing him. After about the 20th time we passed him, he said something to Thaddeus as he passed him…”You can hear that stupid bell 200 yards away!” He was clearly annoyed by our bells. So now we ring them once before passing him and his sensitive ears.

Fast-forward to this past week. We’re approaching a lone walker from behind (clearly not the asshole…I can recognize him from at least 200 yards away). We ring our bells. No response. We announce loudly, “Behind you…coming up!” No response. We pass him on his left saying, “Passing on your left!” He is clearly startled and yells at me, “You NEED to get a bell if you’re going to ride this path.”

<sigh> – now I need to come up with a name for this man. Any ideas?

Joe’s Rules Summarized

I was going to write a whole list of proper rules for sharing a path that’s used for multiple activities, but someone already has written it and it’s excellent. So I’ll just summarize.

  1. Stay to the right – just like driving in the U.S., stay to the right except to pass
  2. When passing, yield to oncoming “traffic” – don’t squeeze between
  3. Pass slower traffic to their left leaving plenty of room
    • Notify the person being passed in some way that they’re about to be passed
    • Continue to notify the person being passed until there’s some indication they’ve heard you
    • Let them know if there are more than one people passing
    • Pass single-file even if you’re riding as a couple
  4. When riding/walking side-by-side, go single-file when someone passes you from either directions
    • When our path can accommodate 3 people side-by-side, it’s rude to assume you can take up 2/3rds of the path when 2 other people are approaching you
  5. Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you insist on using noise-cancelling headsets or very loud music on your earbuds.

Current Tunisian Crochet

You can see that I’ve almost finished the second sleeve for the cotton mesh cardigan!

I also plan on doing a no-button band edging for the inside and collar of the sweater. So I still have quite a bit of work.

4 comments on “Multi-Use Path Etiquette

  1. Could be the walker is just monumentally deaf (like my dad), but then the “be aware of your surroundings” rule applies!

    1. Maybe a deaf person in denial of his deafness ?
      My mother refuse to admit that she is deaf, although we have to repeat every sentence, even when we are paying attention to our communication with her.

  2. Ha! In my metro area we skip straight to, “On your left,” And your thoughts on walking 2/3. Totally. Don’t get me started.

  3. They need to add- signal that you heard someone needing to pass with a wave. This is a frustration of mine- I can’t tell if you heard me or not. The noise canceling head phone seem dangerous to me.

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