Unfortunately, not everyone behaves accordingly. I recently witnessed a terrible incident caused by a reckless cyclist on the Lakefront Trail during my morning commute.
A big maintenance truck was driving on the trail, taking up both sides of the path. I slowed down to ride behind the truck, knowing that I could not pass safely and that the truck would soon turn off the path. Several other cyclists caught up and followed along, but once there was a narrow stretch of pavement on the left, three cyclists took the opportunity to pass the truck, despite not knowing if anyone was coming from the opposite direction. Predictably – for me, at least – there was a cyclist coming from the other direction who had the right of way. A reckless cyclist clipped her and kept going – did not even look back. Meanwhile, I watched as the right-of-way cyclist tottered, horrified that she would fall under the truck. She fell in the other direction, onto the grass. After laying on the ground for a minute, she was able to get up and walk around. She clearly was an experienced cyclist and looked sleek in her spandex, but was my gram’s age and recently had a hip replacement.
Sadly, humans on the path are sometimes as bad as humans on the freeway. Too many people have a “me first” attitude and their selfishness can harm others. It’s really simple.
Rules of the Path
- Be patient
- Be polite
- Reduce your speed in crowded areas, especially around children and dogs
- Pass others with ample space
- Always look over your shoulder before passing someone (and buy a mirror)
- Ding your bell or nicely call out “on your left” before passing people in tight situations
- If possible, signal your unexpected stops with an upside down 90 degree angle left arm
- Assume that the person in front of you will stop for all stop signs and red lights
- Remember that the world does not revolve around you
Some of the worst offenders are experienced trail users who take advantage of their experience to zoom around people dangerously, with the attitude that all these silly people are in their way. As an experienced trail user, I consider it my responsibility to ride extra carefully and watch out for less experienced and more vulnerable users. Cyclists are the “cars” of the path – the fastest and most potentially harmful users. When I find myself being impatient with slower people and tempted to brush past them at the first narrow opportunity, I remind myself that drivers think the exact things about me when I’m on the road. This works instantly to straighten my mood out, because I don’t want to be that jerk. Let’s all not be that jerk. And don’t forget to smile and enjoy life!