Friday, April 3, 2009

Riding with Courtesy

As the weather warms, area trails are becoming increasingly more crowded. Last weekend traffic on the W&OD Trail was nearly stop and go in several locations. What is normally a relatively wide trail was packed with walkers, runners, rollerbladers, and all manner of bicyclists, including fast road bikes. With very few bike facilities on our roads, most cyclists end up on the trails.

There's a good guest editorial at Bike Portland written by the Portland bike coordinator Roger Geller with some works of wisdom about this situation, Riding with courtesy in a city of bikes:

There are more people on bicycles in this city than there have ever been before. This visibility and accompanying attention presents challenges and also gives us an opportunity.

So, it is in that light that I make a request of regular cyclists: be exemplary.

What does it mean to be exemplary? To me it means the two "C's" of cycling: Courtesy and confidence.

When I think of cycling courtesy I think most often of people walking. Always yield to people on foot. They generally always should receive the right-of-way when there is the potential for bicycle-pedestrian conflict. Stopping in the presence of meanderers - especially the old and the young - is never a bad option. What does it cost you: a couple of seconds? What does it gain? Mutual respect and absence of confrontation

I believe courtesy also dictates passing at appropriate speeds. When it's crowded, this could mean at little more than a walking pace. When passing another person on a bike, always pass on the left. In my experience, people walking also appreciate hearing a discernible audible warning. That generally means more than a mumbled "on your left." A bell is best.



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