On Your Left
Originally posted at my old blog geekcyclist.blogspot.com
The Jordan River Parkway is a fairly typical urban greenway with a paved shared-use trail. It gets a lot of use by walkers, runners, skaters and cyclists, especially on the weekends.
A while back I took a group of scouts hiking on the parkway and before our hike we had a discussion about courtesy and behavior on the parkway. We talked about yielding the right of way, walking single file, keeping the noise to a respectful level, etc. For almost the entire 10 mile hike we had no conflicts between trail users.
Then near the end something interesting happened. We had been passed by several cyclists, most of whom slowed, and announced themselves either vocally or with a bell. Now I ride the parkway all the time, and I know how annoying it gets to be saying “On your left.” every two or three minutes, especially when the pedestrians are wearing headphones and can’t hear you anyway. But I still try to do it.
As we passed under a bridge, one of the scouts up ahead of me picked up a piece of rope or twine and began swinging it around. You can probably guess what happened… Shortly thereafter a cyclist on a fairly nice bike, kitted out, zoomed past me. Why do I say zoomed? Because not only was he traveling the fastest by far when compared to all the cyclists who had passed us; he was moving so fast that I could not yell the scout’s name before the cyclist overtook him. The cyclist was promptly, but quite accidentally hit in the face with the swinging rope. He turned and expressed his displeasure in an understandable, but I though excessively vile manner and rode up the trail.
I told the scout that he shared the blame for the accident, and shouldn’t be swinging the rope. I also told him that it wasn’t entirely his fault, because the cyclist was traveling too fast while overtaking, and did not announce himself.
I had a chance to express that opinion to the cyclist as well; he came riding back the other direction a few minutes later. I told him as politely as I could that the scout was sorry, but that by simply announcing his presence, which is common courtesy if not legally required, would have saved the scout the embarrassment and him the pain. Unfortunately I think my comments fell on deaf ears.
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