Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Importance of "Bike On Your Left!"

It was a beautiful day for riding, and I was lucky that, although I had some work I had to do today, I could spend a couple of hours biking, too. Did 30 miles today and wish I could have done more.

Shown is the Cedar River Trail near Cedar Lake. To round out my 30 miles, I rode from MMU south to Quaker Oats, and then turned north and rode to the 3-mile mark on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail past Boyson Road.

The "incident" took place as I was headed for home. I was approaching a young lady walking with a male companion. 'She was kind of ambling in the middle of the trail.

I followed what for me is standard procedure on any walking/biking trail. I have a bell, which I cheerily rang, and then said "bike on your left" in a loud, but not rude, voice.

I heard a rather unpleasant sounding reply, although it was complimentary to me. "Thank you!" she shouted. "You're the first one that's done that."

"That," apparently, is sound any warning before passing a pedestrian.

Now, I'm frequently either a biker or a pedestrian on trails, and even if I wish she had sounded nicer to the biker who did what she wanted all bikers to do, I would agree she has a valid point. Only a minority of bikers sound warnings, and all ought to.

Of course, there is some risk. A colleague of mine at MMU can describe a mishap where he said "bike on your left" and the woman moved to her left and BAM. She and he were both hurt and shaken, she more than he.

So, I also try to time it to leave a little reaction leeway. If a pedestrian steps in the wrong direction, I hope I'm still able to evade.

In any case, I think it's both safer and less rude to sound the warning. So, bikers, remember these words of wisdom: "Bike on your left." Say it loudly, clearly and with enough time for you and Ms. Walker to both react.

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