In the past few weeks I have seen a rising tension between cyclist, pedestrians and cars. This is both on roads and trails. This weekend I witnessed my first collision when a car took a left turn in front of a cyclist. Last week I found a pile of nails on an urban trail. A cyclist who leads a Tuesday morning ride called and told me they are having more flats from tacks and have even been picking them up on the decent. The Shootout was pulled over twice by the Sherriff Dept. this past Saturday.
This is nothing new. As more and more users are taking advantage of our incredible climate and infrastructure it is not surprising that some tension exists. On the trails this has been going on for generations between equestrian users, and hikers. Mountain bikes have added a new dimension to the mix. Bikes fly down trails, around blind corners, buzz hikers, and spook horses. Riders chasing Strava KOM’s and personal bests segments are disrespectful and not willing to slow down. An overall feeling of entitlement from everyone seems to be the norm. On the roads group rides are acting like they are the only people on the road and are riding 4 across. People are urinating on the side of the road without making any effort to find a bush. Cars ignore the 3 foot laws, speed pass riders and make sudden right turns, throw things out the window, lean heavy on the horn, scream, and even mace cyclists( yep, it happened to me).
As new trails spring up or are getting more traffic home owners are becoming angered by the actions of those using the trails that cut close to their homes. I’ve been confronted by owners on washes where I have been riding for years telling me not to ride there. I try and have engaging and polite conversation and ask what their objection is. I’ve heard “It will bring a bad group of people”, “The bikes and hikers will trash the wash”, “It is not our property, but It is private property”, and my favorite “you will get bite by a rattlesnake and sue us”. I could go on and on about how most hikers and bikers leave the trails better than they find them. From a crime prospective, I think bikes are a good thing. We come down trails at speeds that thieves don’t like. We are the neighborhood watch program.
As with everything, we as trail and road users need to take responsibility for our actions and do what we can to improve relationships. Use your common sense. Give people extra room when passing. Let them know you are there with a bell or say “rider back” and “passing on your left”. Slow down and say hello. If you really need to go to the bathroom, hide behind a tree. If you are hiking in a group don’t take up the entire path. Move over when someone says they are passing. Turn the music down so you can hear the outside world. Pay attention when you are behind the wheel to what bikes do that piss you off and don’t do that when you ride. Go for a walk on the trails you ride so you can understand what it’s like when a bike is passing and darts in front of you at speed and then quickly veers back into the other lane. If you are a walker, get on a bike and see how walkers blocking the road can stop your rhythm. Basically, walk (or ride) a mile in others shoes so you can understand we all have the potential to make improvements.
If we all take the time to be more patient and sympathetic we can make this a great community for everyone. I look forward to seeing you on the trails and remember, Please say rider back when you pass me.