After a long, long hiatus, I'm back, riding again through the urban wilds of Medford; braving the concrete jungle that is our town.
Over the last week, I've been riding the Bear Creek Greenway. For those visitors from outside our little valley, the BCG is a great multi-use path that runs from Central Point near the fairgrounds, to Ashland, ending at the dog park. It travels alongside Bear Creek, hence the name, and is mostly a very pleasant place to ride in an uninterrupted path.
This week, I've done the ride to Ashland twice, and today my riding partner and I decided that we'd take it easy and just go from the Rogue Valley Mall to Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. We've done this ride many, many times, and for the most part, the people on the trail are either very friendly or at the worst, lost in their own thoughts.
I've been a bike commuter for years now, and I know the rules of the road as well as the rules of the greenway. We ride politely and safely, and we try to be really friendly with the people we pass on the path.
But today, apparently, we managed to find the one pedestrian out of many who just had to make an issue out of everything. As we approached her and her friend, we called out "two bikes, passing on your left" with a lot of time for someone to turn, look, see us, and ensure they stayed to the right so we could pass. Instead of the normal reaction, this lady turns, sees us, then steps into our line of travel, looking us in the eyes as she demands we slow down.
At this point, according to the GPS on my bicycle, we were traveling 10.3 mph, 8-10 mph slower than we usually bike, solely for the purpose of passing this walker and her friend.
What can we do? We start edging further to the left, whereupon she takes another step into our line of travel. Again and again this happens until we're forced to leave the path to go around her.
We ended up riding on, but we should have stopped and confronted this lady about what she was doing. I understand a lot of walkers' frustration with bicyclists buzzing them on the trail, I do. We take great pains to ensure we don't do that. In fact, had we done that, she wouldn't have been able to pull this stunt. By giving her time to react, by being polite trail users, we ensure she had enough time to attempt to cause a crash.
The rules of etiquette for the greenway are:
•YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS
Pedestrian always have the right of way.
•OBEY ALL TRAIL SIGNS & RULES
For your safety, note all marked hazards and travel at a safe speed.
•KEEP PETS ON SHORT LEASH
Walk pets on the right-hand shoulder if possible. Use a 5-foot or shorter leash, and clean/carry out your pet’s waste.
•KEEP RIGHT AND PASS ON LEFT
Think of the trail as a roadway. Always allow other users room to pass you on the left.
•IF YOU STOP, PLEASE LEAVE THE TRAIL
Always allow other trail users room to pass on the left.
•ANNOUNCE YOURSELF BEFORE PASSING/POLITELY WARN TRAIL USERS AS YOU APPROACH FROM BEHIND.
Example, “Passing on your left!”
•PLEASE HELP KEEP THE TRAILS SAFE AND CLEAN
Report any suspicious behavior to 911.
•ABSOLUTELY NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES ON TRAIL, INCLUDING SCOOTERS
Handicap scooters are the exception to this rule.
While I agree that the first rule is "Yield to Pedestrians," this doesn't mean slow to walking pace and follow them for however long they choose to walk, hence the "Keep right and pass on the left" rule and the "Announce yourself before passing" rule.
So walkers, please know that there are a lot of bikers who really want to be good, polite, friendly trail users, but when stuff like this happens, it makes us want to just get past you as quickly as possible with as little warning as possible to keep from having to deal with this crap.
I'll still be just as polite as I've always been, but this had to be said.