For whom the bell tolls: traffic approaching on your left
It might be time to break down and buy one of those happy bells for my bike. They’ve always sort of annoyed me. With alarm clocks, cell phones, work phones, home phones … I feel like we all have enough bells in our life. Still, it might be time.
At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’m going to have to talk about standard etiquette for travelers on the local bike path. During recent rides on the path, I’ve encountered some attitude.
One time, as I rounded a turn coming into Frisco from Farmer’s Korner, I swerved into the shoulder to get around a couple that were walking side by side, pushing their bikes up a hill on the path while occupying most of it.
Had I been coming from the other direction, cresting the hill from the other side, they would have been completely out of view and I would have collided with one of them.
As I passed them from behind, the man called out, “Thanks for the warning!”
Even though my bike typically emits enough loud, crusty sounds to alert people of my nearness, I normally practice the habit of announcing, “On your left.” I failed to do so this time since I was moving quickly and came upon them suddenly around the turn.
There is a line that runs through the center of the path in most areas of Summit County, and for good reason.
The bike path should be viewed as a two-way road. The speed limit is 25 mph. For some reason, you don’t see many families loitering in the middle of a road with two-way vehicular traffic moving at 25 mph, or a dog standing in the middle of it as its owner fishes through a backpack a few feet away, or people walking two- or three-abreast pushing strollers down it.
Even as I dodge such obstacles, significantly preceding my swerve with a loud “On your left,” my passing will often be answered with grunts and snorts. I’ll sometimes answer this with a “hello” as I pass, which, in turn, elicits more grunts and snorts.
My understanding is sometimes that people on the path don’t like bicyclists, particularly fast-moving ones. Maybe it’s me who’s wrong for imagining that the bike path is an acceptable place for bikes.
I don’t know what more I can do to announce myself to other path users besides getting my bike a happy bell. I can start dinging it far enough in advance to snap people out of their reverie when they’re stretched across the path and hope that nobody has any personal aversions to incessant bell noises. I don’t plan to be obnoxious about it; hopefully one or two dings will do the trick. If not, maybe I’ll upgrade to a foghorn.
There have been more than a fair share of collisions on the bike path through the years, although in most areas, it is well-marked with yield signs and signs instructing users to travel in single file and stay to their right.
The last thing anyone taking a jaunt on the bike path – by whatever means, traveling at whatever speed – wants to do is collide with another person, a family or a dog. We’re all out there to enjoy ourselves and should respect and make space for other users of the path. This means staying to the right.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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