Back to school means back on the trails for many Riverside students and a refresher on the rules of the road (and the path) is long overdue.
When you are out on the bike, whether you are a road or trail cyclist, there are a few basic rules that you have to follow. Staying to the right of the path, letting people know when you are going to pass them and signaling before you turn all seem pretty basic, unfortunately there are still people out there who don’t abide by these rules. Here is a quick list of the rules of the trail which will make everyone’s time of the trails more enjoyable and make my morning commute much faster.
Stay to the right of the path.
This one seems fairly obvious. Just like the road, on the trails there are invisible ‘lanes’, you stay to the right and pass on the left. You don’t drift from side to side, ride right down the middle or on the left side. Apparently, this is a very difficult concept to grasp for some people and I can only hope that they don’t drive.
Let people know where you are.
This could be as simple as ringing your bell before you pass someone, just to let them know that you are passing on their left. If you don’t have a bell, your voice works just as well. Be sure to ring your bell well in advance, this gives the pedestrians enough time to move out of your way. A note to pedestrians: when a cyclist rings their bell at you, take your dog (if you have one) and move over to the right side of the path. DO NOT be a cockroach and scamper over the path. Trying to dance with a cyclist never ends well, trust me on this one.
Basically, just have some common human decency. Say ‘thank you’ when people move out of your way, don’t start road rage and don’t ride like a maniac. Remember that, because whoever invented this rule hated cyclists, pedestrians always have the right of way and it is our duty to respect that. However, pedestrians, this rule applies to you as well, just because you have the right of way does not mean you can use that to your advantage. It takes much longer for a cyclist to stop than it does a pedestrian, and slamming on the brakes in an effort to avoid people being idiots almost always ends in me on the ground. As a side note: if a cyclist falls because of you or your dog, you APOLOGIZE immediately and offer assistance. You DO NOT proceed to then tell me that I’m an idiot and that I hurt your precious Marley even though you could see me coming and did NOTHING to move your dog out of the way. Yes, this has actually happened before.
Use your ‘indicators’.
Just like on the road, you need to tell people when you are about to turn. Though bikes don’t have actual indicators on them, we do have a system of hand signals that we use both on the road and on the trails. They are fairly simple to learn, but like some drivers, some cyclists don’t use them. The basics are; left arm straight out for a left turn, left arm bent up at the elbow for a right turn. Some people would disagree with me on that last one, and say that right arm straight out for a right turn. However, the issue with that is since you are on the right side, whoever is passing on your left is unable to see your arm. No matter which system you choose, it is very important that you do signal, especially if riding with other cyclists.
Make sure you turn your lights on.
This particular rule is more for road cyclists than trail riders, but it is still very important. Winter is fast approaching and consequently it is getting dark earlier and earlier. Because of this, all bikes should have a red rear light and a white front light on their bikes. When riding home from school, keep both lights flashing so other trail users can see you approaching. If it is fairly dark, you may want to invest in a helmet light to see where you are going. On the roads, however, you should have your lights flashing at all times so cars know where you are.
6. Be aware
Make sure you can hear everything going on around you at all times so you can react when something happens. If you absolutely must listen to music, do so at a low volume with one earbud in so you can hear me when I ring my bell at you. DO NOT listen to music at full volume so you can’t hear anything and then proceed to walk in the middle of the path. I will be forced to pass you, however dangerous that may be, or simply crash into the back of you. So please, just be aware of your surroundings and nobody gets hurt.
A final note to dog walkers: Please keep your dog on a leash or under your control at all times. PLEASE. If Biscuit is a little ball of energy who needs to run wild or he’ll go insane, that’s fine, but as soon as you see a cyclist, you must get Biscuit under control. No one wants to be knocked off the bike by a flying ball of fur and you don’t want to deal with an injured cyclist. I don’t particularly care if Fluffy is a little angel who wouldn’t hurt a fly, dogs are unpredictable and may run into the path of an oncoming cyclist without warning. The last thing I want is to hurt Spots, but if he runs in front of me, it’s me or the dog.
Feature image courtesy of: http://mosaichomes.com/news/traboulay-trail-fremont-apartments/