Better slow down!

“Better slow down,” she said as I navigated through four walkers and a dog.

The green belt at Clarkston’s Green Belt trail sees lots of use from walkers, cyclists, strollers, and dogs on and off leash. It is a beautiful spot and also one of the more difficult sections to bike through. In the summer beach users treat the asphalt as their own private deck. I’ve seen them spread out a towel on the pavement and lie down.

I’ve had to come to a complete stop while mom, dad, and assorted onlookers enjoyed a one-year old’s first tentative steps.

I’ve been harrassed by teens who think they rule the world and can’t find anything funnier than an old guy on a bike.

And she was right. Pedestrians have the right of way on the trail. Cyclists need to yield.

“You need to slow down!”

“Let’s examine that, ” I should have said.

I was doing 15 mph. That isn’t a posted speed limit on the bike path. As far as I know there isn’t a posted limit and I confess to often going faster than that when I think the conditions allow. But when speed limits are posted on trails, they are likely to be 15mph.

I saw the four of you walking side by side coming towards me. I vaguely recall seeing a dog but he didn’t register on me as much as the four of you did.

I can’t recall having called out that a bike was on the trail, though that is my practice. I may not have felt I needed to as one of you moved to her right while the other three moved to their left. You had all plainly seen me coming and were politely making way for me.

I appreciate that but I would have appreciated it more if you had all moved to the same side of the trail. That way I don’t have to try to watch events on both sides of me at the same time. The dog was still  not an issue. He was off to your left, my right, sniffing tuffs of grass.

So, at this point we are all getting along. I’m a little dismayed that you have created a gauntlet for me, but I’m headed for the space you’ve made anyway when the leash extending from you, the single person who moved to her right, across the trail to the dog sniffing the grass.  That leash was invisible to me only a moment earlier and yet I have time to stop though I don’t put a foot down since the dog-walker sees the error of her ways and moves to her left leaving me the trail.

“Better slow down,” I hear.

I was moving at the appropriate speed as evidenced by the fact I was able to stop safely.

So why is it my fault?

Why is it my responsibility to look out for the four of you when you plainly have no plan and no sense of etiquette regarding a dog on a leash or how to share the trail with others.

Sure you were all willing to make room.

I know how easy it is to be distracted by your conversation. To forget to look for other trail users. And, to be fair, you did see me and react immediately. I don’t fault you for that.

I fault you for not knowing where you were supposed to be and what do to should “traffic appear.”

I fault you for thinking a dog on a 20-ft extendable leash is a controlled dog. The fear is not that the dog will get away and be lost. The fear is he will run into moving traffic.

So, please, walkers and cyclists, stay to the right side of the trail. Never mind what you were taught in elementary school about walking facing traffic. You are traffic on the trail. If you are four-abreast, you need to fall into single file on your right, not jump off the trail to the grass and surely not split creating a hazard on both sides of the trail. Think about this so that when the situation arises there is no confusion about which side of the trail to move to. It should be automatic.

When other traffic appears that leash needs to be snugged up so that the dog must heal. It’s great if the dog responds to commands but most don’t. Heal that dog.

As for me, I’ll stay to my right and we’ll pass each other with a friendly nod and a hello. If walkers going my way are ahead of me, I’ll slow until it is safe to pass them on the right after you have gone by.

Better slow down, I guess. Not all the trail users know what they are doing.



1 Comment

  1. June 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

    you want to see clueless people in great #’s then go to the levee on nice day.

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