One does not have to Google deep to read of tragedies on mixed use trails where cyclist have hit pedestrians, killing or seriously injuring the pedestrian, or themselves …or both. Please take a look at:

As our local Regional Greenway trail system becomes more popular, unfortunately it is not a question of IF this will occur, but WHEN.

As avid runners, we are amazed at how many cyclist pass us and other runners and walkers on the trail without any warning whatsoever.  We have taken to shouting “thank you” to any cyclist who announces his or her intention to pass; both to show our gratitude and educate others as to this safety etiquette.

Bicycles have no engine and are silent, while runners and walkers are usually not equipped with rear-view mirrors. The fact is that passing without announcing is simply dangerous for both pedestrian and rider.

In an article I read recently, a “Bicycle Ambassador” from a large metropolitan area cycling association is quoted as saying,

Pedestrians are unpredictable and vulnerable, which is a bad combination (and doesn’t even get into things like pets and children and the mobility-impaired), and bicyclists should be prepared to slow down to whatever speed is necessary to ensure that they can react safely to whatever a pedestrian does.

It has long been the accepted practice on ski slopes to warn down hill skiers when passing by announcing “on your left” (or “on your right” ) and it makes imminent sense from the standpoint of the safety of BOTH skiers. It makes no less sense for an approaching cyclist on a trail to announce his or her intention. It could save both pedestrian and cyclist from serious injury or death.

Moreover, the warning is of no use if it is given too late. Occasionally, I hear “on your left” as the bike appears in my peripheral vision. The problem with this is that often startled runners and walkers turn toward sound, which can be disastrous if the pedestrian takes a step in the wrong direction while doing so. There are also elderly people walking (and sometimes running) on the trail that do not have the fastest reaction time. And finally, there are hearing impaired runners (like yours truly) that have both a difficult time hearing and, an even more difficult time, telling the direction of sound. For that reason, the safest practice is for the cyclist to slow down and somehow announce his or her presence well in advance of passing to allow for whatever pedestrian reaction is encountered.

Cycle trail sign

Be it by bell or a shout, we urge all cyclist to warn pedestrians of their intention to pass …every time. Be safe everyone!