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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Avoiding pedestrians?

    I had a disappointing experience this past Sunday. I was riding my fixed gear bike on the local bike path. My fixed gear is currently geared much too high - once you get going, it's HARD to stop!

    Ahead of me on the path were two pedestrians - one on the right going in my direction (her back to me) and the other on my left, approaching me. The pedestrian on the right was closest to me. The pedestrian on the left first moved more to the left, then to her right! Having not much option, I passed the pedestrian on my right, and then steered right to miss the approaching girl.

    The pedestrian who had her back to me was severely startled and began yelling as I departed claiming that I hadn't given notice and calling me a string of offensive names.

    I felt badly, but after consideration, came to the following two conclusions:

    1. The path is a bike path, not a pedestrian path and
    2. The walker in question had an i-Pod in her ears and couldn't have heard me even if I'd yelled

    Other than not using the bicycle path or stopping for all pedestrians, how can one peacefully coexist? Pedestrians on the bike path who let their pets run free (or worse, their children), who are effectively deaf due to music players, who walk in a way to completely block the path, and who don't know how to move even when they DO hear me say "bicycle on your left" drive me BONKERS!

    Any ideas from the forums?

  2. #2
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I never say "Bicycle on your left"

    It is confusing to peds

    I always say "Passing" and, if necessary, slow down to 2-3 mph or even stop. Passing is generally taken that you will pass on the left (or on the right in other countries, I guess).

    Peds legally have the right of way around here, and if you hit one, you are at fault. I don't know about the legal status of a ped on a bike path, but I would bet they have the right of way also. Here it is 1. horses, 2. peds, 3. bicycles

    As far as the IPod, I hate them. I have a bell that seems to get through the fog of the IPod at times.

    We have enough bikers, that most of our peds are well educated, and will say thank you after I ring my bell.

    A bicycle is the ultimate stealth machine. When I am walking on a MUP, I HATE when a bicycle passes me without any kind of notice. Startles me and drives me nuts.

    Perhaps a fixed gear doesn't mix well with a bike/ped path?
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  3. #3
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I will add that on most weekdays and for a large portion of our trail system, we have few if no peds. Also, our leash laws are pretty well enforced.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  4. #4
    Housebroken Verewolf's Avatar
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    I second the "get a BELL".
    I didn't want one at first because I thought they looked stupid.
    I'd always yell, "Bike on your right" and "blah blah blah".
    But you might as well be speaking mongolian because trail walkers
    don't understand a word you're yelling.

    After scaring the bejeezes out of a number of walkers,
    even after I yelled a warning, one startled old timer yelled "Get a BELL!"

    So I got one of those cute little mini bells ($3.95).
    I ring it from a distance when I see people on the trail
    and ring it on blind curves. Walkers move to the right without turning around
    and as I pass they wave and smile. Ain't life great! "ding" "ding"

  5. #5
    Touring senior
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    I was riding one of the great "Route Verte" trails in Quebec, approaching a small town, and there were a couple of middle-aged lady peds walking side by side away from me, essentially blocking the trail. I slowed right down, and called out, "Excusez moi". They didn't hear me. 20 yards away I tried again. Still didn't hear me (maybe it was my english accent!), So at about 10 yards I beeped my air horn (not "blasted" - "beeped"). Now, this is an air horn worthy of a fully loaded semi. The ladies were sure they were about to be flattened by said semi - I thought they were going to have a heart attack. The trail was instantly cleared. (I did stop and apologize, and make sure they were alright....)

  6. #6
    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    We're supposed to *avoid* them? No points?
    ---

    San Francisco, California

  7. #7
    Senior Member KeithA's Avatar
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    I never really had a bad run in like you did. Actually, truth be told, I think the person was a rude jerk. Still, a week or so ago, I passed a guy on a path and on my return loop ran into him again. He started waving his arms to talk to me, but he was laughing saying, "You scared me to death. I couldn't even hear you coming up!!!" But, again, he was grinning, just thought it was a hoot.

    Usually, when passing pedestrians, I slow down to only a couple of miles an hour and, from around 10 feet away, I say, "I'll be coming by you VERY slowly." I can't remember a time when they didn't respond very nicely, especially women doing their walking together. They usually beam out a smile and greetings.

    Still, I live in an extremely friendly area, handchosen by my wife and I looking for a place to have and raise our kids. Very community like.

    As for having to slow down, I don't mind at all. I'm not in any big hurry and being polite is in the community spirit. So, I'm very lucky in that regard.

  8. #8
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Our paths are multi-use and are clearly marked that peds have the right of way.

    I'm not 100% certain, but I think that this would be the case even on bike paths although you would be more justified to yell at people to get out of your way.

    If there's kids around, I simply slow down to a crawl. Those little buggers are completely unpredictable. Once while passing a little girl riding her bike on the trail, I went by her very quickly and I think it startled her and she fell over. I felt so bad. I don't want to do that again.

    Now old, fat guys on bikes are fair game. You can use them like they were traffic cones and weave in and out around them, or simply ride in circles around them as they puff along.

    Az

  9. #9
    Senior Member glassman's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone should wear those headphones and operate a vehicle (car or bike) or walk in public. While I have not had a problem with people, I can see that they could be a problem. I do not think the OP did anything wrong but I would stop if I had to to make sure I did not hurt or scare someone.

  10. #10
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I second the bell idea. I've tried calling out everything from "On your left!" to "Passing," to "Get out of the goshdarned way, you freakin' idiot!" (I'm paraphrasing here...). Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I have one of those fairly cheap but stylish bells that Freds everywhere favor. It matches my kickstand.

    It usually works.
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
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  11. #11
    horizontally adapted bentrox!'s Avatar
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    What I don't understand is this: If the paved portion of a MUP is clearly marked with "BIKE PATH ONLY" in large yellow letters every 20 yards, why should pedestrians walking on it instead on the adjoining pedestrian path be surprised when a bike comes up on them? Are they illiterate or totally clueless? Do they walk on freeways as well? I don't want to have to mount a cute tinkling bell on my bike for their benefit - it is my bike and it is a "bike path"! I do, however, shout out "on your left" well in advance of my approach and that is usually enough except for the earphone rollerbladers, who could care less, and the Jenny Craig group walkers who insist on fanning out three or more hips across. Yes, I do slow down when this happens. I am not sociopathic and I certainly do take care around pedestrians and unpredictable little kids, but why are we cyclists tagged as the rude ones should someone be startled?
    I'll gently rise and I'll softly call
    Good night and joy be with you all.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    This entire discussion is the reason I stay on the roads. I realize that some bike, or multi-use paths provide the only access to certain areas and when I must be on those I ride very carefully giving the peds the right of way. We do not have purely bike paths here only multi-use.
    The only time I really ride this type of path is when riding with my children. Usually it is on the Wake Forest campus. I have made certain they know that peds do the unexpected, (just like drivers) and that they should always consider the ped as having the right of way.

  13. #13
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    I have researched both the city and state laws regarding bicycles and pedestrians - there is no clear answer to the question "who has the right of way on a bicycle path." I've e-mailed the city-parish attorney my question and will be interested in the answer.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    FarHorizon - You've gotten my curiosity up now. I will love to know what your parish attorney has to say.

  15. #15
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    When my husband and I are riding our tandem in a crowded area where there are lots of peds., I will first let him say something, then I will ring the bell. The bell seems to have no effect on them, it's either muffled by my husband's back and they can't hear it, or they choose to ignore it. There are lots of pedicabs around that area and people probably figure that's what it is, but they still won't move. When I am out on my single on a bike, ped path, I approach very slowly and yell "Bike behind you" from a little ways back. That gives them the chance to move to either side, then when I pass I always says "Thank You". They seem to appreciate that. We have had some people who will just plain ignore you and refuse to budge, even though they see you--there are all kinds out there.

  16. #16
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    This subject is one of the reasons that Linda and I have all but abandoned the bike paths around here in favor of the roads. The roads are safer. Of all of the close calls we've had, they've all been with peds, peds with dogs and leashes, kids on bikes with training wheels, or inline roller-skaters.

    It's a shame really, because the trail that we used to call our "home trail" is a gorgeous, wandering trail past area lakes and woods. But it's just too dangerous.

    I'll agree with the bell. When we had our Cannondales, bells were standard equipment. They worked very, very well. Without a bell, most peds are slow to react to "on your left", or "passing". Many take a few seconds to realize what it is they're hearing, and by then you're on top of them.

    Later,

    Steve

  17. #17
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    As a few of the others have alluded, it's not a bike path unless it's marked as 'Bikes Only.' The majority of paths are MUPs (MUlti-User Paths.) On a MUP, the heirarchy for right of way is: horses, pedestrians, bikes. Don't expect either horses or pedestrians to follow any sort of rules of the road, because there are none for them - they go in any direction they want, at any time. I've found that peds respond best to a bell, but you always have to wait to see WHAT their reaction will be. Always expect them to do something unexected.

    If the peds are on a 'Bikes Only' path, then the proper response is to point that out to them. OTOH, if it's a true MUP, then you have the choice of putting up with peds (and possibly complaining to authorities) or leaving the paths in favor of the roads.

  18. #18
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Dangers of MUP's, roads:

    In a recent study of hospital admissions: (Can't get the table
    to show here)


    http://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/pedbike/...8/chapter3.htm


    The results show:


    of 197 bicycle-notor vehicle ROAD accidents, there were


    68 hospital admissions


    5 fatalities


    of 301 bicycle only ROAD accidents, there were


    33 admissions


    1 fatality


    while


    of 20 Bicycle Motor Vehicle NON-ROAD accidents


    2 were admitted


    0 fatalities


    and of 238 Bicycle NON-ROAD accidents


    17 admissions


    0 fatalities


    ==========================


    In other words


    of a total of 498 bicycle accidents ON THE ROAD


    101 hospital admissions


    6 fatalities


    and of a total of 258 bicycle accidents OFF THE ROAD


    19 hospital admissions


    0 fatalities.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  19. #19
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    There is a tendency by some to decry all MUPS based on their personal experiences, which is understandable.

    However, I am in the enviable position of most weekdays being able to go for 30-40 miles on the MUPS near me, and most of the time seeing no more that 10 peds and perhaps 20 bikes over the entire distance.

    I rode the Cherry Creek State Park MUP yesterday (4 miles from my house) and in the entire loop I took of 17 miles I saw perhaps 5 peds, and about 50 bikes.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    DFox - I think you are in a unique and enviable area. The multi-use paths in my area go through the heart of town and so are full of peds with few cyclists.

  21. #21
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p8rider
    DFox - I think you are in a unique and enviable area. The multi-use paths in my area go through the heart of town and so are full of peds with few cyclists.
    If you ever get in the area, I would love to take you (or any other person from the BF) on our metro trail system. I think it is likely unique. I can literally go for 40 miles (out and back) out my back door and once I reach the feeder trail (.2 miles away) cross a street only 6 times in the 40 miles. Or I can connect with the rest of the trail system and do a century (or a double century) with ease with very few cross streets and very few peds.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Would love to take you up on that sometime. Otherwise I really like our country roads once I get out from the in-town area. Beautiful country here in the east and we haven't had any snow yet!

  23. #23
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    There is a tendency by some to decry all MUPS based on their personal experiences, which is understandable.
    Granted, injuries due to on-road accidents are *probably* more severe due to the nature of type of accident (bike-vehicle) vs. MUPS accidents (bike-ped or bike-bike), therefor, I can't help but wonder if there are more *reported* incidents of on-road accidents?

    Take care,

    Steve

  24. #24
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    Granted, injuries due to on-road accidents are *probably* more severe due to the nature of type of accident (bike-vehicle) vs. MUPS accidents (bike-ped or bike-bike), therefor, I can't help but wonder if there are more *reported* incidents of on-road accidents?

    Take care,

    Steve
    Probably, but I would think that serious accidents are reported equally as well between off and on road, and, honestly, it is the serious accidents about which I worry. I don't care much if I fall over avoiding a little kid while going two mph. I do care if I fall over in front of a car while avoiding another car.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Skipper's Avatar
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    I agree with "Get a Bell". I find that peds are not startled by a bell as much as they are by hearing a voice from behind them. There were a lot of seniors walking on the trail that I used to ride to and from work. Some of them would just about jump out of their skin when I called out behind them. I always did so from a reasonable distance since I have a pretty strong voice. When they hear my bell, on the other hand, they appear not to be startled. I start ringing about 30 yards out and continue to ring every few yards until I see a reaction. No response by the time I get within 5 yards and they are treated to my well exercised noisy factory workers voice. "Hey, make a hole!", is pretty easy to understand. They always respond at that point. I generally smile and say, "Thank You", as I pass them.

    When it comes to yielding to others when I "legally" have the right of way, I like to remember an old line from my driver's education instructor. He said, "Are you willing to be dead right just because you are in the right?" For me, the answer is always "no".

    By the way, I use an IncrediBell. It is small and unobtrusive on my handlebars but it is pretty loud.

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