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Old 07-03-10, 10:56 AM   #1
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Tennis Balls & Bikes - Not a Good Combination

I went out early to get a quick ride in on the Schuylkill River Trail this morning. Saw a kid in a bike seat drop a tennis ball and a rider on a Scott TT bike hit it at over 25 MPH. It was not a pretty site. Luckily the rider flipped over onto the grassy side of the path. The bike was toast. Front wheel now looks like a pretzel, fork broken, handlebar broken, and seat stay and chain stay on the drive side both cracked. Rider was shaken up, appears nothing on him broken, and he even avoided road rash. Other than the loss of a bike costing several thousand dollars he was lucky. The kid and his mother (I assume) never knew what havoc was caused.
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Old 07-03-10, 12:32 PM   #2
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This is the problem with trails- There should not be anyone else on them when you decide to take your pride and joy out for a few quick miles.

Kids- dogs and anything that may wander on the path and I slow down and cover the brakes. Still have a few near misses though.
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Old 07-03-10, 01:13 PM   #3
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I'm forced to play devils advocate and say perhaps a trail is not the place to take ones 25+mph TT bike out at high speeds, when you know there may be "Kids, dogs and anything that may wander on the path"... Just a thought. The sport bike riders start sounding like motorist at times... those slow things on the trail, don't do anything but get in my way, there should be a law keeping them off the trail.

But, on the other hand, I do wish often that parents, and pet owners, and pedestrians would watch what they are doing closer most of the time. The approach rate even at ten miles an hours seems more than some of them can grasp at times.

But, we all have to try and get along somehow... I don't have the answer unless you start having multiple lane trails for various speed traffic.
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Old 07-03-10, 01:31 PM   #4
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One has to use plain old common sense.

There are places on the trail - wide open, great visibility, no one else around, where I will hit 25 mph

I see a kid or a family, or uncontrolled dogs, and I slow way down or stop.

Most of the walkers around here are pretty good, and well-trained to my bell or "passing" - I NEVER say "on your left" - it is confusing to the neophyte walker and bicycler.

Today, I saw two folks walking abreast (8-10 foot wide trail) with a bicyclist coming up behind them - not fast, just coming up. I was able to read the bicyclists mind, because, sure enough, she passed them and if I hadn't been tuned in and slowing down, we would have hit. I spoke at the lady riding the bicycle and said, "Wait to pass until it is safe." She wasn't happy with me, but perhaps next time . . .

Passed another guy just learning to ride - very nervous and riding to the left of the center line. Slowed WAY down and told him I was passing gently and carefully. And a number of kids, who will do most anything spontaneously without thinking for these I get down to 5 mph or less or even stop..

However, over the 17 miles on the trail, the rest was remarkably smooth and I maintained an overall good speed.

I am amazed that there are some riders who in no way seem to appreciate that kids are kids and totally unpredictable. I always keep in mind that the peds have more rights to the trail than I do. By requlation, I have to yield to them.

And, I always say "Good morning" or "Hello!" I figure that they get enough negative from bicyclists, perhaps I can counter some of that negative with a positive.

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Old 07-03-10, 03:06 PM   #5
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I have to agree withDnvrFox 100% on his post.
I used to ride fast all the time on the local MUP I use even when passing. I was reading on Road forum, maybe even here, about how unsafe that can be and started to really think about it.
I realized that it is after all a M=multi U=use P=path and not my path. I started to do what DnvrFox does, slow down when approaching family's with kids, new looking riders (wobbling all over) and walkers and such. Average speed after all means nothing but safety does. I still can get up in speed 25+ but only when it is safe.
Quick story, once I was slowing down for a dad and his little girl. Even with that the little girl just bolted across the path right in front of me. If I had not been prepared I would have hit her no doubt. The dad knew I was watching and slowing down and I believe he was appreciative about that from the expression on his face ( we had eye contact while I was approaching)
Little kids are unpredictable.
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Old 07-03-10, 03:20 PM   #6
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An additional thought.


Almost all little kids, when riding a bike, will turn their head to the left and pull their bike to the left when you say either "passing" or "on your left." Even when walking, they will do this.
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Old 07-03-10, 03:42 PM   #7
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Well, I don't know if you can blame this accident on the MUP. I mean the guy hit a tennis ball, its not like he ran into someone. This was a real freak sort of accident. Balls are not a particular hazard of MUPs, I have seen tennis balls on the regular road and even occasionally rolling out into the street. For that matter basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, racket balls, ping-pong balls (not sure these could take out a bike though), etc. I came very close to being hit by a baseball the other day (his home run ball was almost my bane ball) and you are taking your life into your hands when you bike past golf courses. Oh, did I mention paint balls? Ban the balls!!!
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Old 07-03-10, 04:58 PM   #8
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Riding fast on a MUP is very risky behavior. Not a good risk for this guy. If you want to ride fast, hit the road.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bionicycle View Post

... having multiple lane trails for various speed traffic.
Here in Michigan this would not work at all. On the few MUPs that are marked for direction or for left/right lanes, it's a habit to ignore them.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:13 PM   #10
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M (multi) U (use) P (path). Taxpayer property, yours and their's. There are normally priorities assigned by need and courtesy. 1. Horses always have the right away, they are too big and too unpredictable, go slow around them and ask permission to pass. 2. Pedestrians have the right of way except around horses but usually don't know much about courtesy 3. Pedestrians with dogs are a special case, they have no care for courtesy and no clue about the rights of others (there are a few special ones who should be appreciated for their rareness.) 4. Bicycles on MUP's are like cars on the road. They should grant the rightaway to everyone else.

There are special requirements that could and should be followed by all of these groups. Horse riders should carry a scooper and attempt to clean the trail. Pedestrians should try to keep to the right and at least pay a little attention. Bike riders should be courteous to everyone because we are the ones most often and easily banned from the MUPs.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:21 PM   #11
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I was riding with my daughter the other day on our MUP, she kept asking me how fast we were going. When we got over 15mph she we had better slow down, I asked her why - she said the speed limit was 15MPH on the MUP. I had no idea where she got that from, then as we went a few miles further, sure enough there was a "terms of use" sign and in small print it said - maximum speed 15mph. So now - except in the wee hours of the morning I stay off the MUP if I am going to stretch my legs.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bionicycle View Post
I'm forced to play devils advocate and say perhaps a trail is not the place to take ones 25+mph TT bike out at high speeds, when you know there may be "Kids, dogs and anything that may wander on the path"... Just a thought.
This ^
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Old 07-03-10, 05:31 PM   #13
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when I was much younger, I was in a bike race on a road that went through the middle of a golf course. It was on a hill, so the golf balls just kept rolling. Scary.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:34 PM   #14
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3. Pedestrians with dogs are a special case, they have no care for courtesy and no clue about the rights of others (there are a few special ones who should be appreciated for their rareness.)
We must be stocked with that rare breed in Fort Worth; I can't remember ever having a negative incident with a dog walker on my local MUP and there are plenty of them. It may be the MUP design though; in the busiest areas here have dual paths- a paved path and a crushed and packed stone path. Most pedestrians and a lot of cruiser cyclists stick to the stone and leave the paved areas to the faster cyclists. Most, but not all. But still, there are few enough interruptions that riding the MUP is relatively pain free here, compared all the moaning I hear from the people who post here.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-03-10, 05:43 PM   #15
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That's sad...but as stated, not really the place to be going that fast.

Some years back I was riding my motorcycle (big cruiser type) on our local freeway when I saw a couple of cars in front of me start weaving from one lane to the other as if to avoid something...I was on top of the object in just a couple of seconds and it turned out to be a football rolling around on the freeway...you guessed it, I clipped it. Luckily I caught the pointed edge of the football and sent it sailing across 3 lanes of traffic. Two inches more toward the center could have been disastrous.
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Old 07-03-10, 05:47 PM   #16
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When ever I am riding on a MUP and pass anyone I will pull over to the far right almost abruptly as if to say " Look this is where you are suppose to be, on the right and not in the middle,the left or anywhere you feel like it"
Just today I saw a lady and her little kid riding. Well they had decided to "park" their bikes and take a walk off the trail a ways . Where did they park the bikes you ask? Right in the middle of the path.
I just can not figure out how these people think sometimes.
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Old 07-04-10, 12:07 AM   #17
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3 main things that you cannot be certain of what they will be doing on a Mup- and that is Animals- Other People and you. I have seen dogs- Big Dogs tightly contained on a lead and when they decide to go- they go. Can never be certain of what other users are going to do- One of the reasons our local Mup is so popular is that there is no traffic. Kids get a free rein and parents Don't expect top have a problem with bikes. And YOU--Or ME- The mups are so peacefull my brain goes. I have to concentrate sometimes to keep my eye on the MUP and other users instead of looking at the scenery.
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Old 07-04-10, 01:08 AM   #18
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Here in SoCal most of the lanes are marked "Bicycles only" then usually there is space to the side for peds. Horse trails run parallel and off to the side. Most people are what i call zombie walkers, they wander around like cows. Then add kids, dogs, people walking on the wrong side, three people walking abreast taking up all the path, horses on the bike paths. After going down in February to a family with dogs and kids i just stop. Nothing else is as important as avoiding a collision. I ride usually during the week so most of the time the paths are vacant.
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Old 07-04-10, 09:22 PM   #19
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I do 90% of my rides on local MUPs and enjoyed all the comments above- they are pretty consistent with my experiences. When our MUPs leave residential areas it is possible to have a safe and pretty spirited ride without much risk, but in other zones and at certain times you are going to have to slow down and use caution for all of the reasons mentioned above. Just using common sense and courtesy goes a long way. But I sure wish we were more like LA and had "bikes only" lanes in some zones.

My worst incident with a ball was actually on a residential street. From behind a parked car, some kids kicked a soccer ball into the street and right under my bottom bracket where it hit the chainrings and squirted away! It was a miracle I didn't crash I think. IMO anywhere there are kids or loose animals you are at risk.
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Old 07-05-10, 05:23 AM   #20
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There are also many different kinds of MUPs. At my house I have over 100 miles of Rails to trails (MUPs) that are unpaved and vary from crushed limestone smooth enough for road bikes to gravel, trap rock, sand and mud. Parts are inhabited by all comers and other part will occasionally have bikers on them. To the north in Massechusetts, I sometimes ride a paved trail near Ahmerst College that has everything including rollerbladers. The same for the Shining Sea Trail in Falmouth/Woods Hole Mass and the Cape Cod Canal access roads.

They are all fun and each has a different challenge.
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Old 07-05-10, 05:38 AM   #21
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There are also many different kinds of MUPs. At my house I have over 100 miles of Rails to trails (MUPs) that are unpaved and vary from crushed limestone smooth enough for road bikes to gravel, trap rock, sand and mud. Parts are inhabited by all comers and other part will occasionally have bikers on them. To the north in Massechusetts, I sometimes ride a paved trail near Ahmerst College that has everything including rollerbladers. The same for the Shining Sea Trail in Falmouth/Woods Hole Mass and the Cape Cod Canal access roads.

They are all fun and each has a different challenge.
+1

The problem with sweeping generalizations about MUPS is that I don't know about your MUPS and others don't know about mine. And, they can be quite different from place to place, time-to-time and even sections of the same MUP. One should not make a blanket generalization that one should not go 25 mph on a MUP any more than one should say that riding on all roads is unsafe. In my case, where our MUPS go 20 continuous miles without intersecting a road, are maintained excellently, are rural, and I will be able to take a 20+ mile ride in a few minutes at about 6:30 am and see perhaps one or two other bicyclists and 5 pedestrians, and generally have a line of sight of several hundred feet, I feel entirely safe at 25mph+. However, on the blind curves, or through areas where there are more folks and bicycles, I slow way down. And I would generally not go 25 mph at noon on the same trail. It's a matter of common sense.
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Old 07-06-10, 07:09 AM   #22
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Well, I don't know if you can blame this accident on the MUP. I mean the guy hit a tennis ball, its not like he ran into someone. This was a real freak sort of accident. Balls are not a particular hazard of MUPs, I have seen tennis balls on the regular road and even occasionally rolling out into the street. For that matter basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, racket balls, ping-pong balls (not sure these could take out a bike though), etc. I came very close to being hit by a baseball the other day (his home run ball was almost my bane ball) and you are taking your life into your hands when you bike past golf courses. Oh, did I mention paint balls? Ban the balls!!!
I had a close call two years ago. Nearly taken out on a big downhill by a rogue hickory nut that fell in the wrong place at the wrong time. You just never know.
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Old 07-06-10, 08:05 AM   #23
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Away from the rest stops and larger towns, the Little Miami Trail is pretty empty.

But within a few miles of the stops, there are little kids on bikes, walkers, and dogs. Also bike riders riding two abreast, hanging over the middle of the trail. And bike riders passing walkers in their left hand lane when bikes are coming at them.


This is 20mph, the speed limit on the trail, out in the country.

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Old 07-06-10, 08:51 AM   #24
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An additional thought.


Almost all little kids, when riding a bike, will turn their head to the left and pull their bike to the left when you say either "passing" or "on your left." Even when walking, they will do this.
Another few things that I have found, that help:

Tell the kids that they are OK, and comment on what a nice bike they have - it gets their focus back where it belongs, on their correct course, and on their bike.
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Old 07-06-10, 09:07 AM   #25
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Another few things that I have found, that help:

Tell the kids that they are OK, and comment on what a nice bike they have - it gets their focus back where it belongs, on their correct course, and on their bike.
Yes, and I also tell them something like:

"What a great bicycle rider you are" - "WOW!"

Thay smile and beam like crazy. It's really neat to watch them.
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