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Old 09-30-09, 01:55 PM   #1
dwightonabike
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Rules of the Road on a MUP

Beautiful day Sunday, was cruising on the local greenway trail. Many dog-walkers and joggers out. Lots of children and families on bicycles. I was taking my time, being courteous in passing, and enjoying the day.

I came up on a family of four - mom, dad, boychild and girlchild between them in line, going up one of the larger hills on the path.

After waiting for them to pass an even slower group, I called out, "bicycle on your left" to let them know where I was, and slowly started to pass. I'm busy paying attention to the wobbly children beside me, going slowly, when I hear a yell. "Stay right!" A rider decked out in team gear on a racing bike was coming down the hill a pretty good pace, perturbed with my position on the trail. There's enough space, so I pull in line with the family, in front of the children. I get a sarcastic "Thanks" as the lady on the racing bike passes by in the other direction.

It got me a little upset. On a MUP you're supposed to stay to the right - but riding carefully and cooperatively is important. I expect someone cresting the hill and seeing the traffic to slow down and make allowances for the passing motion that commenced before she was visible. This is not a highway, but a shared recreational facility.

On a mountain bike trail, the rider going uphill has the right-of-way. Does this sort of though process transfer to a MUP? Or was I totally in the wrong. I feel like if you're worried about maintaining speed and road position, you should get on the road, as the MUP is redundant to the local highway.

Anyone else have similar experiences?
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Old 09-30-09, 02:01 PM   #2
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you are responsible for passing safely...the other rider was on their proper side and not passing. You were passing on a hill to boot? Do you normally pass on a hill when driving?

Yes, the other gal could have slowed down and shown better manners, but basically you were just as wrong as some driver who insists on passing on a hill and expecting oncoming traffic to yield.

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Old 09-30-09, 02:05 PM   #3
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you are responsible for passing safely...the other rider was on their proper side and not passing. You were passing on a hill to boot? Do you normally pass on a hill when driving?

Yes, the other guy could have slowed down and shown better manners, but basically you were just as wrong as some driver who insists on passing on a hill and expecting oncoming traffic to yield.
Right on. Pass only when you can safely do so without violating anyone else's right of way.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:06 PM   #4
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true, except - we were not on a road

there are speed limits on the MUP - which the other rider was certainly breaking

I didn't expect her to yield - merely ride at a pace appropriate for her surroundings. If she had, I would have had plenty of time to pass before she reached us.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:09 PM   #5
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I'm at a loss as to what I should have done differently.

I had slowed way down in order to pass safely. Families don't really like people blasting by their inexperience children.

No passing at all while on a MUP? With the turns and hills, I would not be able to safely pass a group that size and speed, while accounting for riders coming the other way at 20mph. Not sure that's how MUPs are intended to be used.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:15 PM   #6
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On a MUP you ride to the right, obey the speed limit, and pass when safe.
Don't pass on a hill.
Sure the other rider could have ridden slower and been more courteous but in the end you were at fault.
Riding on a MUP is for the most part like driving but with 3 times the obstacles with a higher likelihood said obstacles will act in the most bizarre way possible.
I'm sorry but I do not understand what there is to not understand here.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:20 PM   #7
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I have to side with Chipcom and High Roller. You have to wait until you have more room to pass, or pass faster. In any case, you should not be blocking oncoming traffic, even if they are flying.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:23 PM   #8
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I'm at a loss as to what I should have done differently.

I had slowed way down in order to pass safely. Families don't really like people blasting by their inexperience children.

No passing at all while on a MUP? With the turns and hills, I would not be able to safely pass a group that size and speed, while accounting for riders coming the other way at 20mph. Not sure that's how MUPs are intended to be used.
Indeed, there are plenty of selfish individuals here as well who use the MUPs as their own personal time-trial courses. Add joggers, pedestrians walking 4 abreast, children on bikes wobbling erratically over the entire width of the path, and dogs on 30 foot leashes, and you have a recipe for disaster. But I guess that is why they call it a MULTI-USE path. That is why I choose to ride on the road most of the time. It's much safer, more orderly and predictable, and I can average 15 - 20 mph vs. 8 - 10 mph (if I'm lucky) on the MUP.

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Old 09-30-09, 02:26 PM   #9
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Yeah, I've been turning it over in my head for a while now.

Still not sure what could have been done better. The thing is, I was doing my best to ride safely and appropriately on the trail.

Not passing on a hill sounds good. However, this is a stretch of about a mile of nothing but hills. So, I don't pass them on the uphill, and they go fast enough downhill to make passing them during that phase unsafe. Are you suggesting no passing at all on this trail?

Riding an MUP is nothing like driving on a road, in my opinion. There are (ambiguous) guidelines, not laws. So many different kinds of users that it would be foolish to expect any predictable behavior from any of them. There are no lines painted to let you know when its appropriate to pass. Bicycles can easily exceed the speed limit. They are not graded and planned for high-speed travel.

And even on a road, your line of sight determines when you can safely pass, not the steepness of the surface.

There was plenty of room to pass when I began the maneuver, if all the other users were obeying the speed guidelines.

The safest way for us to use these trails is mutual cooperation. Not aggressively defending your "lane" position.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:32 PM   #10
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Her wrong does not make your wrong any less wrong.
Thus, you were still at fault.
Accept it and move on.
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Old 09-30-09, 02:41 PM   #11
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I appreciate the input.

Her wrong does make my wrong less wrong (triple negative?). In the absence of her speeding, I would have completed my pass long before we converged.

I like this trail, and ride it pretty often. I am still not at all certain that I should change my riding patterns here.

My options are (correct me if you see any I'm missing):
-don't ride the MUP
-don't pass on the MUP
-blast by wobbly children when passing to get by as fast as possible
-continue to ride as I do

And I'll point out that I was riding carefully enough that I did avoid the rider blasting down the trail, without anyone even having to use their brakes. I even did what she wanted (cooperation!).
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Old 09-30-09, 02:55 PM   #12
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Incorrect.
This is akin to discussing the meaning of life with a wall.

"Pass when safe"
End of story.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:04 PM   #13
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I'm at a loss as to what I should have done differently.

I had slowed way down in order to pass safely. Families don't really like people blasting by their inexperience children.

No passing at all while on a MUP? With the turns and hills, I would not be able to safely pass a group that size and speed, while accounting for riders coming the other way at 20mph. Not sure that's how MUPs are intended to be used.
1 it doesn't matter if you were on a road or a mup...rules of the road still apply if you are operating as a vehicle. If you want to operate as a ped, you might have fared better since a ped has the 'station wagon full of nuns) right of way priority on a mup. The normal expectation is that a cyclist on a mup observe the rules of the road.

What you did wrong was pass on a hill where you couldn't see if there were any potential risks to your otherwise safe pass coming from the other direction. On a hill or blind curve do what you do when driving...wait until you can see that it is safe to pass. I know a lot of drivers don't have the patience to do this and would rather do something stoopid...don't be them.

What the other person was doing was no different than a car speeding in the other direction...not cool, but not violating your right of way. The issues are right-of-way and passing safely...general rules of the road that are applicable to mups and sidewalks alike.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:17 PM   #14
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And even on a road, your line of sight determines when you can safely pass, not the steepness of the surface.

There was plenty of room to pass when I began the maneuver, if all the other users were obeying the speed guidelines.
Correct, if you can see that it is safe to pass, you may pass if not prohibited otherwise...but it obviously was not safe to pass....making some assumption about speed or law-abidingness that you can neither verify with your eyes nor extrapolate from experience in reality was your mistake. If you can't verify with your two eyes that you have room to pass safely...don't pass. It's that simple. If you feel that prohibits you from using a MUP, that is your choice. Yes, it is all about cooperation...and if you can't follow simple safety basics, you are putting yourself and others at risk just as much as the speeding gal.

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Old 09-30-09, 03:27 PM   #15
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See this thread...don't be like the drivers being discussed.

Drivers crossing the yellow line into oncoming traffic!!
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Old 09-30-09, 03:28 PM   #16
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Thanks for reasonable discussion, Chipcom. DJ - not really helping. But your avatar is cute.

Here's my issue - this trail was not designed for the safe passing you describe. It is not designed for vehicular speeds. If you say not to pass if your line of sight cannot account for users going twice the speed limit, there will be no passing families of four at all.

I don't think that's reasonable, or what the trail designers planned.

I was going the speed limit while passing. I had enough time to pass the family well before I came to the middle of the hill. A rider going the speed limit could not reach me before I finished the pass.

Because another user's unsafe and illegal behavior brought us into conflict does not mean my decision was unsound. I still had plenty of time to react to a speeding rider.

I'm not so upset with the situation. It was crowded and slow. I expected conflicts. I also expect and give consideration and cooperation in such situations. It was the attitude of the downhill rider that has me miffed.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:30 PM   #17
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Yeah, I was reading that thread earlier.

And that's what I'm here for, to bounce around ideas. I certainly don't want to be a dangerous or discourteous driver or bike rider.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:32 PM   #18
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But I like that trail, and can't see a way to completely avoid situations like this without:

-staying off the MUP completely

or

-never passing on busy days

I guess I like riding there enough (and dislike riding behind slow families enough) to keep riding there, and to risk the occasional pass.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:34 PM   #19
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Thanks for reasonable discussion, Chipcom. DJ - not really helping. But your avatar is cute.

Here's my issue - this trail was not designed for the safe passing you describe. It is not designed for vehicular speeds. If you say not to pass if your line of sight cannot account for users going twice the speed limit, there will be no passing families of four at all.

I don't think that's reasonable, or what the trail designers planned.

I was going the speed limit while passing. I had enough time to pass the family well before I came to the middle of the hill. A rider going the speed limit could not reach me before I finished the pass.

Because another user's unsafe and illegal behavior brought us into conflict does not mean my decision was unsound. I still had plenty of time to react to a speeding rider.

I'm not so upset with the situation. It was crowded and slow. I expected conflicts. I also expect and give consideration and cooperation in such situations. It was the attitude of the downhill rider that has me miffed.
Yeah, but the attitude and actions of the downhill rider are not an excuse to pass unsafely...which is what you did. Dude, you are not the only person in the world who rides on crowded mups with limited sight lines...if you don't like the conditions of the mup, don't ride on it...we got miles and miles of roads that go far more places.
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Old 09-30-09, 03:59 PM   #20
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Thanks for reasonable discussion, Chipcom. DJ - not really helping. But your avatar is cute.

Here's my issue - this trail was not designed for the safe passing you describe. It is not designed for vehicular speeds. If you say not to pass if your line of sight cannot account for users going twice the speed limit, there will be no passing families of four at all.

I don't think that's reasonable, or what the trail designers planned.

I was going the speed limit while passing. I had enough time to pass the family well before I came to the middle of the hill. A rider going the speed limit could not reach me before I finished the pass.

Because another user's unsafe and illegal behavior brought us into conflict does not mean my decision was unsound. I still had plenty of time to react to a speeding rider.

I'm not so upset with the situation. It was crowded and slow. I expected conflicts. I also expect and give consideration and cooperation in such situations. It was the attitude of the downhill rider that has me miffed.
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Old 09-30-09, 06:05 PM   #21
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if you don't like the conditions of the mup, don't ride on it...we got miles and miles of roads that go far more places.
For the win!
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Old 09-30-09, 06:29 PM   #22
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So what's the big deal?

The family is riding single file. There was room for you to pull to the right and let the other rider pass. They even said "Thanks."

What more do you expect?
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Old 09-30-09, 06:34 PM   #23
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I think that snarky girl should have an entry in her permanent record
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Old 09-30-09, 07:42 PM   #24
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I consider being on the MUP to be like driving on the expressway, if golf carts, go-karts,
and shopping carts were allowed on the expressway. Determining when it's safe to pass
is trickier when the speed differentials are greater, especially with unsafe oncoming traffic.
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Old 09-30-09, 08:30 PM   #25
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You need bigger quads for quicker acceleration to shorten the distance required to safely pass. Suit up in some Spandex, choke down a protein shake or two per day, start a 20 MPH training regimen, and stop drafting behind wobbly children.
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