It is clear to all of us that cyclists have PR problems with the public at large. Since we are the ones whose lives and bodies are at hazard, it is our natural tendency to heap verbal abuse upon thoughtless cagers and clueless pedestrians who are trying to kill us. But there is blame to share. Well, "blame" says it poorly, perhaps "responsibility" is more accurate. I want to relate two incidents recently experienced along the White Rock Lake trail.
I had finally convinced my nonbicycling wife to ride the loop starting from the trailhead at Valley View Park. Sunday morning, gorgeous day, but probably the busiest day day of the week for the MUP. We're having a good time ambling along, soaking up the vibes.
Just south of 635 there were a number of soccer fields with many teams getting ready for their games. Yes, they were gathering in the few shady spots, which also blocked half of the trail. Yes, it was inconvenient for all cyclists on the trail. No they shouldn't have been impeding the trail, but it is a "multiple use path".
Coming toward me were two cyclists, one of which, when arriving at the crowded patch expressed in what seemed to me to be a moderate, nonconfrontational but very frustrated voice "Hey, this is a trail." You would have thought he had demeaned everyone's mother from the reaction. These two poor guys were loudly cursed out in two languages. I was a little freaked and not knowing what to expect upon my arrival at that spot, just called out in a clear voice "Permiso!". The same guy cursing the loudest looked totally startled, stepped out of the way and said "Go ahead, sir." We did, and I am still reeling from the different responses. My guess is there is a long history of friction twixt the cyclists and futbolers there.
Within five minutes we were toddling along, my beloved in front, young families everywhere, when coming toward us was a cluster of cyclists at top speed, one passing the others and taking up both lanes on this narrow path. The only reason he missed my wife was she swerved off the concrete, came just short of going down, but still banged herself against the top tube and sustained bruises. Within seconds a second cluster came toward us, again taking both lanes and ran me off the concrete. Please! If you think you are training for the TDF, DON'T do it on a MULTIPLE USE PATH designed for casual recreation. Such stupid and dangerous behavior creates ill will against the entire cycling community. If you want to race get on the roads! Dance with the SUVs, not the young families with strollers. I fear too many cyclists think these MUPs belong only to them and everyone else is just in the way, in much the same way that many drivers feel about cyclists on the roads.
Is there a solution? I hope so, and it probably starts with us taking extra measures to be courteous to everyone around us. NOT hogging highways. NOT putting others at risk. Is it fair that as cyclists we should be the ones to bend over backwards? Of course not, but we are the ones in need of image repair and fairness has nothing to do with it. Rant over.