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How to ride on Multi-use paths (a rant)

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How to ride on Multi-use paths (a rant)

Old 01-26-20, 10:16 AM
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billyO13
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How to ride on Multi-use paths (a rant)

First off, let me say I'm a bike commuter so I understand some of the complaints that bikers have about others who feel like they 'own' multi-use paths.
I also am a pedestrian who walks a 15 y/o Siberian Husky on a multi-use path by my house.

When riding your bike (especially if you are in training mode and going as fast as you can) DON'T BE AN A$$HOLE!!! Let folks know that you are coming up from behind and which side you are planning on passing! This is not only the polite thing to do, but is safer for you, the pedestrian and dogs.
Once again, earlier this morning, about 0730 I was walking my dog on the Springwater Corridor Trail in East Portland. I regularly check behind me to see if there are bikers coming so that I can keep to one half of the trail. If I see nobody else on the trail, I let him wander left and right to follow his nose and sniff where he wants. I was in the middle of the trail, closer to the right and a bike racer/trainer passed me so close on the right, that he brushed my elbow. I shouted "a heads-up would have been nice!" after him and as he raced away, and he yelled back "Don't walk in the middle of the path."
If I knew he was coming up behind me, I wouldn't have been in the middle but would have made sure both me and my dog were as far to one side as possible.
I'm now a peaceful person who abhors violence, but if he had hit my dog, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to control my anger and would have beat him until he was bloody.
So be considerate towards others, please. There's enough bad vibes on this planet that we don't have to create any more.

Last edited by billyO13; 01-26-20 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 01-26-20, 11:21 AM
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Old 01-26-20, 11:30 AM
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I agree one should always call or signal when overtaking anyone on a path. If I'm on the bike I'm heavy enough on the bike without adding a tethered dog to the mix. I try to be especially alert coming up on obviously elders. They often can't hear well and I have been thanked a few times for calling out far in advance.
I wish all afoot and on bikes a safe experience.
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Old 01-26-20, 11:31 AM
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There is nothing worse than idiots with dogs that walk on one side of the path, their dog on another side of the path and dog leash across the path. Yes, respect others, don't occupy the whole path!!!

As for "let folks know that you are coming" there is no perfect solution here, unfortunately. You pass quietly: "Why didn't you a shout or ring first, you spooked me!". You ring or shout: "Why didn't you pass silently, you spooked me!" I usually ring and/or shout "on your left" but success is very unpredictable...
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Old 01-26-20, 11:51 AM
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If the guy had hit your dog and then you attacked him, you would have been wide open to a charge of aggravated assault.

Cheers
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Old 01-26-20, 12:14 PM
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billyO13
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
There is nothing worse than idiots with dogs that walk on one side of the path, their dog on another side of the path and dog leash across the path. Yes, respect others, don't occupy the whole path!!!
I'll agree to a point. If there are others on the path, then you are correct those who feel they can take up the whole path and not leave rom for others ARE acting like idiots, whether they be dog-walkers, groups of friends walking or running together, or multiple bikers riding together. If there's nobody around, however, then you're wrong and those folks aren't being idiots, but rather normal folks letting the dogs have some freedom to sniff here and there. Like I said in my original post, I regularly check behind me to see if someone is coming, and if so then I keep to one side of the path. If there's nobody in site, then both my dog and I have the right to walk on whichever side we choose. Which brings me to your second statement.

Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
As for "let folks know that you are coming" there is no perfect solution here, unfortunately. You pass quietly: "Why didn't you a shout or ring first, you spooked me!". You ring or shout: "Why didn't you pass silently, you spooked me!" I usually ring and/or shout "on your left" but success is very unpredictable...
Here's where I believe you are wrong. One always should err on the side of caution when it comes to physical safety, especially when there's risk to injuring others. While I'm sure you're right that some people will accuse you of scaring them, in a court of law, if you didn't warn them you were coming, and they were to decide to turn around just as you were passing, causing an accident, you'd be guilty of assault and I'm almost 100% sure the judge wouldn't let your argument that "I didn't let them know I was coming up behind them because I didn't want to scare them" stand as a good defense.

Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
If the guy had hit your dog and then you attacked him, you would have been wide open to a charge of aggravated assault.
Cheers
You're right, which is part of why I was so frustrated.

Last edited by billyO13; 01-26-20 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 01-26-20, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by billyO13 View Post
If there's nobody in site, then both my dog and I have the right to walk on whichever side we choose.
Hmm, so you are basically saying that, say, at night, when there is very little traffic, it is okay to drive a vehicle on the left side of the road (in right-hand traffic countries)?
IMHO it is just asking for trouble - and your accident with this bike rider shows why. I believe you both were wrong and both, together, created a dangerous situation. Well, you created a dangerous situation and the bike rider made it worse. BTW, local MUPs here (in NY) at the entrances usually have signs with trail rules and one of the rules (and AFAIR it is the first one) is the following: users keep to the right.

Originally Posted by billyO13 View Post
While I'm sure you're right that some people will accuse you of scaring them, in a court of law, if you didn't warn them you were coming
I'm not sure about the court but in practice it is not so simple. For starters, half of the trail users will not hear you even if you try very hard - they listen to music using their in-ear headphones and don't notice anything around. As for the ones that will hear you, their reaction is also not always predictable - some may be spooked and even jump in front of the bicycle from their previously very safe position, some may become very unhappy. Some may become very unhappy if you don't warn them.

As I said, I personally usually ring and/or shout but there are exceptions. For example, I usually don't signal if I'm approaching a mother with a baby in a stroller and she is consistently keeping to one side of the path - I'll just slow down a lot and pass on the other side as far away as possible. The last thing one needs is to wake up a sleeping baby. I often do the same with old couples as well - again, if they are consistently keeping to one side of the path. Probability of sharp and fast movements by such trail occupants is pretty low (and speed is decreased to be better prepared in a very unlikely event this happens), risk of their inadequate behavior in case they are suddenly shouted at is much higher. At least this is my experience.
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Old 01-26-20, 01:33 PM
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I commute on a multi-use trail everyday. Mostly people are friendly and ok. But I did encounter a few unpleasant scanarios probably due to misunderstanding. One lady caught up to me claiming that I nearly killed her a few minutes earlier....... I just said sorry and moved on.
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Old 01-26-20, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
Hmm, so you are basically saying that, say, at night, when there is very little traffic, it is okay to drive a vehicle on the left side of the road (in right-hand traffic countries)?
IMHO it is just asking for trouble - and your accident with this bike rider shows why. I believe you both were wrong and both, together, created a dangerous situation. Well, you created a dangerous situation and the bike rider made it worse. BTW, local MUPs here (in NY) at the entrances usually have signs with trail rules and one of the rules (and AFAIR it is the first one) is the following: users keep to the right.
Your last statement that you put in bold type is the key point here. There are no such signs here on the Springwater Trail. In fact, the signs say that pedestrians have right of way.
No, driving on the left side at night is not OK because there are laws stating that drivers are supposed to keep to the right. And, because that is the standard here in the USA, the same should hold true on paths where there is a middle line dividing the two sides. However, if there is no such line, then there is no standard. If we were to take your above example to the extreme, are you saying that when walking on a hiking trail that is only 2 feet wide, hikers should restrict themselves to walking on the right 12 inches?


Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
I'm not sure about the court but in practice it is not so simple. For starters, half of the trail users will not hear you even if you try very hard - they listen to music using their in-ear headphones and don't notice anything around.
Unfortunately, nothing is as simple as it should be....I understand what you're saying, but the courts would say that your belief that they wouldn't hear you doesn't absolve you from trying to warn them. Using your above example of driving, not signaling a turn or not having break lights because you didn't think the other party was paying attention is not a defense.

Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
As for the ones that will hear you, their reaction is also not always predictable - some may be spooked and even jump in front of the bicycle from their previously very safe position, some may become very unhappy. Some may become very unhappy if you don't warn them.
Again, you can't defend their actions, only your own. And, using another driving example, not using headlights because you think that it may irritate oncoming traffic is not a good excuse.

Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
As I said, I personally usually ring and/or shout but there are exceptions. For example, I usually don't signal if I'm approaching a mother with a baby in a stroller and she is consistently keeping to one side of the path - I'll just slow down a lot and pass on the other side as far away as possible. The last thing one needs is to wake up a sleeping baby. I often do the same with old couples as well - again, if they are consistently keeping to one side of the path. Probability of sharp and fast movements by such trail occupants is pretty low (and speed is decreased to be better prepared in a very unlikely event this happens), risk of their inadequate behavior in case they are suddenly shouted at is much higher. At least this is my experience.
Again, I understand what you are saying, but I'd argue (in a friendly way) that 'LOW probability' is not the same as NO probability. I'd encourage you to think about how you would feel if the mother, deciding that she needed to get her baby home ASAP for whatever reason, decided to swing the stroller towards you to the left(going to the right would take the stroller off the path into the mud) and you weren't able to avoid a crash. I'm guessing you'd wish you had given them a warning that you were coming up on the left so she could plan accordingly.

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Old 01-26-20, 02:15 PM
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Nothing wrong with letting your dog wonder. Not ideal if I want to buzz by I end up doing some type of alerting, slowing, or moving over as far as I can. You may walk your dog on a MUP every night for 30 minutes. Every fifth time out see a guy on a bike. I don't walk my dogs on a MUP but if I did I wouldn't change my entire plan for that once a week and would accommodate the best I could. I can see many people viewing that as being a d**k. Please don't compare this to speeding down the road in a car, blowing through a red light etc. Driving down the highway on the other side of the road because is not anywhere near the same. The answer is a separate bike path, a walking path, a running path, skateboards, e bikes, one for dog walking and maybe even one for people in large groups with young kids that meander around aimlessly. None of those are perfect or ideal on a MUP for each other but they are there. Good luck paying tax dollars to build all of those different ones. Even with a separate bike path, different bikers would then be complaining about other bikers, you would need one for people that don't like headlights or blinkers, those that don't want others with headphones on, those that ride fast, those that might grab a wheel, those that love a bell and those that hate a bell. I ride the southern section of the C&O a lot. The area near Great Falls is packed with just about every non biker example I listed above. I tread lightly on through and I do get remarks about something they think I am doing wrong on my bike towards them. It is what it is. I am one person on a bike out of 400 or so I come up on that are not. I go about my business, busting out a rule book or saying something back is fruitless, they probably think I am deaf. In the end if there actually WAS an accident or someone was hurt and decided to take it further, ultimately the official rule book if there was one where you were would hold some weight but it would still be up to a judge to decide. Things would tilt in your favor if you did ring your bell or your dog was on a short leash etc..

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Old 01-26-20, 04:21 PM
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"pedestrians have right of way"

A human being is a pedestrian. A dog is not a pedestrian. I would check very close to the rules and regs. My local rail trail has a rule stating that pets are to be on a leash and under control at all times. A dog, nice as he/she might be, that is wandering around the trail even on a leash then involved in an accident could very well be considered not under control. Regardless, if you care about your dog then you will take every precaution to keep the pet safe even from reckless others.
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Old 01-26-20, 05:21 PM
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Sorry that the rider buzzed you and your dog. Glad there wasn't a crash. When I ride on MUPs I usually signal my presence with a bell when I am on a bike with a bell. "On your left/right" never works because that's a term that only cyclists and precious few others understand, so if I don't have a bell, I usually announce myself with a "I'm behind you" far enough in advance that they can turn, assess the situation, and act accordingly. If they don't hear me because of headphones or something else, I reduce my speed and try to make a clean pass. I never use MUPs as my own personal time trial course because they are less predictable than the road.
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Old 01-26-20, 06:42 PM
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For what it's worth I've been "buzzed" by another bicyclist whilst riding my bicycle on a rail-trail near here. Actually that happens quite often. I've also seen other bicyclists that were so startled by a bicyclist "buzzing" them that the buzzed bicyclist crashed. It's part of the reason I avoid using rail-trails as much as possible. Far too many bicyclists forget that these are MULTI use trails or paths and therefore they use them as their own private training velodrome. Then too, I've seen far to many dog walkers with their dogs on long leashes and wandering the trail. Whenever I see a person I can identify as walking a dog I slow way down before passing them and I give the dog as wide a berth as is safe to do in case the dog lunges at me as I pass.

Cheers
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Old 01-26-20, 06:44 PM
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A lot of trail users are unpredictable when surprised so prudent cyclists should be prepared to slow and communicate their presence and intent. In many thousands of miles ridden on MUPs, I have never encountered a dog walker who did not leash the animal in when I slowed and called out (or rang my bell). And they smile when I thank them.
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Old 01-26-20, 07:57 PM
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Walking in the middle of a MUP with a dog wandering from the left to the right side isn’t being a responsible or predictable path user. I don’t think the cycling guy should have buzzed you, but I understand his frustration. I keep my dog far to the side of the path and make sure I’m slightly to the left so she doesn’t get hit by cyclists, runners, hoverboards etc., plenty of good things to smell on one side.

The scariest incident I had was someone on the right-side of the path, and as I called out and came up to her left I saw a small dog in the grass on the left. Something told me to brake and brake hard and I missed running straight into an extender leash stretched across the path by only a couple of feet.
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Old 01-26-20, 08:14 PM
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It’s a Multi-Use Trail, created for recreational purposes ?, so - walkers, runners, rollerbladers, bikers ?, etc,.... not seeing that dog walking is typically one of the activities the planners designed the trail for.

2 sections of a local MUT near me specifically do not allow dogs. One of these is actually a wildlife preserve, but as it’s in the middle of a sea of houses you can bet everybody walks their dogs there. The other is a park where EVERYBODY lets there dogs off the leash and it’s all mt. bike trails. I’m good with it though as there aren’t many place to let dogs run. And it’s nowhere near as crowded as a MUT.

Ive zero tolerance for dog walking on a MUT.
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Old 01-26-20, 08:58 PM
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If OP cannot manage to stay on the right half at all times, then he should get one of these and stop making demands on others.
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Old 01-27-20, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Walking in the middle of a MUP with a dog wandering from the left to the right side isn’t being a responsible or predictable path user. I don’t think the cycling guy should have buzzed you, but I understand his frustration. I keep my dog far to the side of the path and make sure I’m slightly to the left so she doesn’t get hit by cyclists, runners, hoverboards etc., plenty of good things to smell on one side.

The scariest incident I had was someone on the right-side of the path, and as I called out and came up to her left I saw a small dog in the grass on the left. Something told me to brake and brake hard and I missed running straight into an extender leash stretched across the path by only a couple of feet.
That's exactly what I was talking about upthread. Imagine if that was a child riding their bicycle.

Cheers
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Old 01-27-20, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
That's exactly what I was talking about upthread. Imagine if that was a child riding their bicycle.

Cheers
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_of_the_children
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Old 01-27-20, 07:31 AM
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IMHO, the overtaking cyclist has the primary responsibility here. It is up to him to pass safely.

Yes, ideally everyone should follow the rules (or, in the case of a lack of rules, the common practice) of the MUP and occupy only one side of the path. The poster states, however, that this is an MUP, not a bike lane. Therefore, it is reasonable to anticipate that users will be using the path in a variety of ways and cyclists should ride accordingly. Even when riding on the road, when passing a dog walker I am very vigilant, and if the leash might be long enough to allow the dog to cross my path I give them a wide berth. Dogs (like their owners) can be unpredictable. Let's imagine a slightly different scenario, with the poster and his dog on one side of the path. It is not unlikely that the dog could dart across the path in response to seeing a squirrel, or smelling something interesting, etc. It should not have mattered whether the OP was on one side of the path or not: the cyclist should have slowed, given warning, and passed with due care.

A MUP is, essentially, a linear park provided for people to enjoy, it is not primarily intended for traffic, and it is unlikely that all users will be marching down the path like beads on a string. Cyclists need to understand this, and use the path with due care for the other users, be they dog walkers, kids on training wheels, skaters with headphones, groups greeting each other and standing all over the path, etc. In the end, acting negligently (or, worse, punitively) is far worse than acting inconsiderately.
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Old 01-27-20, 09:57 AM
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I find it quite interesting that so many "avowed cyclists" here fail to see the parallels between MUP users and roadway users, and fail to offer the same courtesy to MUP users in front of them that they expect from motorists overtaking those same cyclists on the roadways.

Folks, it comes down to this... you, approaching another human (with a dog or not) have the responsibility to pass safely. You have the full picture before you. You have the ability to moderate your speed for the conditions AHEAD. Please do so.

Overtaking traffic, in every situation, has the responsibility to assess the situation AHEAD and respond accordingly.
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Old 01-27-20, 10:06 AM
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100% agree with the red text in the opening post. It is the passers responsibility to announce him/ herself and it is the person being passed responsibility to be able to hear and react appropriately.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:04 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
That's exactly what I was talking about upthread. Imagine if that was a child riding their bicycle.

Cheers
There's nothing false about my concern for other path or trail users. I've seen children crash because of inconsiderate idiots. I saw a bicyclist slam into a baby stroller at speed because the bicyclist was too stupid to slow down when approaching a 90 degree blind corner. I do think of the children but I also think about whomever else might be using the path or trail at the same time as I am. I just others would show a bit more consideration too and not let their dogs on long narrow leashes wander across the path from them; or fast riding bicyclists to slow down a lot before zooming around a blind corner. YMMV

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Old 01-27-20, 11:12 AM
  #24  
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How to ride on Multi-use paths (a rant)
Originally Posted by billyO13 View Post
First off, let me say I'm a bike commuter so I understand some of the complaints that bikers have about others who feel like they 'own' multi-use paths.

I also am a pedestrian who walks a 15 y/o Siberian Husky on a multi-use path by my house….
Originally Posted by billyO13 View Post
I'll agree to a point. If there are others on the path, then you are correct those who feel they can take up the whole path and not leave rom for others ARE acting like idiots, whether they be dog-walkers, groups of friends walking or running together, or multiple bikers riding together.
Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
A lot of trail users are unpredictable when surprised so prudent cyclists should be prepared to slow and communicate their presence and intent.
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
It’s a Multi-Use Trail, created for recreational purposes ?, so - walkers, runners, rollerbladers, bikers ?, etc,....

not seeing that dog walking is typically one of the activities the planners designed the trail for.
I have posted on a few threads about MUP riding:
Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
If we ride often enough on MUPs we've all seen...wannabe racers riding too fast for conditions, sometimes two abreast, sometimes in mini-pelotons and not giving any consideration to other users-- slower cyclists, old folks walking with canes or walkers, families with strollers and toddlers and dogs on 50 yard retractable non-leashes (the dogs too), etc.

That's life on the multi-use path. Always been that way. Always will be. It's just the nature of the thing…


Jerks are gonna jerk. But most folks are pretty cool about using the MUP. I prefer to keep the latter in mind
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…My own thought is that a MUP is not so much a commuter route, or training venue, but a pastoral park, where people can enjoy themselves without too many worries, and needn’t be always vigilant, as is a cyclist on the Road.

A few years ago I went on a walking tour of the Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system designed by the great 19th century landscape architect Frederic Law Olmsted with the concept of a Promenade in mind.

According to the Park Ranger, it was planned “to take a leisurely walk, ride, or drive in public, especially to meet or be seen by others (Oxford Dictionary).The strollers would be dressed in their best Sunday clothes, and running and horses (and ? bicycles) would be discouraged.

My own Golden Rule of Cycling is “Do unto the Pedestrians, as you would have the Cagers do unto you.
Originally Posted by genec View Post
I find it quite interesting that so many "avowed cyclists" here fail to see the parallels between MUP users and roadway users, and fail to offer the same courtesy to MUP users in front of them that they expect from motorists overtaking those same cyclists on the roadways.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
IMO the vast majority of pedestrians on a MUP / Bikepath are more likely motorists rather than cyclists, and do not share the opinion that they [the pedestrians] do not belong on the Path

So I don’t expect pedestrians to show the same respect to cyclists, as we have to show toward cars i.e. “share the road.” Especially since those users likely paid more [in aggregate] to construct the Path as their refuge from driving.

So why should cyclists, likely the minority of users, take over these public spaces?
Most recently,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Courtesy on the bike paths...

my viewpoint on MUPS is influenced by living in the genteel City of Boston, where the MUPS are indeed public parks; and wide paved routes.

Last week, I visited Washington DC and checked out the widely touted Rock Creek trail (see photo), at least in the vicinity of Dupont Circle, where the bikes seem to be definitely second class. That segment is narrow with a two lane high-speed roadway on one side, and a wall of leafy green on the other.
:



That photo was an early Saturday morning. The path looks more utilitarian than pastoral, for runners training, and likely for cycle commuters to avoid notorious Washington traffic. Courtesy, even deference seems to be only means of coexistence.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 01-27-20 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:37 AM
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Steve B.
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Folks, it comes down to this... you, approaching another human (with a dog or not) have the responsibility to pass safely. You have the full picture before you. You have the ability to moderate your speed for the conditions AHEAD. y.
I think there's an expectation that as a cyclist in addition to acting responsibly, slowing, making your presence known etc... there should be an expectation of being able to pass safely. With other users - walker, runners, other cyclists, roller bladders, you expect that once a reasonable effort has been made with (hopefully) a response, you can then safely pass.

A dog eliminates that expectation as you cannot predict what a dog is going to do. The dog owner really needs to be aware of this unpredictability in their animal and make an effort to keep the dog out of the way of other users and so many do not do this.
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