Trail Safety – Trail Etiquette

Summertime is here – time to load the bikes up and head to your favorite trail or Greenway for a good time.   Good weather always prompts us to think about getting outdoors and enjoying some quality time on a bike or on a hike.  But did you know there are things you should consider when hitting  the trail?  Yep – here comes a short safety notice.

Before you actually leave, do you have everything you need?  Helmets – check, tires aired up – check, equipment in good working order – check, water bottles filled – check.  Notify someone of your trip?  What…., you did not notify someone you were heading out?  You should.  Let them know where you are going and what time you expect to return.  If you are heading out on a long trip or a multi-day trip, consider giving someone a map.  Letting your base team know where you are and when you expect to return may be the difference in a wonderful trip or a disastrous trip.

At your trailhead.  Yep, still more safety steps.  Make sure your vehicle is locked AND you have your keys!  No one likes to end their trip with a phone call to the local locksmith.  Speaking of phone – charged and in your jersey or backpack?  With someone on this trip?  Make sure they have their phone also.  Oh, and a wallet – nice to have when needed for some additional refreshment on the trail.  Beside, the wallet usually has your medical card in it, should there be an emergency.   Speaking of an emergency, you do have your I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) card in your wallet or maybe wearing a Road ID?  Simple things like contact information can help in so many ways.

Finally, on the trail.  Thought you would never get there didn’t you?  But you have and guess what, there are safety steps here also.  Depending on where you hike or bike, there are etiquette steps that are in place to keep both you and your fellow trail users safe.  I will list them below, but the simple mantra holds true – use your common sense.  If you think something might be dangerous, it probably is.  Don’t engage in risky behavior.  Remember, you wanted a good time.  So do your fellow trail users.

And this brings me to my favorite saying.  A multi-use trail is not the place to earn your King of the Mountain award for STRAVA.  If you are on a bike, ride responsible when walkers or runners are on the trail with you.  Ensure blind hills and curves do not pose a threat to yourself or others on the trail.  Families with small kids like to bring them to multi-use trails.  They cannot avoid a road cyclist moving at 20 mph.  Courtesy is the best policy on multi-use paths.  If you want speed and your are a road cyclist – take it to the road, not the multi-use path.

Now for the etiquette, courtesy of the D&L Trail and Rails to Trails:

  • Share the trail! Yield to the right, pass on the left.
  • Communicate with other trail users. Shout “on your left” to let them know you are approaching when passing from behind.
  • Biking or walking four wide across the trail prevents other trail users from passing you. Be courteous and move to the right side to allow others to pass you and your group.
  • Yield for the passage of official maintenance vehicles and trail landowners.
  • Standing still? Stand aside!    –    Move to the side of the trail when you stop for any reason. This is especially true when you are taking that perfect shot with your camera and may take several minutes getting it.
  • Ride your bike at safe speeds.
  • Leash your dogs.
  • Be alert! If you are wearing headphones, keep the volume at a level that allows you to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Adhere to rules posted on signs at trailheads and along the trail.   Learn the rules for each trailhead before you head out.