Greater Greater Washington

Cyclist kills pedestrian; does calling "on your left" not work?

A man on a bike hit an 81-year-old woman walking on the Four Mile Run trail, ARLnow reports, and the woman subsequently died of the injuries. Do we need better consensus on how to alert pedestrians to passing cyclists?


Photo (of a safe interaction) by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.

The 62-year-old cyclist was heading down a hill and shouted "on your left" to warn the woman. Instead of either moving right or just being alert, she apparently turned around in a way that moved to the left, while exclaiming "what?" The cyclist then struck her, she fell, and her head hit the ground.

Update: ARLnow is now also reporting that the cyclist rang a bell as well as calling out.

Whether or not this particular cyclist did something wrong, the first rule always must be that people riding bikes need to be careful around pedestrians. Daniel Hoagland, WABA's Bicycle Ambassador, wrote in an email:

Pedestrians are unpredictable and vulnerable, which is a bad combination (and doesn't even get into things like pets and children and the mobility-impaired), and bicyclists should be prepared to slow down to whatever speed is necessary to ensure that they can react safely to whatever a pedestrian does.
WashCycle points out a comment from rcannon100 on the BikeArlington forum:
If the sequence is (a) signal (b) unanticipated response from pedestrian (c) collision, then you are calling too close. You need to call far enough back that when the pedestrian "reacts," you can respond appropriately.
On the other hand, as others noted, the cyclist might not have even been moving very fast; sadly, even a low-speed collision can turn into a fatal injury for a senior citizen.

What is the best way to alert pedestrians?

Some suggested that a bell is better than a shouted warning, partly because it's audible from farther away. What kind of warning is the right one? Does "on your left" actually lead many people to move left instead of watching out to the left?

There seems to be significant differences of opinion on what kind of audible warning a cyclist should give. In a recent comment thread, most people agreed that a driver honking at a cyclist is not helpful but rather feels like intimidation. But people didn't agree about the ped-bike interaction.

Some people who walk on multi-use trails said they wanted to hear a warning or bell, while others feel like hearing a bell sounds like an arrogant command to move over instead of a helpful alert for safety.

What do you think? Please give your opinions in the form below.

Regardless of what warning turns out to be the consensus, pedestrians won't be able to hear an audible warning if headphones or other devices make it impossible to hear anything. Cyclists on a multi-use trail need to realize they are the less vulnerable road user and take care to react to unpredictable pedestrian moves, but people walking or jogging also should recognize that they're on a shared trail where cyclists will travel at some speed and try to be predictable, keep pets on short leashes, and so on.

By that token, sidewalks aren't the same as trails. If a person on a bike wants to use a sidewalk, they must act like guests, deferring to pedestrians no matter how slowly they want to walk or how much they are blocking the path. To travel faster, ride in the road.

The survey is now closed. We will post results shortly.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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  • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
  • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

by Nick on Jun 12, 2012 8:45 am • linkreport

"On your left" doesn't work. Pedestrians who have never heard it before have no idea what it means, not even that it comes from a nearby bicyclist. Even those who have heard it before don't necessarily make the association.

Bicyclists seem to have the impression that it's a magic spell: uttering it will automatically cause the pedestrian to move right.

I don't know how to fix the mix of recreational cyclists and pedestrians on mixed use paths.

by jim on Jun 12, 2012 8:46 am • linkreport

  • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
  • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

by elizqueenmama on Jun 12, 2012 8:50 am • linkreport

  • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
  • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

Cyclists often shout "on the left" as they're already on top of me. Shouting doesn't help you slow down or maintain control of the bike. Bikes need to slow down when sharing a path or sidewalk; they don't have the right of way or the expectation that pedestrians will fling themselves off the pavement for them.

by Sarah on Jun 12, 2012 8:50 am • linkreport

"On your left" is an ambiguous statement. Pedestrians almost never know what it is or what action to take.

I always use "Move Right!" A command, strongly sent, will send most pedestrians to the side of the trail where they will be safe.

"On your left" sounds polite, but a confused pedestrian needs a strong command.

by Nate on Jun 12, 2012 8:51 am • linkreport

  • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
  • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

Tragic story. This is a tough issue - people are different and will react differently to signals. I have experience with multi-use trails since childhood so "on your left" is well known to me, but everyone everyone may not have that experience. And I've had such a wide variety of experiences on long walks on multi-use trails in the area that its hard to say what the answer is.

On the W&OD Trail the speed and volume of biking was so intense that I haven't been back since, trail etiquette notwithstanding. Most signaled, but a significant number of serious cyclists were hauling butt and not signaling. (Incidentally, I was hit by an out of control 6 year old kid on a bike and the resulting faceplant was bad enough. Can't imagine an adult cyclist at speed hitting a pedestrian.)

Just this week I was walking on Sligo Creek Trail and was stunned by how few cyclists audibly signaled. I ended up shouting thanks to those who did. One lady cruised downhill merrily talking on her bluetooth! My sense is lack of signaling is a problem with more casual cyclists but that could be wrong.

I'd love to see park rangers or friendly volunteers hanging out along the trail flagging people down and sharing proper trail etiquette. Or maybe trail signage regarding sharing the path and proper signaling? Pedestrians obviously need to be aware as well, particularly of what part of the trail they're using, dog leashes, etc. I know the Anacostia trails pretty well and I've never seen any such signage. I think education would be a good start.

by Brent Bolin on Jun 12, 2012 8:52 am • linkreport

  • Trail: Slow down, Passing
  • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

I do feel like pedestrians are unpredictable - they may move to the right if I say "on your left" or they may move to the left. People in this area with dogs tend to be pretty good about being aware and taking up slack in the leach when I approach, moreso than I've found other places. Sometimes families are taking up the entire path, including toddlers and tricycles.

by Patrick Krisak on Jun 12, 2012 8:52 am • linkreport

    On your left doesn't really make sense, especially when someone is approaching quickly. Every time I hear a cyclist say something like this I still don't know what it means.

    Saying, I'm passing on your left is a lot more helpful.

    Also, on most trails, people on foot have the right of way over cyclists. If more cyclists road with more caution, we shouldn't have to have these discussions.

    by Patrick Thornton on Jun 12, 2012 8:52 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: Say nothing

    by Allen on Jun 12, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Steve on Jun 12, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    There also needs to be a discussion about trails and adequate bike facilities. I do whatever is safest on any occaison (which means slowing down to walking speed sometimes) and the trails as they are should be leisure as well as transport but we'll be caught in a visicious cycle if we consistently make the roads to dangerous to feel safe in and the trails to slow to actually mean anything. Especially as the trails are becoming more popular.

    by drumz on Jun 12, 2012 8:54 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    Most of my bikes don't have bells. I tend to enunciate "passing - on your left" in clear tones as I approach a pedestrian or closer cyclist, then again as I get closer. Hands are always on the brakes, at the ready, and I always assume that pedestrians may misinterpret what I say (or not hear me at all due to headphones/phone conversation/in-person conversation/daydreaming/other hearing impairment).

    And the only time I tend to ride on the sidewalk is in the last block of my commute, when it is the only safe passage between points A and B, or in places where the sidewalk doubles as a bike path (e.g. The Mall). But to me, the sideWALK is just that: a pedestrian thoroughfare, not a cyclists' express lane. 99 times out of 100, I'm on the street, being a vehicular cyclist.

    by Rudi Riet on Jun 12, 2012 8:54 am • linkreport

    We need to formalize legislation that protects the weaker party and holds the stronger party responsible for the primary safety role.

    Pedestrians > Bicyclists > Motorists

    This is similar to motorists being ticketed for a rear-ending a car that stops short. If the offending car kept the appropriate safe distance and speed from the suddenly stopped vehicle, the moving vehicle would have been able to stop in time to prevent collision.

    There are accidents and there is negligence.

    by cmc on Jun 12, 2012 8:54 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by JT on Jun 12, 2012 8:56 am • linkreport

    Also I've found that just saying "excuse me, on your left" gets people to turn around and then they move over on their own accord.

    by drumz on Jun 12, 2012 8:57 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I'm with Rob, the key is to start signalling a good distance back to give people time to react and you time to react to their reaction. I vote bell because a good bell is going to be louder and more attention grabbing than most people's voices.

    by Chris Slatt on Jun 12, 2012 8:57 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    Multi-use paths can be very dangerous. For cyclists, pedestrians are effectively stationary objects. In an ideal world, cycling paths would be separate from walking paths. In our imperfect world, all trail users must be on high alert.

    by Sam on Jun 12, 2012 8:57 am • linkreport

    When I hear "on you left" as pedestrian, I do not know if the bicyclist is either asking me to move left, or is telling me that he/she will be passing on the left and want me to move right. So of course I turn around to see what the bicyclist is trying to do, but usually the bicyclist is moving way too fast and is already on top of me.

    So sorry about the elderly woman. I wonder if the bicyclist had insurance -- right now, he probably wishes he had it.

    by goldfish on Jun 12, 2012 8:59 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Say nothing

    Only say something if you need the pedestrian to do something. If the pedestrian is just strolling on right side of the path leave him/her alone and pass at a safe distance. If the pedestrian looks erratic or you can't figure out what they are going to do, slow down and let them know you are behind them. Give a warning in a standard english complete sentence and pass them.

    by Tom on Jun 12, 2012 9:00 am • linkreport

    When I am walking and hear somebody call "on your left", my automatic response is to turn to my left. And I am not a senior citizen.

    If somebody on a bicycle yelled "Move right" at me, I would not feel charitable towards that person.

    by Miriam on Jun 12, 2012 9:00 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    The key is to alert the person on foot with enough advance notice that you elicit a response, or no response, from that person and can react to it. As a runner, I acknowledge their signal with a right hand raise, this is hopefully letting them know I am not going to do anything stupid and they can pass without worrying about what I will do.
    I have also heard from fellow runners "If they (bikers) want 3 feet on the road they are going to have start giving me 1 and a 1/2 on the trail".

    by Patrick Benko on Jun 12, 2012 9:03 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I notice that calling out or ringing a bell is pointless most of the time. The pedestrian has headphones or isn't paying any attention. If I notice they are not walking in a straight line or acting in a way that makes me think they won't continue going straight I will call out. However, if they are on the right side of the trail and have been walking/run in a straight line while I have been observing them, I usual just go past without saying anything. The chances of the pedestrian turning around and walking into your path are too high in my opinion just like the incident on the Four Mile Trail. I have had a lot of similar instances where this nearly happened. I know this isn't how cyclist are supposed to be taught but in my opinion the cost/benefit isn't worth it except is specific situations.

    by Ryan Sigworth on Jun 12, 2012 9:03 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I would amend #3 to say that I also walk on a sidewalk with many bicyclists (16th St) many times a week.

    1. A multi-use path is exactly what it says: a path with multiple types of users, and in that situation we are going to expect a lot more interaction. Both cyclists and pedestrians have to be aware that there will be other users.

    2. The speed differential between peds and bikes on these paths is as big as bikes and cars on a fast road. Peds are walking 3-4mph, bikes are going 10-12mph and more. That's 3 or more times as fast - that's like a cyclist on the road at 15mph and cars zooming by at 45.

    It seems to me that in this case the cyclist was going too fast for the situation, did not announce their presence early enough, and passed too closely, but we don't know exactly what happened. I bike in shared spaces often enough to know that plenty of pedestrians look or turn left when you say "on your left." This is something you have to expect and be ready to take evasive action. Pass slowly if you need to and only when you can see that there isn't traffic coming the other direction.

    There are so many examples of bad behavior by bicyclists on multi-use spaces in the DC area (including RCP on the weekends). Most of it seems to be bred by the same sort of unwarranted impatience that plagues many car drivers when it comes to bikes.

    by MLD on Jun 12, 2012 9:03 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    Many people are unfamiliar with the idea that cyclist shout a warning before passing. It takes only a few such interactions to train oneself not to turn in confusion. But cyclist should be aware that some pedestrians will do exactly that, and they have no way of knowing which ones will.

    Also, some cyclists wait until they are very close before giving a warning. A warning when you are right behind me doesn't help much, and may startle me if I don't know you're there.

    by Rich on Jun 12, 2012 9:03 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    "On your left" always makes me look left, my body often shifting left in the process. Just as "duck" doesn't make me evade; it makes me look up

    by Bossi on Jun 12, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by Erin Molloy on Jun 12, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    My condolences to the pedestrian and her family.

    I try to sound as polite and grateful as possible, and say "passing on your left," on sidewalks and the trail. On the sidewalk, I slow down a lot to pass. I also only ride on sidewalks with few pedestrians, and only when the road is not a very good option (upper 16th St.).

    On the trails, I don't slow down as much. If pedestrians are wearing headphones, I don't waste my breath to call out.

    Lastly, your speed has to be appropriate for the situation. If it's crowded, you can't ride as fast as you might like, but that's just how it goes.

    by JMarcusse on Jun 12, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

    If I give a warning its "I'm passing you on your left". BTW I also slow down when I say nothing but it wasn't a choice. I guess the poll assumes that people who say nothing are reckless maniacs.

    by Tom on Jun 12, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left

    There needs to be a speed limit (yes difficult to enforce) on multi-use trails, especially in high density areas like 4-mile run. If you want to bike faster than 15mph - get on the road. Also adding signs that include a common phrase (b/c not everyone has a bell) like "on your left" will educate everyone involved. Additionally, there should be sinage to discourage biking 2 abreast and walking 2-3 abreast during heavy-use periods. Finally, as new trails are built we should build them wider. If we want to encourage physical fitness and alternatives to private vehicles then we need te infrastructure to support that - wider trails/paths.

    by andy2 on Jun 12, 2012 9:09 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    I generally think cyclists should stay off sidewalks, but when they're there, they should be very deferential to pedestrians. I bike to work a few times a week, but I am fortunate to have bike paths most of the way to work.

    by Chris on Jun 12, 2012 9:10 am • linkreport

    Tom: You can check multiple. So check "Slow down" and "say nothing."

    by David Alpert on Jun 12, 2012 9:11 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Say nothing

    I think that yelling "passing" or ringing a bell are both fine. I do think "left" can elicit confused responses.

    On very crowded multi-use trails, where a given pedestrian is passed several times each minute by cyclists, it doesn't make sense for each one to warn the pedestrian. Conversely, when there is less traffic, it makes sense for warnings each time. I also adjust my warning behavior based on whether I am forced to pass relatively closely or further away from a pedestrian based on the width of the trail.

    A cyclist on a sidewalk is a guest and should never indicate that any action on the part of pedestrian is necessary.

    by Jameel Alsalam on Jun 12, 2012 9:15 am • linkreport

    I think that walkers should act just as cyclists do when a car comes up from behind -- take the entire lane and make the cyclist slow down and wait until it's safe to pass you. Why should walkers on a trail who are talking to their friends and family or listening to music have to yield to cyclists simply because they are slower? Cyclists don't expect to have to move into a bike lane or the shoulder of the road to accommodate cars, why expect walkers to have constantly move? And, frankly, I hope that the woman's family sues the cyclist for damages based on negligence. I'd award damages if I were on that jury.

    by Socket on Jun 12, 2012 9:16 am • linkreport

    I second (or third?) the need for more education on "trail etiquette". I still remember my first experience riding on an urban trail, and the signs at entrance points introduced me to what felt like a new world: clear instructions that pedestrians had the right of way, what calls should be used and how both parties ought to react.

    Perhaps weekend attendants to help pass out information or explain the norms of the trail for short bursts of time (at the start of summer when use increases) could help spread the word.

    Finally, I'll add that I much prefer to use a bell over my voice. Part of it is purely aesthetic; if I'm out for a ride (I'm always on an upright commuter bike and consider the pursuit to be rather leisurely), yelling at pedestrians every few yards puts a damper on the experience. BUT, it also avoids much of the confusion on right v. left. (I've found many folks instinctively move to the side of the trail with the bell, very rarely in front of me; with vocal signals it's more of a mixed bag.)

    Hopefully my cheery little bell doesn't come across as rude! It is certainly not intended that way. (Unless you're one of the mobs of folks on, say, the Mall who totally ignore it even as I ride at a snail's pace while you block the entire path searching your map in vain for a nearby place to eat. But that's annoying for pedestrians, too, right?) (That's when the loud, polite, but somewhat pointed "Excuse me!" comes in handy.)

    by Elle on Jun 12, 2012 9:16 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    This comment is more about sidewalks than multiuse trails, but I think the general sentiment applies to both. Wherever multiple forms of transportation interact, the most vulnerable should ALWAYS have the right of way. Bikes should have the right of way over cars, and pedestrians should have the right of way over bikes. I don't object to cyclists being on the sidewalk (I often do so myself if it seems safe - i.e., few pedestrians), but I am aghast at the number of cyclists (many on CaBi) on the crowded sidewalks near my downtown office who whizz by pedestrians without warning or apology. It's easy to think that a 20-30 lb bike moving much slower than a car couldn't possibly injure someone, but as the story above demonstrates, this obviously isn't the case.

    As cycling becomes more and more popular in the region, the appropriate parties (DDOT, CaBi, etc.) need to get together and come up with a massive public awareness campaign to educate EVERYONE (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians) of their rights and responsibilities. I'm sure this is not the first time someone has suggested this, but too many people are simply unaware of the rules, or think they know the rules but have been given bad information.

    by Rebecca on Jun 12, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing on your left - then thank you
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing on your left - then thank you

    I think we also need to consider what pedestrians expect bicycle riders to do. And the other way around too. It's not possible to develop a standard that everyone will know in advance. The bicycle rider needs to ride in a way that unpredictable reactions by pedestrians are still safe interactions.

    by Mitch Wander on Jun 12, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Yield to pedestrians

    I used to ride on trails a lot more than I do now; they're often just too crowded and I don't feel comfortable weaving in and out between people, kids, dogs, etc. That said, I'd always found ringing the bell followed by "on your left" to be an appropriate warning. The problem is that along with people wearing headphones, kids and dogs (especially those with an affinity for bicycles) don't heed any warnings.

    by Adam L on Jun 12, 2012 9:19 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I think a lot of the blame for conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists is awareness. The vast majority of joggers on multi-use paths are wearing headphones something I would never do. Also many walking pedestrians clump into slow-moving groups as they walk and talk. Better signage reminding pedestrians to be vigilant and keep to the right would be very helpful. While cyclists should always be responsible for their speed and only pass when safe beyond that pedestrians need to start taking more personal responsibility.

    by Russell on Jun 12, 2012 9:20 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    by Maura Williams on Jun 12, 2012 9:21 am • linkreport

    @Nate: Move right? Seriously? I would think you'd get a string of obscenities as a reaction.
    I agree with Sarah and Patrick Thornton and cmc - on a "bigger vehicle" you need to be more cautious of those on "smaller vehicles" so cars need to be careful of bikes and peds, cyclists need to be careful of peds. I can't believe how many bikers cruise along the sidewalk by the zoo where there are tons of kids, ringing their bell and expecting everyone to get out of their way.

    by Urbanette on Jun 12, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Jonathan on Jun 12, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I am a cyclist and even I get a little confused when I hear "on your left" as a pedestrian. I prefer to use a bell to announce my presence well in advance and then kindly thank them for letting me pass when I ride by. It's no different than merging or passing when driving a car.

    by Ginevra on Jun 12, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    Since I often walk with a friend, I would love if cyclists in a group would indicate how many of them are in their group. Often cyclists will defer to the first cyclist calling 'on your left' and then 2+ cyclists go past without letting me know. When this happens we will walk single file assuming we just need to let one cyclist pass and then we go back to walking side by side only to have two or three more cyclists come flying by. Perhaps '3 on your left' or some such would let me know how long I should stay to the left. Thanks!

    by sm on Jun 12, 2012 9:25 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    I agree with those who say we need better infrastructure all around. Generally, I've found that multi-modal trail use is rarely a problem between cyclists and runners (even the runners that have headphones on tend to hug the right side of most trails.

    My biggest challenge as a cyclist are groups of pedestrians (often, but not exclusively, tourists) who walk 2, 3, or even 4 abreast, taking up the entire trail in one or both directions, and taking offense at any notification of intent to pass.

    by Jacques on Jun 12, 2012 9:25 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: On your left

    Always have to look for the wires to the earbuds, indicating a runner who has intentionally made himself/herself deaf to bicyclist warnings, whether bells or shouts.

    by Jack on Jun 12, 2012 9:25 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    Passing to the point where you have to move into on-coming traffic should only be done when there is plenty of time to get out of the way of the people in the other direction. Cyclists seem to act like the pedestrian on the right-hand side should move out of their way when the cyclist is the person who should be making sure there is room to pass.

    by Theo16 on Jun 12, 2012 9:26 am • linkreport

    • Trail: , Please Move Right
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Matt C on Jun 12, 2012 9:27 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    by Paul cooper on Jun 12, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    I bike to and from work about once a week. I go on the street, on sidewalks, and on a trail. When on sidewalks or on a trail, if I see a pedestrian, I'll consider them to have the right of way. I'll ring my bell to alert them that I'm coming up behind them. Usually they will then give me space to pass but there's no predictability about it. They could move in either direction, not move, or not let me pass. If they don't let me pass, then they don't let me pass and I have to ride very slowly behind them. I might then try another tack, such as talking to them. I certainly wouldn't just run into them. If they give me space, I'll use that space. Note that I ride on streets and paths that are not crowded. It gets more problematic when there are many bikes going both directions and you have to worry about bikes coming the other way and bikes passing YOU from behind (which you'll almost certainly DON'T know they are).

    by Mario on Jun 12, 2012 9:31 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by Ryan on Jun 12, 2012 9:31 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    I don't say anything on a sidewalk b/c I'm the interloper and shouldn't be riding faster than anyone is walking unless there is PLENTY of room for me to pass.
    On multi-use, I think we really need to get cyclists to use bells. They're quite pleasant sounding to begin with, and not threatening. A simple "ding" sound from a bell is easily recognizable and it's simple to process quickly. Someone yelling really isn't pleasant and, unless you have a booming voice, may not be understood, especially in windy or inclement conditions.
    I agree that we need to educate on proper etiquette, but I don't know that there is consensus yet on what best practices are. Hopefully this poll will shed a little light on that and from there we can move to post signs at trail-heads and get the ambassadors out.

    by thump on Jun 12, 2012 9:34 am • linkreport

    The cyclist was clearly going too fast, if they couldn't stop to avoid the collision.

    Period.

    by William on Jun 12, 2012 9:34 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, ring bell lightly
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    by sk on Jun 12, 2012 9:36 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Say nothing, I think if people hear "left" they're more likely to move that way, unless they are familiar with the trail.
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, In most cases, defer to pedestrians and say "excuse me" if someone is difficult to pass

    I say err on the side of caution towards pedestrians.

    But to be totally honest, a lot of pedestrians just need a lesson in manners. Even when walking, I've encountered way too many groups of two or more people that take up the entire sidewalk/isle/whatever and feel entitled to do so.

    by Steve VanSickle on Jun 12, 2012 9:37 am • linkreport

    After voting there was a typo on the thank you page.
    Your vite has been saved. Thank you!
    I appreciate this post and hope to see more about communication with traffic on this site. As I said in the last relevant post, I haven't seen a consensus for how cyclists and autos should communicate either so this is a good discussion.

    by selxic on Jun 12, 2012 9:38 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, Saying, "on your left" could be interpreted as look to your left and move there.
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    I drive, bicycle and walk in DC. I find that no matter your mode of transportation you must be aware and understand the issues of those utilizing other modes.

    by Bicyclist Who Also Drives on Jun 12, 2012 9:39 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    You can't assume that the pedestrian can hear you or even see you. The pedestrian might be hearing or sight impaired. You need to slow down and pass pedestrians with great caution even if you think they might have heard your signal or have seen you. Share the space responsibly.

    by PBJ on Jun 12, 2012 9:39 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: , Cyclists should never ride on the sidewalk. Ever.

    Pedestrians are usually not paying attention, and wouldn't know how to respond if they were. An unannounced wide pass is the safest option, because the pedestrian can't screw it up.

    I only announce a pass to other bicyclists, and to equestrians.

    by Michae on Jun 12, 2012 9:40 am • linkreport

    Cyclists should stay off sidewalks, by and large. Furthermore, they should not be traveling so fast on mixed pedestrian/bike trails that these sorts of accidents occur in the first place. If that requires building a bikes-only trail, so be it.

    The problem is not that the bicyclists yelled the wrong thing or used the wrong kind of alert. The problem is that he was going to fast to avoid an accident. There will never be any kind of universally understood "alert" to pedestrians.

    by JustMe on Jun 12, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    This is why I find trails useful for walking or cycling only insofar as nobody else is on them. Why are MUPs thought of as a contribution to cycling infrastructure when they scarcely differ from sidewalks?

    by afeman on Jun 12, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

    Thanks, selxic, I fixed the typo. I was racing to get this set up first thing this morning. And I'm glad you appreciate the post.

    by David Alpert on Jun 12, 2012 9:43 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: On your left

    by Jeff on Jun 12, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, at least give an audible warning
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, any cyclist on the sidewalk should be going very slow or dismount

    This is a terrible tragedy and it reminds us that mixed use trails can be dangerous places. If you're on a bike, slow down and give audible warning when passing. Save your speed for the road.

    by freewheel on Jun 12, 2012 9:45 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I oppose the (apparently in VA legally required) noise signal when passing.

    Anybody, driver, biker, skier, pedestrian should make sure they can pass safely when passing. The audible signal is a sign of naivety. It often startles the person being passed, and it gives the passer the (false) sense of having done his duty, which is incorrect because the passing has not started yet. This is exactly what happened in this case.

    Also, on busy trails there are so many signals that it becomes useless and even more confusing.

    It used to be required for cars to honk when passing. We got rid of that for a reason. The same reason applies for all other audible passing signals.

    BTW: I think this biker should be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. On this forum, it is often mentioned that drivers who hit bikers should be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Well, a fast bike with adult on it is a deadly weapon when thrown at a person.

    by Jasper on Jun 12, 2012 9:46 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    Ultimately the thing that is going to keep people safest in all of these situations is communication. What we need in all of these interaction circumstances (ped/bike, bike/car etc.) is more communication. I understand why the car horn is a problem, because even as a pedestrian I throw dirty looks at people sounding their horn despite it being the only audible communication device a car has. But on a bike, either shouting or ringing a bell (preferably both) isn't terribly disruptive and it lets people know that you're coming.

    I also agree with the sentiment that if the ped's reaction causes a collision, you're going too fast.

    by Josh on Jun 12, 2012 9:46 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    by Crickey7 on Jun 12, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

    The only time this should even be an issue is when the pedestrian is, for some reason, walking in the left (oncoming) lane - otherwise I wait until there aren't oncoming cyclists/runners/walkers and pass wide enough and slow enough. If there isn't room in the oncoming lane to pass, I slow down to the pedestrian's walking/running speed and wait for there to be room. It's exactly how I'd want a car to behave if I'm taking the lane on a 1-lane-each-way street. I don't think you need to signal if they are in the right lane moving consistently forward "with traffic", as any sudden noise is likely to make the pedestrian behave unpredictably.

    And just because it's my pet peeve - rollerbladers need to be on the list as well, and should behave as cyclists, slowing down, passing only when it's safe, and so on - and from my experience they rarely do.

    by Bob on Jun 12, 2012 9:49 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    As a cyclist, I've found that the window between when pedestrians can hear you and when you're too close is very small. When I come across 3 and 4 wide blockades on the MVT, shouting at the top of my lungs often doesn't do anything before it's too late and I have to slow down.

    by AXJeff on Jun 12, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

    A bell is always preferable to shouted warnings for two reasons.

    1. If people fail to understand what is being said, people naturally turn towards the speaker, which means they will turn and probably move left, like the elderly victim did.

    2. Anything that includes the word "left" is a bad idea. Pedestrians are asked to react in less than a second, and even assuming the message comes across clearly as "Passing on your left" (rather than "NUR LEFT!") there will always be an unacceptably high rate of errors where they move left.

    "On your left" is cool racer talk, but it's bad communicating.

    p.s. I meant to check "bell" for the trail, but forgot.

    by Matt C on Jun 12, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    On a trail I usually say nothing because in my experience in often causes reactions that cause more problems than they solve. On streets I sometimes use a bell.

    by spookiness on Jun 12, 2012 9:51 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    A bicyclist ringing a bell for a ped is NOT the same as a (loud) honk by a car, bus or truck for a bicyclist. The size and weight differential is much, much less with bike/ped. Plus, bell is not so loud!! C'mon -- anyone reading arrogance into a bike bell is at least partly under the sway of preconceived opinions about bicyclists. Of course, there ARE some inconsiderate and/or arrogant cyclists.
    -Sean Streiff

    by Sean on Jun 12, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I don't use multi-use paths with any degree of frequency anymore, mostly because they're pretty much nonexistent between Brightwood and the majority of the places I ride. Years ago, when I commuted between Arlington and the District, I used them every day, and I can't say I miss them. It's difficult enough to share the trail with cyclists of varying strengths and speeds; when you add pedestrians (particularly large tour groups near the monuments, or families walking with small children on any trail) and runners into the mix, stress levels tend to get pretty high for all those involved. Having separated paths for cyclists and peds/runners would be safer for everyone.

    by The Brightwoodian on Jun 12, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

    Did anyone read the originating post? The trail was @ 80 feet wide at scene. How could biker not have time to swerve or stop? Should not have happened.

    Am sympathetic to cyclists complaints @ cars on the road - bikers need to assume same responsibility on sidewalks/trails.

    by Jellenp on Jun 12, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

    Also, both my wife and I have hit joggers while bicycling before. Both times, however, it was the result of the jogger executing a u-turn on the trail without looking and while wearing headphones. For my wife, we were riding at dusk, she had a blinking front headlight, and the jogger was coming at us. Yet, inexplicably, the jogger stepped directly in front of an oncoming bicycle, resulting in a collision. For me, I had yelled, "on your left," moved completely over to the left edge of the trail, and the jogger, oblivious to it all, made a u-turn to head back in the other direction. There was simply no time to react. Both times, we were at random places on the MVT - not an an intersection, bend, mile marker, or other significant point. I assume these joggers are going for a certain number of songs or something, then turning around. Thankfully, all parties escaped with only scrapes a bruises.

    For you Hunt for Red October fans out there, my wife and I now yell "Crazy Ivan!" every time we see the no-look spontaneous u-turn with headphones.

    by AxJeff on Jun 12, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I hate to say it but some cyclist think that these trails are their person race track and assume they have right of way. They simply just have to slow down.

    by RedShirt on Jun 12, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left, Shouting isn't the word I'd use for a verbal heads up
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left, Shouting isn't the word I'd use for a verbal heads up

    by Matt on Jun 12, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

    I'd say "bell" in all circumstances.

    Someone used "on your left" on me last week when I was out for a walk. I didn't have any idea what it meant until I turned and saw him coming up on me. Now, I was keeping to the side, and he was going slow, so there was no trouble. Still, as a pedestrian I don't expect to hear "on your left", so it means nothing to me. A bell I expect, and react to accordingly...and so, I wager, do most other non-cyclists.

    by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jun 12, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

    @jellenp 8 feet wide, not 80.

    by urbanette on Jun 12, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, "excuse me!"
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, "excuse me!"

    I've never understood where the "on your left" concept came from. I'm an experienced cyclist, but in situations where I'm walking or jogging and a cyclist shouts that behind me, I *still* have the first instinctive reaction to move to my left. It's just an inherently confusing comment. I prefer "Excuse me" as being the most polite.

    I also don't like the tone of an imperative command. Pedestrians, even slow-as-molasses pedestrians, have the right to be on a multi-use trail. I'd personally advocate for a 15-mph speed limit for cyclists on multi-use trails, and they should be required to slow down when passing. If you find that too annoying because you are a really fast cyclist who thinks nothing of completing centuries at an 18-mph pace ... well you shouldn't be on a multi-use trail in the first place.

    This goes double for sidewalks. I actually think the bias against riding on sidewalks is overblown, I see nothing wrong with riding on a sidewalk *IF* you ride real slow, yield to pedestrians, and are prepared to dismount at a moment's notice.

    by Marc on Jun 12, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

    I agree with "Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell"...but for sidewalk it should be "Stay off the sidewalk if you are riding a bike." There's no reason a bicyclist should be careening down somewhere like Wisconsin Avenue at 15 MPH on a sidewalk when there are pedestrians everywhere.

    For DC, there are bike lanes all over the city for roads that have a higher volume of car traffic. For side roads or those in neighborhoods where there are more people walking on the sidewalk, bicyclists should stay on the street.

    by J. on Jun 12, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Caterina Fava on Jun 12, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    by Cody on Jun 12, 2012 10:05 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    by Jeff Dailey on Jun 12, 2012 10:06 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    Multi-use trails are really just smaller roads. Pedestrians and cyclists should recognize the danger and vulnerability of each other as well as each other's right to use the trail. Whether you ring a bell or verbally warn someone when you pass them is less important than safely passing them.

    by APost on Jun 12, 2012 10:11 am • linkreport

    It's highly ironic that the print version of the Washington Post today had someone writing in to Dr. Gridlock, as regularly happens, to chastise cyclists for riding on the road when she could see a "beautiful" MUP parallel to the road.

    This is why, in large part. Many MUPs are dangerous all-around for cyclists who go at much more than a walk.

    by Crickey7 on Jun 12, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On the sidewalk the pedestrian has the right of way and cyclists should slow/wait/ for pedestrians.

    by ebgb500 on Jun 12, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, "Excuse me," preferably while going very slow or dismounted

    I only say "on your left" to other cyclists, because they're the only ones I can assume will understand. I agree wholeheartedly with all of the comments regarding pedestrians' natural tendency to turn left when they hear "left."

    And a gentle suggestion to some of my fellow cyclists - a multi-use trail is not the best place to go "all out" when you're training for your next race. If you're that dedicated, you're dedicated enough to find a lightly used rural highway. On a multi-use trail, slowing down - sometimes frequently - just comes with the territory.

    by Dan on Jun 12, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    The U.S., unlike many other countries, has the cyclist on the same side as the pedestrian. This is clearly wrong. If a lycra clad 30mph cyclist is approaching me, head down to reduce wind resistance, I, as a walker, want to see that he/she has seen me. I should not have to walk looking over my shoulder all the time. As I say, I want to see the whites of the eyes of any cyclist that is going to hit me. How America got this wrong beats me.

    by Peter Pennington on Jun 12, 2012 10:21 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, steer as far away as possible
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, on very crowded sidewalks, give up and walk your bike

    I'd also add that cyclists should never expect "safe" behavior from a dog. It's much harder to teach a dog a negative command than a positive command. So while dogs learn to come when called, they usually don't learn "never run in front of bikes." I treat dogs like toddlers: go slow and give a wide berth, because they're probably oblivious to their own safety.

    by Tom Veil on Jun 12, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    Biking: Often, no need to shout; at quieter times, you can just *say* "on your left." Social context is everything. If they're distracted, say sir or ma'am. If they have headphones on, assume they can't hear you; slow down.

    Walking/Jogging: Try to stay to your right; use hand signals to let cyclists know it's safe to pass.

    Always: behave as if the person in front of you is your favorite aunt or uncle.

    by Bill on Jun 12, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    I had never heard of "on your left", I have always used "passing". "On your left" is s statement that doesn't communicate the intent to pass. However I think "Passing" is universally expected to take place on the left side (in this country!) and is a better warning phrase. It is the responsibility of the cyclist to NOT hit the pedestrian, doing whatever is necessary.

    by Mary Longacre on Jun 12, 2012 10:25 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    My biggest pet peeve on trails is the joggers and walkers with headphones on who can't hear any warnings. There are many reasons why jogging with headphones in both ears is unsafe, but for bicycle interactions, most audible bells or shouted "on your left" warnings can't be heard. I'm not sure much can be done to change listening to music while on trails, but if you are running or walking and the volume is too loud to hear other things, you need to stay on the right hand edge of the path, and also maintain a superior situational awareness.

    The worst situation is the headphone wearing "Crazy Ivan" where a pedestrian gets to their turnaround point and makes a U-turn across the trail. The proper technique is to look behind you or step off the trail to the right for just a moment to ensure you aren't about to be passed, then turn around.

    by Will on Jun 12, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

    Drawing from my experience as a daily bike commuter, I have found that calling out or ringing a bell typically increases the risk of a collision. Often pedestrians are using headphones, rendering any warning useless.

    Typically I follow Ryan's technique mentioned above and included here: "If I notice they are not walking in a straight line or acting in a way that makes me think they won't continue going straight I will call out. However, if they are on the right side of the trail and have been walking/run in a straight line while I have been observing them, I usual just go past without saying anything. The chances of the pedestrian turning around and walking into your path are too high in my opinion just like the incident on the Four Mile Trail. I have had a lot of similar instances where this nearly happened [when I do provide a warning]."

    I realize that my typical practices don't conform to official trail rules; however, the ultimate goal is to reduce the chance of a collision and from my experience the no warning technique is least dangerous though admittedly sometimes startling for pedestrians.

    I believe that providing wider trails would significantly reduce the risk of collision. In Fairfax County, a newly paved section of the W&OD is a bit wider than the W&OD/Custis in Arlington. I've noticed that the slight increase in trail width allows for much more comfortable passing buffers.

    by Cody on Jun 12, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Karen on Jun 12, 2012 10:28 am • linkreport

    • Trail: , depends on what/who you are passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

    The answer depends on what you are passing: say nothing when passing an adult walker (reason, the reaction of walkers is unpredictable--better to leave them walking straight than have them suddenly change direction); say on-your-left when passing a runner or biker; slow down and use caution when passing a child or dog.

    by Alan on Jun 12, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Joyce Jones on Jun 12, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    I frequent the rock creek trail in Rockville, and routinely witness arrogant cyclists slipping by joggers/walkers without any indication of their presence, and obtuse pedestrians ambling obliviously across the entire width of the trail.

    Bikers need to slow down and warn of their proximity, and walkers along multi-use trails must be more cognizant of their surroundings. When I am walking along the trails, I keep my earbuds lowered and my head on a swivel; when biking, I indicate my presence by shouting "Passing on your left," but slow to a controllable speed in case a pedestrian didn't hear me or too stupid to understand what I meant.

    by Derek B on Jun 12, 2012 10:36 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, passing on your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, passing on your left

    Ringing a bell to alert the pedestrian 10 seconds or so before passing then saying something "passing on your left" once thy're closer would be ideal. I've had a bicyclist shout something directly behind me and I was so startled that my instinct was to move out of the way of the path that I had been walking (because why else would someone be yelling in my ear unless they were warning me that I was in immediate danger and I needed to get out of the way?) I can see why the poor woman was so startled and reacted the way she did, which is why for the most part I try to avoid being on any sidewalk or trail that bicyclists also use.

    by grumpy on Jun 12, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    Reading about this tragedy and realizing that even at a very slow speed the woman would have been knocked down makes me long for non-multiuse trails. Bikes should be separated from pedestrians for the safety of pedestrians. Biking is for transportation, not recreation. I ride for the former strictly. Even if I were recreating I would be trying to go as fast as possible. That's whats fun and recreational about a bike. Its like flying.

    Additionally, Bicyclists should announce when they are overtaking another bicyclist. Often on the MBT I am passed by faster bikers who do not warn me in any way. Once it almost caused a collision b/c as I approached a pedestrian I rang my bell a couple times (pedestrian had headphones on) and then had to cross over into the left lane to go around just at the moment a biker was overtaking me. Yes i should have looked over my shoulder and now I always do. I learned. But that same biker passed me just yesterday again w/o warning and again almost caused a collision, even though I didn't change lanes, it was right where the MBT meets 8th St NE and he passed me on the little ramp that leads from the trail to the street. I did look over my shoulder before going to the ramp but either I didn't see him or he wasn't visible b/c he was around the bend out of viewing distance when I looked. He did not have a front lamp on (it was still light out) nor was he wearing a brightly colored shirt that would have stood out from the surroundings when I looked back. Yes, I need a rear view mirror. But it doesn't matter how much equipment I get - I will still be vulnerable to assholes who act in ways that endanger others.

    by Tina Jones on Jun 12, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by IsoTopor on Jun 12, 2012 10:42 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    On sidewalks I ride much slower than on trails and will often get off my bike and walk if more than one or two pedestrians are around.

    by Taylor on Jun 12, 2012 10:42 am • linkreport

    @AxJeff

    Such U-turns are very dangerous. A few years ago a 28-year old woman was jogging on the Katy Trail in Dallas while wearing headphones. She was executing just such a U-turn when bicyclist was trying to pass her. They collided and she ended up dying as a result.

    Unfortunately, these U-turns is one of those things which I don't think we could do anything about. I do think cyclists should alert anyone they're trying to pass just in case said anyone is thinking of cutting across the trail (as well as hopefully having them give some space to pass if needed). But if they ignore the warning and cut across suddenly anyway, there's nothing to be done about it or in anticipation of it. Unless we really expect cyclists to slow to a crawl every single time they pass someone. I certainly don't and think that this particular point will have to remain an acceptable risk. Something we accept in order not to have cyclists have to slow down to walker or jogger speed every time they pass someone.

    by Mario on Jun 12, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Randy Sifers on Jun 12, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, get off your bike and walk

    Trails and sidewalks are for people, not bikes.

    by dcredhead on Jun 12, 2012 10:47 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

    Tragic, but it was only a matter of time. I'm surprised it hasn't happened on sidewalks yet; I see enough speeding bikes passing people with no signal whatsoever.

    by OctaviusIII on Jun 12, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

    Oh, and if it's a blind person I say, "Bicyclist coming up behind/in front of you on your [direction]."

    by David Edmondson on Jun 12, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left, When I'm on bike and I pass a pedestrian (or very rarely another bike, since I am about the slowest biker in the world), I usually say "I'm going to pass on your left." That seems to take out the ambiguity.
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by mvm on Jun 12, 2012 10:50 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by ST on Jun 12, 2012 10:50 am • linkreport

    Also, why don't they make multi-use trails wider (or even create a third pedestrian-only lane) so that walkers can walk in peace and cyclists can give pedestrians sufficient room so that no warning is needed?

    by grumpy on Jun 12, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    "Multi-use" trails are not speedways for bicyclists. Many of the same people who whine about lack of concern and intimidation from motorists are themselves guilty of excessive velocity and aggresive behavior on trails.

    by Joe Cascarano on Jun 12, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

    "I always use "Move Right!" A command, strongly sent, will send most pedestrians to the side of the trail where they will be safe."

    If a cyclist or anyone else behind me shouted out a command, I'd probably punch them as they tried to pass. You don't have the right to issue commands to anyone unless it's an emergency or they are your child.

    by DTSSER on Jun 12, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    Too often in my experience, pedestrians are confused by "passing on your left." Even many novice cyclists are surprised by it; it really only works well among roadies. This is particularly true locally, since many people walking on trails are international visitors unfamiliar with the protocol and since many local trails are alongside loud, busy roads.

    Not to make light of a dark situation, but <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7oGk-ozhKI">this amusing Japanese video</a> illustrates a society with an excellent implicit understanding of how to share space. Japanese cyclists generally ride slowly, for short distances, and on the sidewalk; longer trips are usually made by train.

    by Payton on Jun 12, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    Always slow down when you encounter pedestrians ahead of you. Make them aware you are behind them and about to pass them, but also make a wide girth around them and never assume they know you are there.

    by Brad Rumph on Jun 12, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

    re seperate lanes for cyclists and peds - that exists on Ocean parkway in brooklyn. both cyclists and peds still end up in the wrong lanes.

    Wrt sidewalks. There are places in the suburbs where there is no other good option and peds are few, and sidewalk is the least bad choice. Cyclists must be especially careful there.

    Trails - In general people should bike suitably slowly on them when peds are present, and give SOME notice - bell or verbal warning. Any experienced ped trail user knows exactly what "on your left" means - I dont think an alterative verbal cue will work better - but must be combined with suitabl bike speed.

    I havent read the original article yet - but could this be a relative newbie cyclist, at age 62 perhaps not in the best shape (no insult to the inshape 62yo's) who felt a need to build up speed on the downhill to make it up the next hill? For newbie/out of shape cyclists, the need to slowdown for safety on a downhill needed for momentum, can be a problem.

    by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 12, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

    "The U.S., unlike many other countries, has the cyclist on the same side as the pedestrian. This is clearly wrong. If a lycra clad 30mph cyclist is approaching me, head down to reduce wind resistance, I, as a walker, want to see that he/she has seen me." I disagree, it's better if bike and ped are on the same side. If the biker is heading toward the walker, the distance between the two closes at a much faster rate, giving each less time to react. And, there's also topography: If there's a hill, you have more time to react to what's heading in the same direction as you -- as opposed to someone suddenly popping up at the top of a hill, coming right at you.

    As a biker (and, as I previously admitted, a slow one), it seems like the real problem is the 30 mph cyclist (regardless of his attitude toward lycra). On the narrow and hilly mixed used paths we have, 30 mph is just too fast. You say, "How America got this wrong beats me," but I think this this an instance of America getting it right. U-S-A! U-S-A!

    by mvm on Jun 12, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Passing, On your left, behind you
    • Sidewalk: Passing, On your left, behind you

    by jason on Jun 12, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Melanie on Jun 12, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    I got a bell for precisely this reason. Every time I yelled, "On your left," the pedestrian turned to their left, often right in front of me. (Cyclists did it too.) People seem to know what bells mean and they just move to the right without looking back.

    by Shawn on Jun 12, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    by mch on Jun 12, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    The faster should yield to the slower. Riding fast down a trail with walkers on it yelling on your left/right, ringing bells is useless. People should not have to jump out of the way. The person on the bike should slow down.

    by info81 on Jun 12, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

    Nearly a hundred comments in, and nobody has yet mentioned John Forester, so I'll step up and play the part of the curmudgeonly old grouch. (And only one mention, in passing, of vehicular cycling.) This tragedy illustrates exactly what John Forester rants on about on his website and in his nearly 20-year old book. That is, the idea that lumping cyclists and pedestrians together, on multi-use trails, simply because neither are motorized misses the essence of cycling.

    Bicycles are vehicles and vehicles can follow the rules of the road, and the rules of the road allow high speed traffic to flow safely. By contrast, there are no rules of the sidewalk--the relatively slow speed and extreme maneuverability of pedestrians means that "don't run into one another" suffices. So not only is there no official code, it is unnecessary for pedestrian safety and imposing a code on pedestrians would be unreasonable.

    Multi-use trails are poorly defined hybrids. There is no universal set of multi-use trail rules, and I don't think you could really reach a consensus amongst racing cyclists, plodding cyclists, runners, joggers, walkers, dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, children, in-line skaters, skateboarders, and whomever else wishes to use a multi-use trail.

    There are only two viable options. First, make it a bicycle-exclusive trail, on which one follows the rules of the road and upon which pedestrians are not allowed. Second, treat it like a sidewalk, which means that cyclists may not go too fast. In particular, it is exclusively the responsibility of cyclists to avoid collisions with pedestrians--a sort of level of responsibility that is often cited in the Dutch model of motorist responsibility. Cyclists must not presume that pedestrians can hear or see them, or that pedestrians will stay to the right, or keep in a straight line. If necessary, this could mean that cyclists will be traveling no faster than the pedestrians.

    I do understand that most cycling advocates have given up on Forester's unyielding absolutism, and that bicycle facilities bring out more cyclists and that increasing numbers of cyclists is the best way to improve cycling safety. But some of the things that Forester says are still relevant.

    by thm on Jun 12, 2012 11:17 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    by Paul on Jun 12, 2012 11:19 am • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: On your left

    I think a major part of the problem is poorly marked trails. I have seen trails in other states which clearly state how to warn pedestrians and what pedestrians should state. My favorite trail, the CCT, has none of this. I see people walk on the wrong side, people walk 3 or 4 abreast, people completely unaware of the bikes around them. That said, as as cyclist, I'm prepared to slow or even ride off the trail to avoid a collision.

    by Matt on Jun 12, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I put these rules together for the CCT so they may not be appropriate for every trail.

    RULES FOR WALERS/JOGGERS
    1) Walk/run no more than 2 abreast.
    2) Walk/run as far right as possible. Avoid the center line.
    3) To reverse direction step off the trail to the right, look both ways then continue. NO U-TURNS!
    4) At dusk be sure you are wearing bright, reflective clothing.
    5) Don't use the trail at night - it is closed except for commuting users.

    RULES FOR DOG WALKERS
    1) Keep your dog on a short lease.
    2) Train your dog to always stay to the outside edge.
    3) If you dog has a tendency to lunge at passing people - don't use the trail.

    RULE FOR CYCLISTS
    1) Moderate your speed according to congestion on the trail.
    2) Slow down when passing. If the person you are passing makes a sudden unexpected maneuver you will have more time to avoid a collision.
    3) Use a *BELL* well in advance of passing. A voice is not easily heard - especially by other cyclists.
    4) Wait your turn to pass slower moving cyclists.
    5) DO NOT PASS INTO THE FACE OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC. The trail is only 10 feet wide. There is NO, repeat NO middle lane.
    6) Only pass by moving to the extreme opposite side of the trail in order to give the person you are passing the maximum clearance. This also provides a safety margin should the person suddenly turn or veer.
    7) Do not pass on blind corners. Note - the trail center line needs to be repainted. I think it would help if a solid line were used in some places.
    8) Do not draft or form ad hoc pace lines. Every cyclist needs to be able to see clearly ahead at all times. The trail is no place for the peloton.
    9) At night use a light - but only on its dimmest setting. Blinding oncoming cyclists creates a serious hazard for them and for you.

    by jeffB on Jun 12, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

    This whole "on your left" craziness only works if you're preaching it to the choir. To be honest, I have never heard that phrase before and certainly wouldn't have known what it meant had I not been reading this article.

    Cyclists should invest in a bell, plain and simple..whether on a trail or sidewalk. They should invest in a daggone bell. It's no reason why any living soul should think "on your left" is an appropriate safety precaution for anyone..young or old.

    If you really are so gung ho about "sharing the road" then invest in a got damn BELL!

    by HogWash on Jun 12, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

    Just wanted to add that I agree the bicyclist in this case was going too fast and/or didn't have complete control of his bike.

    by Tina on Jun 12, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

    This whole "on your left" craziness only works if you're preaching it to the choir. To be honest, I have never heard that phrase before and certainly wouldn't have known what it meant

    Really? If I had said, "Watch out to/on your left" you would not have been able to figure that out?

    No, the problem is that we can't guarantee that your alert will be properly understood, but it's not an unfair assumption.

    by JustMe on Jun 12, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Excuse me/lo siento.
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Megan Odett on Jun 12, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

    Really? If I had said, "Watch out to/on your left" you would not have been able to figure that out?

    Until today, no.

    No, the problem is that we can't guarantee that your alert will be properly understood, but it's not an unfair assumption.

    I would argue that the responsibility falls on the person/mode most likely to cause death. In this case, the cyclist should have used every precaution imaginable to prevent this woman's death. Simply saying, "on your left" is not enough and he/she shouldn't have assumed that someone would understand it, especially someone elderly.

    I imagine that we'll soon read stories advocating for criminal prosecution.

    by HogWash on Jun 12, 2012 11:40 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Passing, On your left, passing on your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left, passing on your left

    "On your left" means nothing to a pedestrian. "Passing" doesn't say where.

    by Andrew on Jun 12, 2012 11:49 am • linkreport

    @JustMe, I'm with HogWash; there's a difference between "on your left" and "watch out on your left", and the former is what I usually hear.

    I know what it means now, and it took no time to learn, but the first time I encountered it as a pedestrian, my instinct was to ask, "what's on my left?" and turn to see. Fortunately, I just turned my head, so I didn't get hit, but the meaning is not intuitive to someone who hasn't heard it before -- and this region has lots of people who seldom walk or bicycle.

    by cminus on Jun 12, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I run on CCT and Rock Creek trail several times a week. Runners like myself and walkers seem to react better (my personal observation) when a cyclist uses a bell. Vocal warnings are useful too, but "on your left" could come from a runner passing, so walkers may think they have more time to move over, or it could cause confusion to elderly walkers. A bell is always associated with a cyclist.

    Cyclists shouldn't speed on a trails either, though I rarely see them doing so, which speaks well to cyclists in the area.

    by Fitz on Jun 12, 2012 11:54 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me

    Yes, the bell gives off the impression of arrogance, but as a functional device it works well. The cycling community can easily remedy this stereotype with a smile and "thanks" when making the pass.

    Generally though, we cyclists need to be prepared to come to a full stop if necessary, while on a multi-use trail.

    Gravelly Point is a particularly bad patch, as delinquent parents let their young children and dogs wander and dart on the Mt Vernon Trail. I think signage there is necessary educate park goers that people do use that section of the trail as a thoroughfare. Those guests get in the way of both runners and cyclists.

    by Justin on Jun 12, 2012 11:57 am • linkreport

    When you're on the sideWALK as a cyclist you should never have to say anything to pedestrian. Slow down and try to get some distance, or stop and walk your bike around them. Pedestrians on a sidewalk have no duty to yield to cyclists.

    by Zac on Jun 12, 2012 11:57 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I live in Munich, where the bike-lane conventions tend to lump cyclists in with pedestrians most of the time (bike lanes are typically a demarcated section of the sidewalk, rather than a lane on the roadway). Whenever the sidewalk is partially blocked by loading trucks or construction, peds and cyclists share the space (and when there's loads of peds, as during Oktoberfest on certain routes, they share the space too).
    Nobody in Germany shouts--everyone uses the bell. I've noticed two things: 1) peds (including myself, when walking) find it offensive if you ring the bell when you're right on top of them, and 2) peds, particularly older people, dogs and kids, do unpredictable things when you ring the bell. So if I can I always curb-hop onto the roadway and get around the crowds that way. If there's traffic and that's not possible, I try to ring the bell from way out, so the peds don't feel intimidated and I have enough time to react to their reaction.

    by Eric Knibbs on Jun 12, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    An unfortunate accident. I agree with rcannon100 - the call needs to be well in advance to adjust for the pedestrian response.

    by Sean Wieland on Jun 12, 2012 12:23 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    I've given up on walking in Rock Creek below Q St because of cyclists speeding excessively. If I have to jump off the trail to avoid you, it's not a proper pass.

    Also, as someone who has used "on your left" before, I still don't always react properly when I hear it -- if it's not said clearly, I've turned left, if the cyclist is too close, I've jumped the wrong way.

    by rusty_spatula on Jun 12, 2012 12:23 pm • linkreport

    An important element here is also trail design. Multi-use trails are fine, but some are getting to crowded. The Mount Vernon trail can get very busy during rush hour. I imagine other trails have the same problem. We should urge the responsible authorities more to widen or separate trails in heavily used areas.

    @ Tina Jones:Bicyclists should announce when they are overtaking another bicyclist.

    No, they should not. They should just pass safely. An audible sounds makes nothing safer. It only creates a false sense of fulfillment for the sound-maker. "I've yelled/rung/whispered at someone, now I can flash by".

    Once it almost caused a collision b/c as I approached a pedestrian I rang my bell a couple times (pedestrian had headphones on) and then had to cross over into the left lane to go around just at the moment a biker was overtaking me. Yes i should have looked over my shoulder and now I always do.

    Two points: You ringing your bell and the pedestrian not hearing shows why making any noise is useless. Many people are to self-absorbed to hear your sound because they have headphones on, are on the phone, or are just sunken in thought.

    Two, the biker behind you should have anticipated you passing the pedestrian. He came from behind, and should have slowed down.

    by Jasper on Jun 12, 2012 12:31 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Excuse me
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Excuse me

    I've always hated the inherent rudeness of "on your left" when going around the city, so now that I'm cycling to work every day I make a point of being very polite and saying "excuse me guys", or "can I get by?" or similar. This is a horrible story, and clearly preventable with basic communication.

    by Patrick on Jun 12, 2012 12:35 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    In this case the cyclist is totally and completely at fault for the death. There is NO EXCUSE, PERIOD. Just like automobiles, the person with the most dangerous object should be the one to be more responsible for the safety of the more vulnerable. Cyclists act far too irresponsibly by going entirely too fast around pedestrians, running red lights, cutting through cross walks, going into opposing traffic, etc. IT MUST STOP!

    by Matthew Swanson on Jun 12, 2012 12:42 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    by Omari on Jun 12, 2012 12:50 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

    Whether I slow down to pass on a MUT depends on the situation. If it's a single runner or walker and they're to the far right and don't have headphones on I think a "passing on your left" will suffice. If it's a larger group or a group with kids/pets, I slow and announce "passing on your left."

    by Chris Tank on Jun 12, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

    "Many people are to self-absorbed to hear your sound because they have headphones on, are on the phone, or are just sunken in thought."

    I walk on trails regularly, I do not wear headphones while doing so and I very much appreciated a noise or signal of some kind, at which I move to the right (given the narrowness of trails,I find that makes me much more comfortable)

    by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 12, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by SamuelMoore on Jun 12, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

    @Jasper, bikers ringing before overtaking other bikers:
    1) the MBT is not heavily used. Mostly I'm by myself and expecting to be mostly by myself/with lots of space between users, just like everyone else biking there. If I know someone is behind me I am more cautious b/c I am aware.
    An audible sounds makes nothing safer
    If I hear it it does. it gives me information about my surroundings and causes me to be ready to respond appropriately, i.e. by not moving left at that very moment/maintaining my course. At the very least it prevents me from being startled when the biker zooms into my peripheral vision at very close proximity.
    2) Two, the biker behind you should have anticipated you passing the pedestrian. He came from behind, and should have slowed down. I agree. However if he'd "binged"* I would not have gone around the ped in the left lane at that moment. i would have waited for him to pass me. However i think being courteous, slowing down and/or communicating, is not part of this individuals' character, so neither was/is going to be elicited from this particular a-hole.

    *(and I heard it - I grant you that there is no guarantee the person you are passing will hear your warning, whether ped or other biker- but then if there is no indication that you successfully communicated, the responsibility for safe passing is completely on the passer. If the person being passed acknowledges the warning it turns into a partnership)

    by Tina on Jun 12, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    It's a tough question. Frankly, I think the ultimate answer is that if you're going fast enough that you don't have time to react to an unexpected move from a ped, you're going too fast. However, this isn't likely to please the road-warrior types.

    by Dan Miller on Jun 12, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    I frequently use bicycle-heavy sidewalks in upper NW DC, and several times I have found myself in situation with a bike barreling down the sidewalk behind me, screaming "on you left/right" with only seconds to spare. The alarm of someone shouting behind you is enough to cause most people to freeze, at least for a second, and in this case, that seemed to be enough to cause an accident. A pedestrian who might be lost in thought or listening to music can't be expected to react instantly and seamlessly to a shout from behind them, and bikers need to realize this.

    by Nick on Jun 12, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I run into this problem all the time when cycling on a path. I would say "I"M ON YOUR LEFT" and ring the bell a couple of times. Most people know what this means and give a wave up. But I've had people walk in the path where I'm at and sometimes I think they do it on purpose, or there just not very intelligent on trail ethnic.

    by alphonso on Jun 12, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by jack johnson on Jun 12, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    There is a problem with most of these alternatives: they assume that the pedestrian can hear. That would not have been true of my mother during the last years of her life, especially if someone were coming from behind, nor is it true of some neighbors who regularly use the sidewalk in front of my house. This possibility seems to point toward yielding to the pedestrian at all times by slowing down and steering far and wide.

    by DC resident on Jun 12, 2012 1:31 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    I much prefer using my bell when riding, it seems so much less obnoxious than shouting. If I'm not sure the pedestrians notice, then I'll shout. Recently, "On your left" failed miserably, and I wound up falling in order to avoid the pedestrians -- who turned out to be from South Africa, and couldn't figure out which side to move to, because they drive on the other side. So I'm thinking of switching to "Passing!" if the bell doesn't work.

    And on sidewalks, I'm the guest, I just wait. Occasionally, a gentle "excuse me", but that's it.

    by SMF on Jun 12, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

    The onus is always on the cyclist in this situation. The most effective way to pass someone is to SLOW DOWN.

    by Dave Murphy on Jun 12, 2012 1:33 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    I do not bike but run at least once a week on the Canal Towpath. I find it much better when cyclists ring a bell. When they shout something, it's often not clear and I find it much more startling.

    by Alex Liebowitz on Jun 12, 2012 1:34 pm • linkreport

    @cmc:

    This is similar to motorists being ticketed for a rear-ending a car that stops short.

    I would argue that this is similar to a motorist who runs down a pedestrian mid-block. In both cases, it's the faster road user who has a moral obligation to exercise due care.

    Of course, the fact that we'll be having a conversation about what the appropriate role of cyclists versus pedestrians in this situation is a good thing--in fact much cyclist behavior on MUTs is terrible.

    But if this were a pedestrian who was run down because they "wandered into the path of a car" we'd shrug, be sad for a moment, and move on. Because drivers have managed to turn streets into a space where any lapse in attention on the part of a pedestrian (or cyclist) justifies their deaths.

    As bad as some cyclists are, if we could get 1/100th of the amount of caution and consideration cyclists show on MUTs from drivers on area roads, we'd have a much safer shared space.

    by oboe on Jun 12, 2012 1:44 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Tim on Jun 12, 2012 1:46 pm • linkreport

    Way to marginalize the death by having the usual ridiculous conversation about, "well when drivers do it."

    A driver didn't mow down a woman and kill her. A cyclist did.

    by HogWash on Jun 12, 2012 1:47 pm • linkreport

    Multi-use paths can be very dangerous. For cyclists, pedestrians are effectively stationary objects. In an ideal world, cycling paths would be separate from walking paths. In our imperfect world, all trail users must be on high alert.

    This is of course, absolutely true. But it's also a direct result of public policy: we've dedicated 90%+ of the public space to roads while making them as uninviting as possible to non-auto use, so every one who wants to get from point A to point B without an auto is left to fight over the scraps.

    So you're left with dangerous situations like the Custis Trail, where the non-auto equivalent of I-66 is routed along a sidewalk.

    by oboe on Jun 12, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

    clarification:

    @oboe, As bad as some cyclists are, if we could get 1/100th of the amount of caution and consideration cyclists show on MUTs from drivers on area roads, we'd have a much safer shared space

    Way to marginalize the death by having the usual ridiculous conversation about, "well when drivers do it."
    A driver didn't mow down a woman and kill her. A cyclist did.

    by HogWash on Jun 12, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

    [This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

    by oboe on Jun 12, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

    by Murn on Jun 12, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by dynaryder on Jun 12, 2012 1:53 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    Truly unfortunate and this may have been nobody's fault. I think a bell is the most audible, most clear communication a cyclist can provide. Cyclists should keep it to 15mph or below on multi-use paths, especially when approaching other trail users. We have cyclist friendly roads such as Hains Point for riding faster. The perception in the comments of the ArlNow article of cyclists as arrogant and entitled is mind-boggling. Cyclists are no more arrogant or entitled than car drivers, pedestrians or anyone else. Everyone is trying to safely use the multi-use trail. When in doubt, slow down, stay alert, and stay to the right.

    by Rory Finneren on Jun 12, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    "On your left!" really means "Move right!" but most cyclists appear to feel that's too bossy, so they try the presumably more polite formulation. The pedestrian most often reacts by moving in the direction s/he heard shouted ("Left!"), which is the opposite of what's intended. It's like those tests with a list of color names printed using OTHER colors, and you have to say what color the ink is. Your brain has to override the impulse to say the word you read rather than the color it's printed in.

    As commenters have suggested, it's a lot easier to ring a bell well behind a pedestrian to give them time to react and move, then steer appropriately. And, yes, the cyclist HAS to slow down.

    by Steve_W on Jun 12, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

    [This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

    by HogWash on Jun 12, 2012 1:57 pm • linkreport


    • Trail: If there's any question at all (elderly, children, etc...) slow down to a walking pace. Never pass three abreast. Give an audible notice.

    • Sidewalk: In an area with any pedestrian traffic, commercial establishments, etc..., you should not be on the sidewalk. Period. If you're on the sidewalk, and it's anything but completely depopulated, you should be cycling at a walking pace.

    by oboe on Jun 12, 2012 1:58 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    by Joey on Jun 12, 2012 2:09 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Mike on Jun 12, 2012 2:11 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    I ride the Capital Crescent Trail several times a week and 95% of the time, "On your left" and ringing a bell accomplish the same thing -- the walker moves to the right. But every so often "on your left" will actually make the pedestrian jump to his left, usually at the last minute, and I have to slam the brakes to avoid a collision. What we need is better pedestrian education.

    (Note: When approaching a large group of teenage girls who seems impervious to repeated dings of the bell, or calls of "coming through," an Airzound Bike Horn really does the trick!)

    by Matt on Jun 12, 2012 2:19 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Paul on Jun 12, 2012 2:20 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Mark Noll on Jun 12, 2012 2:23 pm • linkreport

    "I always use "Move Right!" A command, strongly sent, will send most pedestrians to the side of the trail where they will be safe."
    If a cyclist or anyone else behind me shouted out a command, I'd probably punch them as they tried to pass. You don't have the right to issue commands to anyone unless it's an emergency or they are your child.

    Yes. Moreover, the faux concern for the pedestrian's safety is just code for "get out of my way." Ordering someone to accommodate you is no way to go through life.

    by dcd on Jun 12, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    by Scott on Jun 12, 2012 2:29 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    Slowing down so you are not at a killing speed is helpful.

    by Cassidy on Jun 12, 2012 2:30 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    by John Burger on Jun 12, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Pardon me

    by Michael Farrell on Jun 12, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

    This whole "on your left" craziness only works if you're preaching it to the choir. To be honest, I have never heard that phrase before and certainly wouldn't have known what it meant had I not been reading this article.

    I agree. It's a little like yelling "fore" at someone who has no experience at golf - there' a decent chance they're still going to get plunked.

    And even if the pedestrian understands what "on your left" means, there are lots of opportunities for confusion. Assuming the cyclist enunciates perfectly (which is a pretty big leap), the pedestrian isn't expecting someone to shout at her from behind, the cyclist is moving quickly, and it's very easy for the pedestrian to hear/interpret something that makes her move to her left. In a perfect world, the cyclist would shout something from far enough away that would make the pedestrian turn around, assess the situation, and move to the right. That's unlikeky to happen often, though. Maybe "passing on your left," accompanied by a bell ring? It doesn't eliminate the potential for confusion, but it informs the pedestrian that someone will be passing, and where.

    Terrible tragedy, and I also feel for the cyclist in this situation, who, from the information available, doesn't appear to have done anything wrong.

    by dcd on Jun 12, 2012 2:35 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    Put a line down the side walk or trail so it is clear that cyclists ride on one side and pedestrians stay on the other side.

    by Bea Porter on Jun 12, 2012 2:36 pm • linkreport

    @John Burger:

    •Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    •Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    Interesting - is there a reasons you choose "on your left" on a trail and "passing" on a sidewalk? I can't think of a reason to distinguish between the two.

    by dcd on Jun 12, 2012 2:37 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    Safety for everyone is paramount

    by Ernest Rodriguez on Jun 12, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by ThomasH on Jun 12, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

    @DaveAlpert; are the results going to be tabulated at all -- or is that too difficult?

    by charlie on Jun 12, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, "I'm passing on your left."
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, "I'm passing on your left."

    by mm on Jun 12, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I bike frequently on multi-use trails, and have found that my bell is almost always understood as intended. Sometimes, people have said "thanks", or "thanks for the bell".

    Occasionally, I get a more sarcastic "thanks", or a resentful look, or a mumbled apology -- all of these indicate that my intent was misunderstood as being aggressive or hostile.

    I avoid shouting, because in order to be heard clearly, it has to be loud, and then I think it comes across as hostile.

    by Urban Garlic on Jun 12, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

    As usual, there are a ton of comments about rude cyclists expecting pedestrians to get out of the way on trails. Perhaps if you hear warnings as rude demands, the problem is on your end? In general, the cyclist ringing the bell doesn't want you to move at all--he wants you to know he is there so you don't walk into him, but is planning to pass in the other lane. (That said, if you're taking up the whole path and you become aware someone is behind you, you should move over like a polite, rational member of society.) For all of those complaining about demanding cyclists, what exactly are you looking for? Should cyclists pass you illegally with no audible signal? (Warning: other pedestrians will be upset if you manage to convince cyclists to go that route.)

    by Mike on Jun 12, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    As an avid cyclist, a cyclist should always make it clear that they are passing a pedestrian (or another cyclist) and the cyclist should always slow down in case they need to stop... you never know what the pedestrian is going to do or even if the pedestrian can hear you (I don't trust people with ear-buds on any trail).

    by joanthan on Jun 12, 2012 3:01 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Cyclists should always observe behavior of peds, slow down, give amble berth
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    It would benefit cyclist to observe the behavior of trail users. Just like observing driving behaviors when urban commuting. Consistant safe cycling behaviors should be practiced at all times.
    In addition, more signage could be implemented to address peds responsibilities as well.

    by David Delewski on Jun 12, 2012 3:33 pm • linkreport

    @oboe - ...we've dedicated 90%+ of the public space to roads while making them as uninviting as possible to non-auto use...

    Its even less.

    current federal transportation bill funds are 98.5% dedicated to roads exclusively. the remaining 1.5% is divided among 12 categories. There is one category for trails on old rail beds, like the MBT, (MUTs) and one category for bike and ped infrastructure.

    http://www.enhancements.org/index.asp

    by Tina on Jun 12, 2012 3:36 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    In the last few years, I have rarely heard ANY warning from a cyclist who passes me. The prevalence of hearing problems and earphones puts a heavy burden on the cyclist to make sure her/his presence is known. Calling out a message is insufficient in an area with many foreigners or even citizens who may not understand English well.

    by Gilbert Adams on Jun 12, 2012 3:40 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    by Neil Becker on Jun 12, 2012 3:42 pm • linkreport

    @Mike - YES! the cyclist ringing the bell doesn't want you to move at all--he wants you to know he is there so you don't walk into him, but is planning to pass in the other lane.

    by Tina on Jun 12, 2012 3:43 pm • linkreport

    The Post, the Examiner and local news stations are reporting that the cyclist did NOT yell out "ON your left," but rather "TO your left." If that's true, then it would appear that the woman actually acted reasonably in response to his command: she moved to her left. I'm sure that he didn't intend her to move into his path, but his language -- assuming of course that the woman both clearly heard him and could understand English -- leaves a lot to be desired.

    by Socket on Jun 12, 2012 3:54 pm • linkreport

    As usual, there are a ton of comments about rude cyclists expecting pedestrians to get out of the way on trails.

    I'm not seeing a lot of that, except in response to the "Move Right!" command one poster uses. There's no way to look at that except as rude. My concerns are more over "on your left" can be easily misunderstood.

    by dcd on Jun 12, 2012 3:56 pm • linkreport

    "On your left!" really means "Move right!" but most cyclists appear to feel that's too bossy, so they try the presumably more polite formulation"

    Maybe I am in the minority, but as a trail user, I have never viewed the phrase "on your left" this way. I use this phrase to mean "I am overtaking/passing you in the opposite lane. You don't need to move over, but please don't stray into my path".

    A cyclist or other faster trail user should never expect others to move out of the way for them. To my way of thinking, a warning call or bell serves to alert the other trail user that one is passing, in order to avoid the risk that the slower user might inadvertently move into the path of the passing cyclist/runner.

    I think whether or not the cyclist is to blame in this accident depends on where the crash actually occurred. If the cyclist had moved to the left side of the path in order to pass, and then the ped moved onto that side, then I don't think he is to blame. But if he was passing too closely, then I think he is.

    by John on Jun 12, 2012 4:28 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Doug W on Jun 12, 2012 4:48 pm • linkreport

    @Jasper On this forum, it is often mentioned that drivers who hit bikers should be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

    Is it? Where has that happened? I agree that the cyclist should probably be charged with something, but this is probably not the right thing. Assault involves intent.

    @Zac When you're on the sideWALK as a cyclist you should never have to say anything to pedestrian.

    That's only if you think the bell means "move over" or even "be careful". But I view it also as saying "FWI. I'm passing you on a bike, so don't be startled" In which case, I do think it's courteous to give them a ring of the bell.

    BTW, here's what I do. I ring my bell when I'm pretty far away. If I see no signal I slow down, get closer and say "passing on your left." If still no signal, I slow down more, swing all the way to the other side of the trail and pass with both hands on the brakes.

    by David C on Jun 12, 2012 4:54 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    Four Mile Run, where two of every three days I run about 3 miles, is about as close to pedestrian hell as any public path I've ever encountered. On the best of days, maybe 3 of 10 bicylists provide any audible warning, despite signage reminding them to. Believing in positive reinforcement, I verbally thank all who offer that needed audible.

    by Bill Boyd on Jun 12, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Brady on Jun 12, 2012 5:16 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

    I regularly commute to work by walking down Massachusetts Avenue on Embassy Row on the SIDEWALK, and I regularly get startled by cyclists that speed past me at 15 miles per hour within 6 inches of my body with NO warning - no bell, no call and do not slow down. Even the ones who do ring a bell do not slow down. This is really unacceptable and dangerous. But what can be done? Cyclists are guests on the sidewalk and should act like it. On multi-use trails, they should yield to pedestrians -- the cyclists are the ones who can do the damage, as evidenced by this sad story.

    by Emme on Jun 12, 2012 5:35 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    Do it the way Germans do: give cyclists the right of way at intersections. For a pedestrian, it is nothing in terms of energy and momentum to stop but for a cyclist, it is very inefficient. Mixed use trails: Pedestrians shouldn't be in the middle of the path, they should give room to cyclists. We should agree on what to do and say (ring bell and/or say something) and then make a public awareness campaign.

    by CL on Jun 12, 2012 5:45 pm • linkreport

    Hmmm. This points to the approaching need for mandating biker's insurance, as someone mentioned in the comments of a previous post. If/as biking becomes a widespread form of transportation, it's going to need to be regulated, which includes licencing, insurance, off-road speed limits, and an enforcement apparatus.

    This post addresses the need for establishing cultural norms for bike behavior, which is fine for now. What happens as the volume of off-road bikes doubles, quadruples, or increases by one order of magnitude? What happens when Americans adopt E-bikes?

    One main reason that more people don't bike more is the physical effort required to navigate long distances and uneven topology. E-bikes will act as an equalizer, so that a much greater number of people can ride at 20 mph on sidewalks and paths, regardless of fitness or need to not glisten after a trip.

    Since we're talking primarily about cultural solutions -- adoption of new norms and such -- we should also be prepared with solutions to problems that would arise strictly as the result of a cultural shift. Affordable E-bike technology exists now; but for a cultural shift -- which could happen rather suddenly -- we don't have to deal with their dangers today.

    by tresluxe on Jun 12, 2012 5:48 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by Michael on Jun 12, 2012 5:51 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    I think the key is that the biker needs to be prepared for any scenario. Near Hunter Mill Road and the W&OD trail, there are bikers all over the road and trail. On the road, as a driver, I take responsibility for not hitting the biker, no matter how slow or how much of the lane they are taking up. As a runner, I expect the biker to avoid me. I will move over towards the right side of the trail but not so far as to risk stepping off the trail and twisitng an ankle. The passer must pass responsibly.

    by Kevin on Jun 12, 2012 5:55 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Julie on Jun 12, 2012 7:24 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, Say nothing

    A cyclist should NEVER come in contact with pedestrians. Cyclist must reduce speeds to avoid collisions AND use every possible audible/voice alert possible to communicate safe passing. Many of us are able to "pedal" at a crawl pace or even balance standing still. If you can't do either, a cyclist should just walk their bike in an area congested with pedestrians. Even if the pedestrian had lived, this would have been reckless endangerment which is punishible by law and with possible civil penalties. Cyclists don't get a free pass in life. This guy should go to jail. He didn't assault the woman, b/c assault suggests intent to do harm; doubt that's what happend, but if it did he should definitely go to jail for a long time for murder.

    by Martin Moulton on Jun 12, 2012 7:29 pm • linkreport

    agree w/ Emme on Jun 12, 2012 5:35 pm

    Cyclist must yield to pedestrians.

    by Martin on Jun 12, 2012 7:34 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    About noon on Sunday I ran down four mile run with my dog, and found many aggressive cyclists. The most agression came from pairs of cyclist speeding through the park.

    by jason on Jun 12, 2012 8:18 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

    by stephen wade on Jun 12, 2012 8:47 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Howard Veit on Jun 12, 2012 9:01 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    When I pass pedestrians on the MVTrail I always slow and say "passing on your left". That works well--except for those wearing headphones.

    by Dave on Jun 12, 2012 9:09 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Hi there, I'm coming by. thanks!
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, say something polite

    Shouting "on your left" is generally understood by cyclists who participate in group rides. It does not mean anything to other people. When I'm riding a multi-use path, I slow down enough to anticipate weird startle responses and say something normal, like "Good morning, I'm coming by over here." If the path is very wide and there are no oncoming bikes or walkers, I will just give the person wide berth and not say anything (especially if they are wearing earbuds or engaged in conversation. When I'm riding, I very much appreciate the fast cyclists who give me a verbal or bell warning before passing, especially when the trail is narrow or congested.

    by Merlin on Jun 12, 2012 9:23 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing, On your left

    by Michael Zwirn on Jun 12, 2012 9:30 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    by Joshua Davis on Jun 12, 2012 9:31 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I don't walk or ride on multi-use trails but I walk every day on DC sidewalks where it is legal for cyclists to ride. Because of the prevalence of earbuds, the best and safest thing for cyclists to do is slow down when passing. Most of them do.

    by TJ on Jun 12, 2012 9:35 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: On your left, Say nothing, If the person is wearing headphones, I say nothing and give wide berth.
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by CNJ on Jun 12, 2012 9:49 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    When you hear someone shouting, its instinctual to turn to look at the source. And if you're walking/running, the body tends to go in the direction you're looking. Thus shouting at pedestrians when approaching from behind causes a fair percentage to move into your path. Bells cause less of that response.

    by jd on Jun 12, 2012 10:00 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    by Todd on Jun 12, 2012 10:13 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    Pedestrians are constantly distracted and arrogant while walking. There is a shared responsibility to prevent accidents. I slow down and still have almost plowed into walkers I am yelling at beginning at 100 yards down to 10 yards and some don't even turn around.

    by sherry on Jun 12, 2012 10:35 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

    by eric on Jun 12, 2012 10:44 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, "Excuse Me"

    by Veronica Davis on Jun 12, 2012 10:58 pm • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

    Cyclists should also give a wide berth (and be prepared to wait behind the pedestrian if the opposite lane is not clear).

    Depending on context, I either ring the bell or say "on your left." I've never had a problem with that statement and am surprised that most people do; but seeing the general sentiment, I may switch to a more specific phrase (although it still has to be concise).

    The key is that, no matter what signals or warnings you give, if the pedestrian makes an unexpected move, you are in a position to avoid a collision (or in extreme cases, minimize injury if there is one). Like driving, you must always be ready to respond to a worst-case scenario.

    by and dont call me shirlington on Jun 13, 2012 12:20 am • linkreport

    All you ring a bell, say something people must not care much for deaf pedestrians.

    by Bama on Jun 13, 2012 12:58 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Passing, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

    I walk in Holmes Run Park in Alexandria and have had to yell quite a few times at bikers to signal. Many of them seem oblivious to other people. The worst offenders are the "Lance Armstrong wannabes", decked out in expensive attire, but lacking courtesy and a knowledge of the "rules of the path".

    by Mary Zoeter on Jun 13, 2012 1:22 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

    by Richard Morse on Jun 13, 2012 2:17 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing
    • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

    by Andres on Jun 13, 2012 2:33 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
    • Sidewalk: Slow down

    I've pretty much given up calling out to people on the multi-use trails. By and large, they are oblivious - either deep in conversation with another person, walking 2-up on the trail (and making me go into the oncoming lane to pass, at best), or going along with headphones/earbuds.
    If they appear predictable, I don't do a thing. If they are unpredictable, I ding. If I get no response, I slow down. If there is oncoming traffic that makes passing unsafe, I slow down to the pedestrian speed and wait for it to clear. Never had a collision - though I've been tempted to hold my ground a few times when (usually oncoming) traffic (ped and bike) doesn't make enough room for safe way.

    by ted on Jun 13, 2012 6:24 am • linkreport

    Why not add, the cyclist also confirmed that his message, sent telepathically to the woman, was confirmed as received.

    She was 81 years old!!

    No amount of so-called cycling etiquette or rule following applies. Hell, if you have to, you get off the damn bike, you walk it around her and you say good day m'am.

    What is all this equivocating? A woman is dead, an elderly person, who was out getting exercise and enjoying life (someone's grandmother or aunt, sister, mother) and we are bickering about 'on your right' 'on your left' and bell ringing??

    Ear buds. Cyclists wear them. Yesterday a woman on cap bike share was listening to an ipod and almost mowed down a pedestrian as she was turning (no slowing down for her, and forget a 'call out') onto Adams Mill from Columbia, and the pedestrian was crossing 18th.

    URBANETTE, Bob, Jellenp and Hogwash +1 each.

    by Jazzy on Jun 13, 2012 6:25 am • linkreport

    • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
    • Sidewalk: Ring a bell, On your left

    by Micael Healy on Jun 13, 2012 6:53 am • linkreport

      Educate all users of the recreational path to safety terms such as passing on your left so that each user knows how to react. As a bicyclist, i use the street because the recreational paths have become an accident about to happen...and it did! and the streets are another story

      by Mrs Amir on Jun 13, 2012 6:56 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

      by neutrino on Jun 13, 2012 7:07 am • linkreport

      On your left is often misunderstood by pedestrians or misinterpreted as it seems in this case. They often move left. As we learned (hopefully) in driving school it is the responsibility of the vehicle passing to ensure that it is safe to do so. That means we have to give proper spacing and speed so that a collision cannot happen in almost all circumstances. Most mixed use paths are meant for use by rookie riders. Cyclists should be using the roads whenever possible.

      by Michael Levengood on Jun 13, 2012 7:11 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

      by Cheryl on Jun 13, 2012 7:27 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

      I run on the mall daily, and my route takes me on Ohio drive behind Jefferson, where many bikes are on the sidewalk before they switch over to the 14th street bridge.

      Fewer than 10 per cent of cyclists signal their passing at all. Absurd on such a heavily pedestrian trafficked area.

      Either get in the road and take on the traffic, or slow down and give way to pedestrians. I say this as a cyclist and runner.

      by CBW on Jun 13, 2012 7:30 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, "passing on your left"
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, "passing on your left"

      by Robert Sherman on Jun 13, 2012 7:59 am • linkreport

      I am shocked at this headline. David: Do you think your grandmother or great grandmother would know what "on your left" means?!

      As my friends know, I am no fan of cyclists. I live east of the river and roll my eyes at those bike lanes in my neighborhood. Years ago I was knocked down crossing a NYC street by a cyclist going the wrong way on a one way street.

      Despite my issues with cyclists, I think there is lack of education all around. Drivers do not stay in their lanes, cyclists constantly plow through red lights, and on trails cyclists go faster that what one should given they are sharing the trail with walkers. If "on your left" were such a typical convention, shouldn't it be posted somewhere?

      I actually like the "move right" command. It might piss off people but it would work. As rock climbers know, when one yells "rock!" climbers do not look up (as it the natural reaction), rather, they move towards the wall and tuck down their head, mainly because this is one of the first lessons they are taught. Education and protocol (something many cyclists scoff at)is needed.

      In any case, what happened is tragic. I think the response from the cycling community should be remorse and reflection rather than casting blame and digging in heels.

      by mjfindc on Jun 13, 2012 8:24 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

      As you pass, say thank you.

      by Tom Robertson on Jun 13, 2012 8:27 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Bike back!
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Bike back!

      An ongoing struggle. No approach, or combination of approaches, works perfectly. I've had couples walking on MUPs simply exchange positions, continuing to completely block the path. I take the approach that I need to be able to stop completely unless it's clear that I have a safe path. When walking, I prefer to hear a bell and a call out of "bicycle" or "bike back".

      by Jim Lay on Jun 13, 2012 8:31 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down

      The last two paragraphs of this post sum it up perfectly: on a shared use trail, all users must be aware of the rules and abide by them. Perhaps we need more signage educating trail users?

      by Michael Eichler on Jun 13, 2012 8:44 am • linkreport

      Cyclists on either paths or sidewalks should treat pedestrians in exactly the same manner that they believe motorists should treat cyclists on streets and roads. If there is sufficient room, pass at least three feet to the left. If there is not sufficient room, slow down and follow at the pedestrian's speed until there is safe room to pass.

      by sgfranks on Jun 13, 2012 8:47 am • linkreport

      @mjfinddc

      Why should the cyclist be commanding pedestrians to get out of their way? The real value of "on your left" is that it might alert pedestrians not to move to the left, not to move them out of the way. If there's a pedestrian "in your way" you should slow down until you can pass safely.

      by Zac on Jun 13, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Ring a bell
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

      When biking, I usually ring my bell once from a long ways back, then every few seconds, so they hear me approaching. As I pass, I say, "I didn't want to surprise you" or "I hate scaring people" or similar words, amd may also wish them a "Happy Trails". Some just move over, some stop, some get completely off the trail - but they all seem to appreciate my words. Occasionally, someone wearing earphones does not respond, and then I slow all the way down and see if I can get past them safely.

      by Slackoff on Jun 13, 2012 9:08 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down

      by Jenny on Jun 13, 2012 9:09 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

      by Emma on Jun 13, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

      As some who bikes and runs, I think the biker was likely at fault here. The golden rule of mixed-use trails is that bikers always yield to pedestrians. Yield means that you must be defensive enough in your actions such that unplanned actions can be accomodated. That clearly didn't happen in this case. I'm not saying the biker should be criminally charged or sued, but the biker was playing it too risky in my opinion.

      by TC on Jun 13, 2012 9:32 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Stop if need be
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Stop if need be

      Stop if need be. It's that simple. No excuses.

      by OMri on Jun 13, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

      In any case, what happened is tragic. I think the response from the cycling community should be remorse and reflection rather than casting blame and digging in heels.

      First of all, there's no more a "cycling community" than there is a "driving community". Second, you'd make a stronger argument if you could actually give examples of "casting blame and digging in heels", whatever that means.

      by oboe on Jun 13, 2012 9:52 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

      When sharing corridors you need to keep in mind that even people who look able-bodied may have a mobility/balance problem. A sedate pace is needed when approaching pedestrians for a path that is shared by different sets of users. Even children and animals can dart out unexpectedly.

      by D on Jun 13, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, :"Passing on your left/right" and be ready to stop
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, see above

      The safest thing for cyclist travelling on path with pedestrians is to be ready to stop at all times. On a city side walk pedestrians can come from any where at any time. Slow down anticipating you may have to stop at any time. Pedestrians should yield right of way to avoid injury, but cyclists should always be prepared to stop when encountering pedestrians.

      by Myron Wickham on Jun 13, 2012 10:10 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, Avoid the sidewalk, jeez!

      I wish there was better overall cyclist education. Add headphones to the mix (on peds and bikes) and this gets even more dangerous. Also, chill out people! The MVT / FMR / CCT / MBT are not your Tour de France! In my opinion if you really have the need for speed, get on the road and ride out of town. Be safe and have fun out there everyone!

      by Sue on Jun 13, 2012 10:14 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Keep Right / Left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down

      This also seems like a reason to revisit the particulars of making biking on sidewalks legal. People bike on the sidewalk because they feel unsafe sharing the right of way with the faster moving and heaver cars on the street. Pedestrians have no other right away to move to when they feel unsafe sharing the right away with faster moving and heavier bikes on the sidewalk.

      by Mike on Jun 13, 2012 10:14 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Say: Passing on your left to avoid the confusion that the other two can bring
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Say: Passing on your left to avoid the confusion that the other two can bring

      by Michael Kulikowski on Jun 13, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Ring a bell
      • Sidewalk: , It's often more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk, so let's just avoid this altogether

      by ncc on Jun 13, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

      W&OD, Mt Vernon Trail, & Capital Crescent are not appropriate trails for loose children under 12. Especially when the parent/(kid + dog) ratio is less than 1. They're all over both sides of the trail & the parents could control them more easily on shorter trails with lower speeds.

      by Lisa Schaefer on Jun 13, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Passing on your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

      If you are biking on a sidewalk, it's your responsibility to avoid the pedestrians. So, shouting or ringing a bell should not be necessary. You have to stay out of THEIR way.

      by Peter Tatian on Jun 13, 2012 10:29 am • linkreport

      • Trail: On your left
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

      I hate cyclists ringing bells when passing me. It jars me more than someone yelling out "on your left." I am an active cyclist, jogger and walker so when I hear "on your left" or "passing left" i immediately move right. But a bell surprises me and does not tell me where the passing cyclist will be.

      by Ned on Jun 13, 2012 10:40 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
      • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

      Give warning well in advance. Many bicycles are too quiet to hear when they are approaching.

      A bicycle bell is recognizable and not usually mistaken for something else.

      Voice instructions are confusing, but if given, a pleasant, clear voice should be used. Commands are arrogant. Don't bark at me like a military sargent.

      by Mystix on Jun 13, 2012 10:42 am • linkreport

      • Trail: Slow down
      • Sidewalk: Slow down

      Multi-use trails suck. Pedestrians should be separated from bikes the same way bikes should be separated from cars. Having the two mix just diminishes the enjoyment (and obviously the safety) for both cyclists and pedestrians. The problem is we have a lot of these multi-use trails in American cities because planners don't give much thought to designing for anything other than cars. They're designed for recreation primarily (because what other use for a bike is there?) but they get used for transportation because the bike lane networks tend to be pathetic. So you get a lot of bike traffic on these things and often it's going faster than the typical Sunday stroll for which they were intended.

      We need better bike lane networks and sidewalks adjacent to these bike paths. Proper infrastructure can go a long way toward reducing human error.

      by Jesse on Jun 13, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

        After reading through many of the comments, I am surprised (and shocked) by how many "say nothing" responses there are. As a pedestrian, I would rather know there is a bicycle coming up behind me. I'd rather not be surprised as one wizzes by me.

        Bicycles are too quiet to hear. Make some noise!

        by Mystix on Jun 13, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

        Cyclists must give pedestrians enough space when they pass! Just ringing a bell or shouting something won't matter at all if the cyclist plans to pass within inches of the pedestrian.

        by Kristen on Jun 13, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, I'll pass on your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down

        I tried "on your left", and found that about one ped. in three would step to the left. So I changed to "I'll pass on your left, slow down, and get ready for something crazy.

        On sidewalks, I slow *way* down. Basically walking pace.

        by Tom Asbury on Jun 13, 2012 11:21 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Say nothing
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, say not shout: coming up on your ____. when on a sidewalk, move sidewalk speed around walkers. shouting comes off as rude and confusing and often not helpful.

        by Stephen Joseph on Jun 13, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

        by Chris Eatough on Jun 13, 2012 11:37 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

        It would be very helpful if cyclists who are riding together also yelled out the number of them passing you, e.g. "Passing left - two!" Since they come up behind you - you cannot see there may be more than one passing and as a pedestrian begin to move back a bit to the center part of your lane without realizing that there is another one or more yet to pass you.

        by NLM on Jun 13, 2012 11:42 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, "Coming on your left"
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, "Coming on your left"

        After realizing that pedestrians sometimes were startled by my bell I've discovered how to sound it a little more gently, and to do so from farther away. The sound is a bit more friendly, and the early warning is a precursor to my verbal call as I get closer. As long as they don't have earbuds stuck in their ears, this seems to work well 90% of the time.

        by SWC on Jun 13, 2012 11:51 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

        If I have a bell on the bike I'm using, I'll ring it. If I don't, I'll usually say something like, "passing on your left!" - I feel like the slightly longer phrase helps clarify things. However, I don't always say something if it seems like I have plenty of room and the pedestrian seems unlikely to move from their course. I also try to at least be prepared to slow or stop - especially around children and around intersections or popular turning points for runners.

        I also feel like where I ride - the W&OD - a lot of pedestrians (and some bikers) wear headphones, and I also see pedestrians using the wrong side (walking as if they're walking against car traffic on a street), which can be confusing. I don't know that anything can totally fix the issue, but posting some signs on trail etiquette might help.

        In terms of following trail etiquette - there are failures in all user groups, but I think bikers generally know it better since a lot of them use the trail regularly and at busier times of day, whereas many pedestrians use it less frequently and may not be familiar with what things like, "on your left!" mean.

        by Matt on Jun 13, 2012 11:52 am • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

        by Joe Noakes on Jun 13, 2012 12:06 pm • linkreport

        My biggest challenge as a cyclist are groups of pedestrians (often, but not exclusively, tourists) who walk 2, 3, or even 4 abreast, taking up the entire trail in one or both directions, and taking offense at any notification of intent to pass.

        That's a problem not just for cyclists but for joggers, too!

        When I biked, I also had serious issues with parents who let their children walk on their left. Seriously, folks, you should make sure you walk on your child's left and put them on the right-most side of the trail. That way they don't suddenly dart in front of someone bicycling.

        by lou on Jun 13, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

        I use the GW Parkway trail almost all the time. Saturdays and Sundays are particularly difficult because of walkers, riders (often in groups), and skaters. Parents use prams and strollers and often have children riding (too often w/o helmets) small bike with them. Bike-Share has increased traffic of mostly inexperienced / ill-equipped riders. Sometimes the trail approaches being a moving obstacle course.

        by Ron Hoekstra on Jun 13, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Smile Apologetically

        One thing that must be noted. Multi-use trails used to be called bicycle trails. Later, when the funding needed to be increased, the powers that be created the term "multi-use" to include other types. However, bicycles lost all right of way under the new designation. The legal wording of these trails includes strict liability for cyclists involved in collisions.
        This wouldn't be bad if there were also strict liability for cars on the roadways. If the roads were set up legally like multi-use paths in the U.S., drivers would necessarily have to be more careful because they would be ultimately liable in the even of collision, and that would make a better America.

        by Brad Hawkins on Jun 13, 2012 12:19 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Passing, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

        Sidewalks are for walking...Roads are for cycling, and it's where cyclists belong absent multi-purpose trails. Cyclists, you have a right to the road...stay as far right as practicable, ride single file (out of courtesy to not impede traffic...this is not necessarily a law in all jurisdictions), and take your lane where necessary.

        by Brian A Davenport on Jun 13, 2012 12:35 pm • linkreport

        Since she was hit head on, she was on the wrong side of the trail. Pedestrians need to treat the trails like roads: busy through fares where speed is involved, and not walk on the left.

        by DC on Jun 13, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Passing
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

        by Jack Love on Jun 13, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

        DC, you have your facts wrong. She was only hit "head on" because she turned around. She was not, reportedly, walking on the left.

        by David C on Jun 13, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down

        I'm from the UK so it is illegal to ride a bike on the footpath, although this is not strictly adhered to and does routinely go unpunished outside of the city. Cyclists in the UK are universally hated by all other road users including pedestrians and are treated with a certain amount of animosity most of the time, a call out or bell ring away from a recognised bike route is largely considered aggressive or (at best) impolite I would recommend to all who love cycling, and believe they deserve the same amount of respect they give others, to move to the continent! Having cycled the Netherlands last year (and next hopefully) designated cycle lanes run through most of the country including throughout major cities and you are treated with consideration and respect at all times, ringing your bell to warn pedestrians is the norm, also whilst on foot, as you are expecting to meet a lot of bikes, you are more vigilant.
        It is awful when you hear of such a tragic accident but it was just that 'an accident' chances are had he not made any warning she would not have moved into his path, but no warning is not an appropriate recommendation in response. We all need to be more careful in our actions and awareness of others whether on foot, cycle or driving but sadly there will still be genuine accidents.

        by Lisa on Jun 13, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Ring a bell

        This is why I avoid multi-use trails in favor of roads.

        by Steve on Jun 13, 2012 12:52 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: , Use good judgement
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

        Our bike paths can get quite crowded. I think they are just not good places for a stroll with the dog on a 20 foot leash. There are many jogging paths and sidewalks for people to stroll. It irritates me that people want to stroll on the bike paths. Joggers tend to be courteous and to the right (though sometimes they like to bunch up 3 abreast). Im sick of people just blindly walking in to the paths without even looking! I always slow down for little kids... but you wouldn't believe how many parents let their 5 year olds run around wildly on the bike paths 100 yards from their supervision. You dont let them play in the street do you? As a biker you get cars yelling at you to get off the road and on the paths everyone wants you to bike at 12mph. Where do we go?

        by scott on Jun 13, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

        "The worst offenders are the "Lance Armstrong wannabes", decked out in expensive attire, but lacking courtesy and a knowledge of the "rules of the path"."

        Always with the stereotypes. Of all the cyclists I know (many), maybe 0.1% are anything close to "Lance Armstrong wannabes." And "expensive attire" too: that's always a sign of someone who has an attitude problem, right?

        If we don't drop these laughable, trite stereotypes, no one will ever learn.

        by Jack Love on Jun 13, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Ring a bell, Say nothing
        • Sidewalk: Ring a bell, Say nothing

        by Avocadoinparadise on Jun 13, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

        On shared, multi-use trails, everyone needs to be aware of the environment. Even though a pedestrian is the most vulnerable, they need to be aware that cyclist use the trail as well. Activities like wearing headphones, texting,or talking on mobile phones while walking or riding are not conducive to the overall safety of those who use these trails. People need to smarten up.

        Bicyclists also need to be considerate when passing pedestrians as well as other cyclists. A ring of the bell well ahead of passing is smart, and minding how a pedestrian or other cyclist reacts before passing just take some common sense. Unfortunately...

        by Steve DeMont on Jun 13, 2012 1:08 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

        I enjoyed reading this. I think it is important for people to pay attention when walking and biking. When I take my bike on the C&O Canal or other places, I always slow down when approaching walkers, and shout "bike on your left" as I'm approaching the people. Sometimes the people move to the left, or dont move at all, usually because they are stupid or assholes, or both. Walkers and cyclists need to remember to treat these areas like a road. Stay on the right at all times, unless you are passing. It's not that hard. Hopefully printing the rules in the Post will help educate the public.

        by Mark on Jun 13, 2012 1:10 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

        by Juliet on Jun 13, 2012 1:11 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing, can I help you up?
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing, Can I call ambulance?

        Biker should anticipate risk and move away or stop before passing if their is any possibility of impact. I've seen two bikers collide on an empty Brooklyn Bridge trying to figure who would do what. There is no way of guessing what anyone will actually do when confronted with moving bike.

        by Tom Murphy on Jun 13, 2012 1:46 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Passing
        • Sidewalk: , the cyclist should be on the street.

        by Carl on Jun 13, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

        Please, please everyone slow down. If you are on a bike and you hit someone you are responsible. If you can't stop in time its your fault no matter what the pedestrian does. You have to have your bike under control at all times.

        by Chuck on Jun 13, 2012 2:28 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
        • Sidewalk: Slow down

        Everyone needs to be better educated about multi-use path etiquette. Many cyclists go *way* too fast on these paths, and many pedestrians and cyclists are totally clueless as to which side to use and how to interact with one another.

        Clearly posted signs, pavement markings, and rules of etiquette can go a long way to mitigate this kind of behavior. Sadly, too many park management entities stop at a strip of pavement or gravel and don't address signage or markings at all.

        by William Furr on Jun 13, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, Slow down sufficiently to be able to stop safely.
        • Sidewalk: , I object absolutely to cycling on sidewalks. It is too dangerous.

        We need to take action in several areas: signage, mandatory bicycle licensing, police enforcement with fines AND bicycling safety courses (that will relieve most or all of the fine), rumble strips on sidewalks to make it VERY unpleasant to ride bikes on them, and ideally having physically separate bikepaths and pedestrian paths. Also, if a cyclist hits a pedestrian from behind, I think that the cyclist should be considered at fault, just as with motor vehicle accidents.

        by Jerome on Jun 13, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: , Say "passing left"
        • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say "passing left"

        I bike on the W&OD frequently and see all sorts of dangerous behavior by both pedestrians and cyclists. I think a lot of it is ignorance of the trail safety rules (see http://www.wodfriends.org/safety.html). I wish the rules were posted at more of the major entrances to the trails, so that both pedestrians and cyclists new to the trail know how to safely share it (and so that they know what to expect). On the W&OD, cyclists are required to audibly warn when passing, and pedestrians are required to keep to the right on the trail. But there are only a couple of signs on the entire trail.

        I also wish that pedestrians knew that cyclists are vulnerable to them, too. Even if we're biking fairly slowly, we can easily get into a serious accident maneuvering to avoid a collision with a pedestrian who moves unexpectedly as we pass-- protecting the pedestrian, and protecting ourselves, is the reason we call out a warning.

        by carol on Jun 13, 2012 3:00 pm • linkreport

        • Trail: Say nothing
        • Sidewalk: Say nothing

        Safe cycling does not involve calling out to people or ringing a bell. It involves passing at a safe speed and with sufficient distance to avoid a collision even in the case of unexpected pedestrian movement. You can't blame the victim; pedestrians have right of way on trails. Constant bell-ringing and shouting does not increase safety, and ruins the peace of the trail for all users. Cyclists have to learn to ride responsibly, as this tragic case indicates.

        by renegade09 on Jun 13, 2012 3:35 pm • linkreport

          We need separate car, bike, and pedestrian paths the way the Europeans have done it - safer for all, and encourages biking

          by honey lindseybarr on Jun 13, 2012 3:39 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down
          • Sidewalk: Slow down

          by Fred on Jun 13, 2012 3:40 pm • linkreport

          We need separate car, bike, and pedestrian paths the way the Europeans have done it - safer for all, and encourages biking.

          Well, right, but that would involve not allocating 99.8% of all public space to the drivers of automobiles. All of these user conflicts grow out of that fundamental inequity.

          by oboe on Jun 13, 2012 3:43 pm • linkreport

          (Or 98.5% by funding, as Tina pointed out.)

          by oboe on Jun 13, 2012 3:45 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, "Excuse me! Passing from behind! Thank you!"
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing, "Excuse me! Passing from behind! Thank you!"

          I learned when I moved to Japan and had to do this in another language that calling out "on your left" is not only useless but impolite. I tried several things and finally came up with just plain manners. In Japanese I would call out, "Excuse me! Coming from behind!" and as I passed I would call "Thank you!" And of all the remarkable discoveries, it turns out that this works best virtually everywhere I ride, regardless of region, language, or culture. Bells, whistles, shouting for people to clear the way for you as if you have more right than they do is very rude, and you will either be ignored--forcing you to work your way around them somehow--or cause an angry reaction. Manners and politeness are the absolutely most effective way to not only share a path between bicycles and pedestrians, but even the best way to drive down the highway. Just be considerate! It works!

          by John Thiel on Jun 13, 2012 3:50 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

          Patience and courtesy by everyone need to be the watchwords.

          by amy smolens on Jun 13, 2012 4:02 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me

          by Ritch Viola on Jun 13, 2012 4:04 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing on your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing on your left

          by Karen on Jun 13, 2012 4:13 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

          by K Duerksen on Jun 13, 2012 4:19 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

          Even though I live close by, I do not walk on the Four Mile Run Trail for precisely this reason. It is too crowded and bikers go way too fast. I walk my dog along the trail sometimes but on the grass beside it. Usually I walk up in my neighborhood on the sidewalk and in the parks. It is just more relaxing than having someone whizzing past me ringing bells and shouting at me. On the bike trail, I would be worried about someone coming too close and hitting my dog. Frankly, I am surprised we don't see more incidents like this. Some people seem to want to treat the trail as if it is their own personal Tour de France. My heart goes out to the family of this woman.

          by sha on Jun 13, 2012 4:20 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, say "on your left" in a conversational voice so as not to startle them when you ride by, not to alert them
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, dismount if there is not wide clearance, else ride standing on one pedal so you can quickly stop.

          In general, as a cyclist you don't want the pedestrian to do anything different. You don't want them to have to stop, slow down, or change direction. So your job as a cyclist is to approach slowly, avoid them and their path, and try to avoid startling them by making a "rustle", whether squeaky brakes, gear shifting, chain rattle, or I prefer to say "on your left" in a normal conversational tone so they don't jump or react with a start. And be prepared to slow down, swerve away, or dismount as needed.

          by Ward 1 Guy on Jun 13, 2012 4:22 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left

          Always be prepared to slow to the speed of the pedestrian.

          by guy on Jun 13, 2012 4:27 pm • linkreport

          The comments at ArlNow seem to be closed (it was getting nasty) but I just wanted to point out that the article stated that the trail is 8 feet wide at that point. Some people on ArlNow seem to think that's HUGE and is pleanty of space, but it's clear that they don't use these paths. That's really narrow. 8 is the minimum period while "under most conditions, the recommended minimum width for a two-direction path designed for bicyclists and pedestrians is ten feet. However, when heavy traffic is expected, a path width of 12 to 14 feet is preferred".

          http://guide.saferoutesinfo.org/engineering/paths.cfm

          Just had to say. I don't know if anyone here is playing the point and blame game and I hope they're not. It's sad this happened, period. I'm also not trying to take the blame and put it on the path or the county or engineers, I just wanted to be clear that 8 feet isn't exactly the huge amount of room it seems some people think it is.

          Now, in general terms, not specifically related to this incident....in terms of "on your left", I don't use it because I think it confuses people. I say "excuse me" or "passing" if I don't get a nod or hand wave after ringing my bell.

          To the people who think that ringing and calling are rude and aggressive...I don't know what to say. Sorry? I guess? I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm a pretty nice person. A pretty nice person you'd probably like to know is approaching you from behind, on something heavy, faster than you are walking. Just like when I "take the lane" and the drivers think I'm the world's biggest donkeyhead and I don't feel a lick bad about it (particularly not when I'm on a one-way street with two lanes and one of them, the one I'm "taking" has giant sharrows all over it and I happen to live on that street that the drivers are passing through at 10+mph over the speed limit).

          I guess I take the stance that if you can see/hear me well enough to hate my guts.....you can see/hear me enough to avoid a deadly accident and we're all happier for that. So that's something, I guess.

          by Catherine on Jun 13, 2012 4:41 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, "I'd like to pass on your right/left, please"

          Something I learned in Miami, and is equally applicable here with the volume of tourists in the district...not everybody speaks English, but 99.9% of people know that "bring bring" of a bicycle bell.

          I avoid the sidewalk as much as I possibly can, and I figure that when I do ride on the sidewalk, I'm the one who should defer. I thank those who make way for me. When I'm a pedestrian (or being overtaken by faster bicyclists when I'm riding for that matter), I want to hear the bell or warning so that I know that they are there.

          by Erin Mullen on Jun 13, 2012 4:41 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: On your left
          • Sidewalk: , cyclists over 10 years of age belong on the street !

          Pedestrians on a multi-use trail need to walk on the right - and that should be marked.

          by Steve Yaffe on Jun 13, 2012 4:43 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing, just stop until it's clear without saying anything -- it's their sidewalk

          I don't ride this MUP, but I think it helps pedestrians remember that there are faster moving joggers and cyclists on trail when a yellow line is painted down the middle. Most MUPs in Maryland that I ride don't have a painted line, but I wish they did.

          by Greenbelt on Jun 13, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, and if none of that works, then stop and get off bike!
          • Sidewalk: , cyclists should NEVER use sidewalks.

          In every single circumstance, within reason, pedestrians should have the right of way and take precedence over anyone operating any sort of vehicle. To me, bikes are no different than cars or motorcycles. End of story.

          by LuvDusty on Jun 13, 2012 4:59 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          by Jason on Jun 13, 2012 5:21 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing, Pedestrians are the primary users. Never go so fast that you can't give pedestrians a wide berth.

          I think there's an analogy here to the problem of silent hybrid and electric cars (there's no good standard solution to that problem yet, either). If a vehicle has the potential to suddenly surprise a pedestrian, it's inherently dangerous.

          I was surprised by how many people posted comments indicating they thought bells were rude. If you're ringing the bell only moments before overtaking someone, sure, it can be rude. But the soft tinkling of a bell from well before overtaking is a lot like the artificial whirring noises and engine noises being added to silent cars. It announces the presence of a larger, faster vehicle in a way that people will immediately understand, and it will make it less likely that you'll surprise someone.

          Any sort of wheeled vehicle is responsible for keeping its speed down to a level where it's fully in control and can stop in reaction to anything a non-jaywalking pedestrian/runner/child might do. Yes, that includes Crazy Ivans.

          And cyclists are guests on sidewalks and should act accordingly.

          by c5karl on Jun 13, 2012 5:44 pm • linkreport

          I know this is controversial, but my approach to staying safe as a pedestrian on a mixed-use trail is to stay as far LEFT as possible. I was always taught that when there is no sidewalk, you should walk facing oncoming traffic. Trails are just like roads, complete with speeding traffic, and there's no sidewalk! I get insulted and cursed at every time by cyclists on their time trials- sorry guys, but I feel much safer when I can see what's coming at me and safety is the #1 priority.

          by renegade09 on Jun 13, 2012 5:54 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

          by Jim on Jun 13, 2012 6:12 pm • linkreport

          I'm both a cyclist, predominantly on sidewalks/streets, and a pedestrian.
          I think the best way to alert pedestrians is to ring a bell well in advance to give pedestrians a sense of your speed, location, and direction. When I bike I also pay close attention to pedestrian's ears: earplugs? bluetooth?
          In my experience as a pedestrian, shouting "on your left" is not particularly helpful. When a biker shouts it he/she is already right behind my back. It's a normal first reaction to turn around to face the person talking to you, expecially when you don't expect anyone to be right behind your back. Usually it just startles me. i have to constraint myself not to move.
          Finally, a couple of words about the story and some of the comments. First of all, as far as pedestrian safety is concerned, it seems to me that biking is a very safe mode of transporattion. We are talking about one unfortunate incident in a year or perhaps more. How many pedestrian fatalities occurred in a comparable time period from incidents involving cars? trip-and-fall's? other everyday mishaps?
          Second, as bikes become more ubiquitos and socially acceptable, both bikers and pedestrians are going to develop the appropriate etiquette and expectations. Perhaps bell ringing won't be considered as negative as some comments suggest.
          Third, certainly the difference in speed is a factor in this incident, but it is unrealistic to request bikes to ride as slow as pedestrians walk. There's no point in biking in this case! I think there's enough room on the road for both bikes and pedestrians provided we have some normal common sense and understanding of each others limitations and expectations.

          by M_NoVa on Jun 13, 2012 6:18 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me!

          Four years ago responding to persistent conflict complaints on our shared-use paths, walk & bike Arlington collaborated on developing what became our "sharing the way" campaign. One of Sharing the Way's recommendations is for cyclists to use a bell when passing pedestrians and to use verbal warnings only when necessary. As an advocate for both cyclist and pedestrian needs, I still believe this is the easiest, most respectful and intuitive way to accomplish the goal of mutual awareness on our regions trails.

          by David Goodman on Jun 13, 2012 6:20 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Pardon me, coming round your left (or right)

          The main bike commute routes in many cities or towns are on multi-use trails, and it's unlikely that commuters (true of both drivers and cyclists) are going to slow to a crawl every time they near a slower user, especially if that's every 30 seconds or so. We have to recognize this, and design safe ways for cyclists, peds, and drivers to all get from point A to point B safely. Sometimes this means lots of good signage (warning to peds, telling cyclists to yield), and sometimes it means that multi-use trails should be separated, such as on hills, where bicycles will be moving much faster than peds.

          by Michelle on Jun 13, 2012 6:54 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          Like to see more "rules of the trail" signs posted. Wish pedestrians & bikers could be brought to speed on trail etiquette.

          by Carl Newman on Jun 13, 2012 6:55 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          I have been verbally swore at & YELLED at two different times by cylers biking so fast that I had no time to even REACT while I was walking on sidewalks ! Most bikers I have ever seen have an arrogant entitlement attitude !

          by Kat on Jun 13, 2012 6:56 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Passing, Sing continuosly while approaching
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me... Thank you

          Cyclists should always leave three feet passing clearance, and go no faster than a runner if there are any pedestrians on the sidewalk.

          by Jim Titus on Jun 13, 2012 8:56 pm • linkreport

          renegade09, you're doing it wrong. Get on the right hand side.

          Michelle's comment brings up something. In your comment, replace all the cyclist references with driver ones and then the pedestrian ones with cyclist ones. If you don't like what you're reading then perhaps you should rethink it. For example:

          "The main car commute routes in many cities or towns are on roads, and it's unlikely that commuters (true of both drivers and cyclists) are going to slow to a crawl every time they near a slower user, especially if that's every 30 seconds or so."

          by David C on Jun 13, 2012 9:40 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down
          • Sidewalk: Slow down

          No, calling "on your left" doesn't work. Sometimes it just startles the pedestrian into turning around and stepping in front of the bicyclist. To start, often what the cyclist says in not even comprehensible. Secondly, the cyclist is moving with speed and force. The cylclist has to realize the danger these qualities pose to pedestrians. Slow down.

          by Edith Walker on Jun 13, 2012 10:24 pm • linkreport

          Just slow down around pedestrians. You'd like the same from cars. If you're the bigger one, the onus is on you.

          by Thayer-D on Jun 14, 2012 7:06 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing, "passing left"
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, "passing left, please"

          On sidewalks, I defer to pedestrians and expect to pass at a walking speed, and to stop & wait sometimes (just like pedestrians do). On a mixed use trail, pedestrians really need to be less sensitive, less selfish, and more aware of how to safely and politely share the space - which is wider than a suburban sidewalk specifically to allow mixed use and for travelers of all types and speeds to pass.

          by Jason Haynes on Jun 14, 2012 9:10 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell

          by Mark Fleming on Jun 14, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, Slow W-A-Y down; with the wind blowing the wrong direction, in a conversation, earbuds, etcc. the pedestrian may not hear you at all or realize that you are trying to alert them. I think it helps if pedestrians walk facing bike traffic, the way we were taught to walk on streets without sidewalks--so we can see someone approaching us. Coming from behind is PROBLEMATIC no matter how you try to alert a pedestrian. So slow WAY down to be sure you know what the pedestrian is likely to do.

          by Marian Forte on Jun 14, 2012 9:32 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Need to say more than just a word or two. "I'm on a bike and I'm passing you on your left"
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Need to say more than just a word or two. "I'm on a bike and I'm passing you on your left"

          When cyclists shout "on your left", it takes me a second or two to recognize what is happening, and all of a sudden the bike is upon you. I would bet that this is exactly what happened to the elderly woman who was killed. Most cyclists don't give enough advance warning. Also, keep in mind that if someone doesn't regularly walk where bikes are present, they aren't going to anticipate situations like this.

          by Nora on Jun 14, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
          • Sidewalk: Slow down

          by Kevin Beekman on Jun 14, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          Just this week, bicycle commuting home to NW DC from Ballston I got yelled at twice by pedestrians. The first yelled at me for "not calling my pass" when I passed her on a clear and very visible stretch. The second yelled, (after I had signaled my pass with my bell) "I don't have get out of your way, YOU have to get out of my way! You shouldn't even be here! etc". The first was on the Custis Trail the second on a paved path in a small park. I am relatively new to bike commuting and am finding it pretty hostile on all fronts. I get yelled at by cars, peds, and other cyclists pretty much at least once a ride. I thought the bell was an alert and a courtesy, but since there appear to be no standards every one has their own interpretation of it.

          by biciplata on Jun 14, 2012 10:07 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          "On your left" works on shared trails with joggers etc. But a bell is better on the sidewalk. If it's a high use sidewalk, even though I have the "right" to be on it, I generally opt for riding in the road. Connecticut Ave is a great example. The sidewalks are always densely packed and, although Conn Ave has no shoulder and no bike lane, I prefer to ride on the road.

          by mishamishap on Jun 14, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

          @biciplata
          Just some tips for you as a new rider:
          1. Make sure you signal (ring your bell) when you are several seconds behind the person walking. That's 50 feet or more behind them. Usually I find people react negatively if you signal when you are too close. You have to give the person time to go through the thought process of "oh a bell," "oh a bike is coming," "oh they are going to pass me."

          2. I would just make it a habit of always ringing your bell, even if it is clear. A quick 'ding' or 'ding ding' is all that's needed; you're just letting the person know you are there.

          3. Make sure you are giving the person enough space (3+ feet) AND regulating your speed for the amount of space you are giving them. On a wide trail, move as far to the left as you can while passing. On a smaller path in a park, you should slow down a lot if you can't give the person 3 feet, go around them slowly, and thank them as you go by.

          There are always going to be some people out there who react negatively, but I find that the vast majority of people do not react negatively, unless you're doing something wrong (probably signaling too late).

          by MLD on Jun 14, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Passing
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Passing

          Cars should not run over bicycles. Bicycles should not run over walkers. It is the bicyclists responsibility to ensure the safety of pedestrians in ANY circumstance just as it is the cars responsibility to protect bicyclists in ANY circumstance. IE, the most vulnerable always has the right of way regardless of the law, traffic light or your inclination.

          by Keith Bennett on Jun 14, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me

          Signage promoting good behavior in congested areas is a good idea (eg. walk and bike in single file).

          I think the appropriateness of speed limits should also depend on the availability of alternatives --- is there a bikeable road nearby? (In Rock Creek, for instance, the cars will usually go crazy(er) if you don't bike on the path).

          DC requires a bell on bikes. Seems sensible.

          by John on Jun 14, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

          by SJE on Jun 14, 2012 1:08 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, If without a bell, it is critical that a bicyclist slow down. When I don't have a bell I slow down and wait until I'm close enough to say hello, I'm going to pass you on such and such a side.
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          by Paul Mitchell on Jun 14, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, behind you!
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, behind you!

          Please also instruct children and teens, one of whom almost creamed me flying down a steep hill and around a blind corner straight at me with no warning. It could have been bad for both of us if I hadn't seen him in time to leap out of the way, pulling my dog with me.

          by Cynthia on Jun 14, 2012 1:26 pm • linkreport

          Slow down, Say Nothing

          When I'm jogging along the trail I'm constantly startled by "On Your Left" and bells. For some reason my kneejerk reaction is to turn into the trail. I'm not listening to the words. It doesn't matter if I've got headphones on or not--I'm usually in my own world. My reaction is someone's yelling.

          by Lisa on Jun 14, 2012 1:33 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell, Excuse me
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Excuse me

          by Rebecca on Jun 14, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

          Usually I walk up in my neighborhood on the sidewalk and in the parks. It is just more relaxing than having someone whizzing past me ringing bells and shouting at me. On the bike trail, I would be worried about someone coming too close and hitting my dog. Frankly, I am surprised we don't see more incidents like this.

          This raises an interesting point. I don't understand why anyone would use these MUTs for pleasure (i.e. non-transportation) walking, teaching your toddler to ride a trike, dog-walking, or whatever. It's the equivalent of going rollerblading on Georgia Ave during rush hour.

          Cyclists should always be on the hook for avoiding pedestrians, but I just can't fathom someone using, say, the Custis trail for a pleasant stroll with doggie when there's any alternative whatsoever available.

          Some people seem to want to treat the trail as if it is their own personal Tour de France.

          A far larger number of people treat the major MUTs in the area as though they're the non-motorized equivalent of I-66. That's because they are.

          by oboe on Jun 14, 2012 2:27 pm • linkreport

          oboe, when I was training for Marathons I preferred the trails because there were less intersections. I didn't have to stop a lot or break up my rhythm. So that's one reason. Plus, the trails are often just nice. They're nice to be on.

          by David C on Jun 14, 2012 2:37 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

          by MtPDC on Jun 14, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

          "This raises an interesting point. I don't understand why anyone would use these MUTs for pleasure (i.e. non-transportation) walking, teaching your toddler to ride a trike, dog-walking, or whatever. It's the equivalent of going rollerblading on Georgia Ave during rush hour."

          1. in many suburbs there are few good places to walk - large residential areas have no sidewalks and frighteningly deserted, commercial areas are driveway ridden hells, etc

          2. MUTs come in many flavors - I can't imagine walking on Custis. Its easy to imagine walking on MVT. W&OD varies - there are some nice spots for walking, though it tends to have too litle shade, and lots of speedy cyclists. 4MR norhwest of Shirlington is through woodsy parks and is a pretty nice walk - 4MR EAST of shirlington is about as bad as Custis. Cross County Trail in Fairfax is more of a recreational/nature trail, suited for walking and for recreational biking, but not really used by transport cyclists (though with the terrible streets, I imagine some do use it)

          Thats for NoVa which I know better.

          by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 14, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

          Well, also for the 4MR east of Shirlington you have the Wayne Anderson on the Alex side of the creek for a good chunk of the way, and where I see a lot more 'casual' use.

          by Kolohe on Jun 14, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

          We ALL have to be present and aware of our surroundings... cars, bikes, and walkers.

          Calling/ringing doesn't work if the walker is behaving like a zombie with ear-buds meandering aimlessly while texting their BFFs. Groups of walkers taking up the entire trail with dogs on long leases and double-wide baby carriages does not help either. Given these insurmountable issues, the best option for me is to leave the trails to the zombies and join the cars on the roads (hopefully the car drivers aren't texting too!).

          by Dave on Jun 14, 2012 3:04 pm • linkreport

          @Lisa -on an MUT you're not "in your own world". Its a shared world and your lack of attention is going to get someone hurt. If you know your reaction is to turn into the trail then be mindful enough to NOT do that, at the very least.

          by Tina on Jun 14, 2012 3:58 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
          • Sidewalk: Slow down

          I treat pedestrians like I want to be treated by cars. Slow down, leave plenty of room, and don't maneuver in such a way that will startle them (i.e. cutting back in front quickly). Whenever I call out, they end up doing the opposite of whatever they should do. Basically, I assume all responsibility for the safe pass and, if I do need someone to shift to the side, then I do communicate, but only after I've slowed way down and leave time to react to their reaction.

          by Eric B on Jun 14, 2012 4:44 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down
          • Sidewalk: Slow down

          What part of multi-use did I miss? It's not a bike trail; it also has pedestrians. A sidewalk was made for pedestrians. Cyclists should ALWAYS give way.

          by Joe on Jun 14, 2012 6:21 pm • linkreport

          Bike bells do NOT work: You can't tell if it's a bike in front of you or behind you. Or how far away it is or how fast it is going. I prefer a voice warning, so I give them when biking.

          Riding too fast on bikes IS the problem.

          by Capt. Hilts on Jun 14, 2012 8:17 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

          by Amber on Jun 14, 2012 8:21 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, On your left
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

          I commuted by bike to Capitol Hill from Bethesda for two years. I was horrified at how rude cyclists were to pedestrians. Squeezing between groups of pedestrians going opposite directions was the worst I regularly saw. I would slow down and call slowly: Coming up on your left. I would say it slowly so as not to alarm.

          As a daily jogger on the CCT I found that bells are so short in tone I could not tell if the sound came from a bike in front of me or behind me. I much preferred hearing voice warnings.

          by Capt Hilts on Jun 14, 2012 8:23 pm • linkreport

          And pedestrians need to be more careful about wearing headphones and talking on telephones.

          by Capt. Hilts on Jun 14, 2012 8:25 pm • linkreport

          I agree that just shouting "on your left" can be confusing and can actually cause the pedestrian to drift into the path of the oncoming bike.

          I've noticed a similar problem when I'm biking - if I turn my head to the left to check to my rear, I tend to drift to the left and possibly into the path of a faster biker who is overtaking me. For this reason, I always look to the right when I'm checking to my rear.

          by Frank IBC on Jun 14, 2012 9:40 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Ring a bell
          • Sidewalk: Ring a bell

          Pedestrians behave very unpredictably in response to signals. On the Wilson Bridge path, most of the pedestrians walk in the middle or the left. If we state a few rules on ubiquitous signs, we would be much safer:
          keep right, pass left.
          give bell signal when passing.
          slow when passing.
          bicycles yield to pedestrians.
          slower traffic keep right

          I bias my answer in favor of a bell, only because the bell is required in at least one jurisdiction where I regularly ride. If a sign said "yell 'purple dinosaur' when passing" then I would do it.

          I was a longtime runner on the W&OD before I became a cyclist. Only after I got on the bike did I learn that moving left is my worst course of action when someone is approaching from behind. I could have easily been the pedestrian that jumped right into a cyclist's path.

          That said, I had a sense that "slower traffic, keep right" should govern the situation.

          Cyclists should always be alert for unpredictable pedestrians. But like one of the Hobbits says, it's dangerous business stepping out your front door. I don't think you can charge a cyclist every time a pedestrian turns into their path at the last second.

          by Michael on Jun 14, 2012 10:59 pm • linkreport

          • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
          • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

          Any warning is startling and therefore intimidating. If you are the one passing, you should do it as slow as necessary not to cause a collision. This includes stopping completely if need be. You expect this behavior from drivers and pedestrians should expect no less from you. The pedestrian has the right of way, period.

          by Anon Ymous on Jun 14, 2012 11:44 pm • linkreport

            I don't see many walkers when I ride, and I use a bell several times as I approach. Sometimes I call out, "Another dang fool bicyclist coming behind you!" It takes a couple of extra seconds, but I think it's friendlier.

            by Slackoff on Jun 15, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, On your left, "Passing on Left" as is consistent with motorized transportation in US
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left, "Passing on Left" as is consistent with motorized transportation in US

            by Nathan on Jun 15, 2012 9:10 am • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing, On your left, bike passing left
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, bike passing

            As a impaired hearing person I've had biker pass me saying didn't you hear my bell I'd tell them no that audible voice is better for me so remember everyone hear differently on sound I've agree pedestrians are first

            by Brad Stowell on Jun 15, 2012 9:40 am • linkreport

            • Trail: On your left
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

            Most people treat the trails like a transit network, and these people (pedestrians and cyclists) are good about obeying the rules of the road. However, it becomes dangerous when people start treating the trails as a park (think, trails at 8am on Tuesdays versus 2pm Saturdays). Trails are effectively roadways and people need to remember that.

            by M on Jun 15, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

            • Trail: , Get the hell off the trail
            • Sidewalk: , Get the hell off the sidewalk

            Walkers and joggers should do this in their backyards or on their treadmills. Trails and sidewalks are meant for bikers.

            by The kinder gentler biker on Jun 15, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

            I have commuted by bike for years and have maintained in all that time "on your left" is a political position not a warning. First, if you are close enough that a person can hear it it is too late to really do anything. Second, a voice is just one of many voices on the trail. A bell or whistle is much better that calling on your left. I regularly get thankyous from walkers when I use my bell. I save my whistle for Saturdays when the crazies are on the trail.

            by Kim on Jun 15, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
            • Sidewalk: Slow down

            by Harlan on Jun 15, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Defer to pedestrian

            by Tyler on Jun 15, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell

            I jump when I am on a sidewalk and someone rings a bell... it IS just as annoying to walkers as a car horn is to cyclists, esp. when the cyclists then passes you without slowing down (heeelllllooo 16th Street sidewalk cyclists).

            All in all, slow down. And the right of way stays with the smaller entity, always.

            by gtsix on Jun 15, 2012 3:49 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Passing, passing on your left
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, passing on your left

            by Linda on Jun 15, 2012 6:09 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Ring a bell, Passing
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing

            by Jason on Jun 16, 2012 9:01 am • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down
            • Sidewalk: Slow down

            Bikes should stay off the sidewalks.

            by Z on Jun 16, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

            • Trail: On your left

            Pedestrians need to be educated on what to do when a cyclist calls out "on your left". I have seen people who just didn't know what to do. I have also, seen people who get mad at cyclist for calling out.

            by Kamita on Jun 16, 2012 12:31 pm • linkreport

            I think "excuse me" is a good preface on the sidewalk. That's how one pedestrian walking behind another would address the person in front.

            Basically, people walking on a sidewalk are aware of what's ahead of them, but not what's behind them. And, these days, just hearing someone behind you saying something, doesn't mean you assume they're talking to you. In the "on the left" scenario, by the time the pedestrian realizes s/he is the audience for the remark and/or senses a cyclist rapidly approaching, what s/he hears most clearly is "left!" Not surprising said pedestrian might then move in that direction.

            As my mother used to say when she looked up, mid-story and realized on of us kids was talking to her, "FIRST, you get my attention..."

            by walker on Jun 16, 2012 12:40 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left, Coming up on your left
            • Sidewalk: Slow down

            Probably should have some standards for pedestrians and bicyclist interaction. Anyone wearing headsets on shared use trails should carry responsibility/liability for accidents. Maybe that practice should be banned.

            by Ted on Jun 16, 2012 2:06 pm • linkreport

            How does one pass a blind person or what if a person is deaf

            by kk on Jun 16, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Ring a bell
            • Sidewalk: Slow down

            by Steve O on Jun 16, 2012 2:54 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Ring a bell, On your left
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left

            Mixed use trails are difficult. We always hear about Cyclists going too fast and in some cases that is true, but pedestrians and runners should be alert and predictable- there are other people using the trail. I use a bell, but sometimes people don't pay attention to either a bell or calling out.
            Yesterday, a runner pulled a u turn just in front of me on the CCT and then an older man walked right across the street in front of me without looking.

            by Hugh Howard on Jun 16, 2012 7:31 pm • linkreport

            • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Say nothing
            • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

            I agree with the poster--the cyclist has to be more careful with the pedestrian. I would also add that anyone coming up behind anyone else (pedestrian, vehicle, skateboarder, etc.) is responsible for making sure passing is safe.

            by Rosepetals64 on Jun 16, 2012 9:14 pm • linkreport

              When I ran the Marin Corps several years ago and the paraplegic cyclists came through, I couldn't help notice that ALL the military folks would scream "move right!" and all the non-military runner/cyclist types would say "on your left!". On your left eventually won out, but it became confusing either way. As far as a warning, it depends what you're used to.

              Regardless, you have to slow down some on a mixed trail - especially with the elderly or more importantly little kids. I hit a 3 year old once on my bike on the Fairfax CCT once, but only going about 1 MPH. I slowed down to a crawl, said "passing by, excuse me "to pass the little boy and his sister, and at the last sec he darted right in front of me. I knocked him down and fortunately all he did was tumble gently. Crying ensued, I felt terrible, and his mom assured me it was not my fault. I shudder to think if I hadn't slowed down to practically nothing.

              by stevek_formally Fairfax on Jun 16, 2012 11:29 pm • linkreport

              • Trail: Ring a bell
              • Sidewalk: Slow down

              Because trails are neither sidewalks nor roads,cyclists and pedestrians need to be especially aware of each other on the trail. Given my experience they can do this by following some common sense rules. Pedestrians need to ALWAYS walk on the right side of the trail. Pedestrians wishing to face the traffic by walking on the left should do so off of the trail. Pedestrians and cyclists need to move off of the trail when they are not moving on the trail. While it is the responsibility of the cyclist to give a warning of his or her choice when approaching a pedestrian from behind, it is the responsibility of the pedestrian to expect such warnings and respond by moving away from the middle of the trail. Just as cyclists should never ride two abreast on a trail, pedestrians walking two abreast should respond to a warning by moving away from the middle of the trail. Neither a pair of cyclists nor a pair of pedestrians should act as of they they have the right to one half of the trail.

              by Albert Reed on Jun 17, 2012 8:16 am • linkreport

              • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, Passing
              • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing, Must defer

              by Carmen on Jun 17, 2012 8:26 am • linkreport

              • Trail: Slow down, Say nothing
              • Sidewalk: Slow down, Say nothing

              The best is when bicyclists ring a bell periodically so you can hear them approaching and discern where they are relative to you - not only right or left but also how fast they're going. Shouting "on" or "to" my "left" is no help because I'm startled by the shout and I don't know left from right until I have time to think about it.

              by Turnip on Jun 17, 2012 5:56 pm • linkreport

              • Trail: Slow down, Ring a bell, On your left
              • Sidewalk: Slow down, On your left

              by Allan Reiter on Jun 17, 2012 7:39 pm • linkreport

              I think the problem was less what the cyclist said and more that it was an 81 year old woman attempting to hear and process the information. Even a healthy elderly person can still have massive hearing issues. Far be it for me to try to instill age restrictions on multi-use trails, but I certainly wouldn't let my 4 year old son on them even if I taught him intravenously the rules of bikes and pedestrians.

              by Val Drooger on Jun 18, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

              • Trail: Slow down, Excuse me
              • Sidewalk: Slow down, Excuse me

              "On your left" is the worst. It just makes people turn around and look to their left.

              Regardless, no matter what you say, be going slow enough to make an adjustment in case the pedestrian steps in your way at the last second.

              by Dan on Jun 18, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport

              so this weekend I was biking on Columbia Pike (in FFX and was biking in a service lane, and there was a woman with a stroller pushing it IN THE SERVICE LANE (despite a sidewalk a few feet away) granted there was no automotive traffic in the lane at the time.

              Whats the etiquette in that situation?

              by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 18, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

              To non-bike riders, "To the left" immediately sounds like "move to the left," and immediately is usually all you've got. The driver who hit the 80-year-old woman should have slowed down when approaching her and, if necessary, stopped. That he didn't do either means he should be tried for murder, in my book.

              by Sharon on Jun 19, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

              As a bicycle commuter and daily runner on the CCT, I think ALL cyclists should always slow down when passing pedestrians from behind. I always did so. It doesn't matter whether you use a bell or voice or what. You should slow down.

              I saw a young woman go through four white-haired older women as if they were duckpins. That's not acceptable.

              by Capt. Hilts on Jun 19, 2012 10:41 am • linkreport

              [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

              Murder [deleted] is the *intentional* killing of another person.

              Negligent homocide at most, but there's that pesky contributory negligence law that keeps most pedestrians and cyclists who are hit or killed by drivers from getting any sort of justice (I think the one time in recent memory someone's gotten in any sort of trouble for killing a pedestrian was drunk in the middle of the day on a Sunday while driving on a suspended liscence while in the country illegally and he hit and killed a child who was walking with an adult in a crosswalk that had flashing lights. So....it takes a LOT, and that's not right).

              [Deleted for violating the comment policy.] The confusion surrounding "on your left" is exactly what people are talking about. Basically, it boils down to this: regular trail users know what it means. Newbies/casual users do not. It is legally required to give audible warning when passing on trails. Aka, it is not optional. So no matter what, if you think bells are aggressive, or calls of "passing" or "on the left" are rude or confusing....sorry. Those are the rules of the road.

              Now, if you'd like to make a constructive suggestion on how to the legally required audible warning feel less aggressive sounding, or less confusing for non-regular trail users, that would be great. But calling for someone's head in what was clearly an accident (a potentially avoidable accident, yes), isn't helping anyone.

              by Catherine on Jun 19, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

              I am surprised no one has suggested calling out "Bicycle on your left" or "Bicycle passing on your left". This would eliminate a lot of the confusion that can be generated by "on your left".

              by pedestrian on Jun 19, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

              "I am surprised no one has suggested calling out "Bicycle on your left" or "Bicycle passing on your left". This would eliminate a lot of the confusion that can be generated by "on your left".

              I did. In fact, if I was riding with a friend, I'd say "Two bikes coming up on your left."

              As a jogger on the trail, to me, anything is better than a bell.

              Now that so many have headphones on, that might change things.

              by Capt. Hilts on Jun 19, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

              What's so wrong with a bell? When I'm riding, I find it infinately less disturbing to hear a bell than a sudden voice. In fact, when I was a new trail user, my initial reaction to calls of "on your left" was that it feels rude and demanding (but I quickly got used to it as "that's just the rules of the road, and I'm not sure how other trail users can't seem to do the same), but a bell is a polite "hey, I'm behind you and about to pass".

              by Catherine on Jun 19, 2012 11:09 am • linkreport

              Sharon, I was right with you until we got to the "murder" part. Murder involves intent, for starters.

              I do think part of the problem was the use of "to your left" which is not what I normally here, not standard American English - who says "I'm passing to your left?" - and can be interpreted two ways - "I'm passing on your left" and "move to your left".

              by David C on Jun 19, 2012 11:09 am • linkreport

              The problem with bells is that a short burst from a bell is not much affected by the Doppler effect. So, you can't tell how near or far the cyclist is and, more importantly, if the trail is crowded you can't tell if it's from a bike ahead or behind.

              Cyclists slowing down when overtaking passengers is the answer to all of these issues.

              by Capt. Hilts on Jun 19, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

              I strongly disagree that only slowing down is the answer to these issues. You need to know, as a jogger or cyclist, if there is someone behind you and if they are planning on passing you. I have had FAR too may close calls on my bike with the following scenario:

              1) I am a slow cyclist to begin with. I have a "granny bike" with 3 gears and I ride whenever possible in my work clothes. I am no speed deamon.

              2) Even as a slow cyclist, I am faster than most joggers and I do need to pass them frequently.

              3)I warn the jogger, as is the stated rule and the actual, codified law and move to my left.

              4) OOPS guess who's there?! A "spandexie" who is trying to overtake me AND the jogger who has given NO warning with whom I have almost collided at 8-10 mph (me) and 15 or so (him). Wouldn't have made a difference if I'd slowed down (might have made it worse) or if he slowed to 8-10...that's still one nasty collision that the jogger would probably be involved in too.

              5) I do slow down.

              by Catherine on Jun 19, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

              I didn't say "only slowing down" will solve the problem. Warnings are vital, but speed is a huge problem on the trail.

              But it is a key to safety on the trail.

              And pedestrians need to be careful with headsets, phones, etc. and contribute to ensuring their own safety. Not hugging the center line while walking is another tactic more need to adopt.

              by Capt. Hilts on Jun 19, 2012 12:30 pm • linkreport

              Ah sorry, it seemed to me when you said "slowing down is the answer", while also saying that you dislike a common form of audible warning that you were saying that slowing down is the end all be all way to make the trail safe. And it's not, because even a low-speed collision can seriously hurt someone. Heck, a two-runner collision can seriously hurt someone. Ever seen a rugby match?

              And also just to be clear: we don't know (or at least if we've found out, I haven't heard) if speed was a factor in this, if the cyclist was slowing down etc.

              by Catherine on Jun 19, 2012 1:00 pm • linkreport

              Ring a bell. Assume they'll go the wrong way and be prepared for it. The Saddle River Pathway in NJ is a VERY ramdom place. Also assume they do NOT speak ENGLISH. So "On your left" may be useless. I must say too that the park does a TERRIBLE job educating the public. I've heard people yell back 'Says who?' when someone says 'Please stay right' or similar. I've even contacted local police about a running club not staying on the right side. They STILL do it. 3 up even! I am surprised more accidents don't happen.

              by Chris on Jun 20, 2012 1:26 am • linkreport

              Slow down. "on your left" is useless. Ring a bell and continue to slow down until you see a response from the walker. The walker could be wearing headphones. I bike, walk solo and walk with my dog on the same trail. The only problems come from cyclists who do not slow down enough.

              by Rouse on Jun 21, 2012 6:21 am • linkreport

              I do and have done everything I can think of to warn kids, families, and older folks walking on mixed-use paths. I've even used complete sentences telling them exactly what I intend to do, and they quickly proceed into my lane. I say that because some (fill in the blank) will be in the left lane to begin with or span the entire width of the path selfishly, so I pass on the right in the grass. In my perfect world I would taze them and kick them in the groin, then yell into their face with no consequence, then proceed onward. Just kidding. Perhaps. But I digress. So sometimes people deserve the consequences of their error when warned. Thankfully, I've never hit anyone, but that's due to my slowing down as I approach more than anything else.

              by Raging Rick on Jun 21, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

              As a biker I ride my bike the same way I drive my car. Don't tail gate' and, always antiscipate the other person's. Responce, incase you need to stop, go around. I never get close to anyone in the bike trail until I know I have a positive responce from them and I can past safely. As it should always be.

              by Gleda Sims on Jun 28, 2012 10:51 pm • linkreport

              So sad! Nonetheless, most of the time, people freaks out when you say "On your left." So normally, common sense says too, "Slow down and be alert." But hey, we are in a country where you never see ads or campaigns in favor of bicycling, you only see BP's and car sales. Down here in Flori-duh, sometimes its impossible even to cross a street safely, no freaking body stops or even look at you when making a right. Plus, you can get not only frustrated but also, really angry because as no one is used to see people walking or cycling, you can get insulted, hit by plastic cups thrown on purpose from a window and more... No kiddin' at all.

              by Jefferson Aleman on Mar 16, 2013 3:07 am • linkreport

              I have decided i am going to use
              "I will be passing on your left"
              if i am too out of breath to say that whole centence then i know i am going way to fast around pedestrians.

              it also does not seem to startle and put people into a panic.
              a short horn honk startles and scares which causes a fight or flight response (unpredictable). a longer statement does not startle. and allows for a reseanable response.

              it takes me at least two seconds to react to anything saftly and predictably. "i will be passing on your left" first while saying "i will be" tells the person there is someone behind them and that person is giving directions. "passing on your left" allows them to know i will be passing them so they should not make any sudden moves.

              it takes me a bit to turn my active hearing on. i know that is a strange way to say it. but if someone makes a quick comment i never understand what they said unless i am looking at them. maybe i am going deaf. but i just like to think it takes me a second or two to engage and respond to my hearing.

              but trails edicit should be taught. if you are on the trail stay left. and like motor cyclists do not take up all the trail a team of people should take up less than half the taril at all times. a walker should always stay right. i know i have seen a million signs stay right. but too many people have lost that.

              even driving cars. stay right all the time. on a 4 lane road two lanes for driving two lanes for passing! that way there are no accidents. if everyone is in the right lane all the time when they pass they know there is some one in the right lane. and less likely to hit cars. but i guess i do nto drive a car.

              and yes honking at me does nothing but startle me and will either result in me stopping to look to see what the threat is or jumping and behaving unpredictably. is you honk at me if i can ignore it i will. if you want me to do something tell me what it is you want me to do. i cannot read your mind! nor will i behave as you want me to.

              but if your honking to scare me then. go ahead and honk and it will scare me. and i usually avoid intercetions that people get impatient at. and impatient people honk. people who honk are three times more likely to get into accidents. they expect the other person to do soemthing. instead of themselves changing their behavior.

              by jkeller4000 on Jun 9, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

              Bells and audible warnings/announcements are fine for those who can hear them. It must also be borne in mind that 10% of the population (all ages) has some form of hearing impairment, generally increasing with age from 2% of 18 year-olds (and younger) to 33% of those 65 and older.

              Although all this should be kept in mind anywhere one may bike, remember that Gallaudet University for the deaf/hearing impaired is located in Washington, which means that DC'ers in particular should be aware of all these issues.

              by Dave on Jun 10, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

              Runner are more danger than. Cycle on the sidewalk. They can catch up to pedestrian and hit them on the back but there is no harm in that. Rollerblading some time time can't stop unlike bike. Bike can pass on the grass too and pavement.

              Trails pass on the left if pedestrian , speed walker or run, roller blade pass on your right

              Sidewalk passing on grass if there object just say excuse me if there wearing headphone slow down than speed when you see a driveway or crosswalk so you can pass them.

              by Noah Banton on Aug 7, 2013 12:56 am • linkreport

              @jkeller4000 - I slow down, call to them, "Passing," wait 2-4 seconds for them to respond and when they do (usually turning to look at me), "On your left," at which point they will normally move over. If they don't hear me, it is because they are deaf/hoh or wearing headphones, etc. in which case I deal with the situation as needed, possibly stopping to tap them on the shoulder if they are still in the left lane.

              by DaveG on Aug 7, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

              Walkers/joggers typically do not know you are behind them. If they are walking to the far right and there is adequate room to pass, a simple "passing on your left" is generally sufficient to let them know you're there. For those groups walking two or three abreast, taking up the entire path, I offer a pleasant "Hello," to get their attention, followed by "passing on your left." Most everyone instinctively moves to the right. There are those though, that are completely oblivious to their surroundings, such as those wearing headphones or practicing cell phone posture. I try to be observant and act accordingly. I have yet to run over anyone while out exercising on my Segway. :)

              by Joe Smiley on Aug 19, 2013 2:45 am • linkreport

              As a visitor to Virginia, I was surprised to find that it is standard for pedestrians to walk on the right. I find it much safer to jog on the left where I can visually see approaching cyclists and move out of the way. I've read the argument that traveling in the same direction minimizes the speed differential, but I think the extra time I get having seen the cyclist early dramatically trumps that argument. I don't need the benefit of colliding in the same direction because I am never startled by a cyclist. https://www.roseville.ca.us/transportation/bikeways/share_the_trail.asp

              by Jen on Jul 17, 2014 11:10 pm • linkreport

              I don't know. At the lower speeds involved, I'm not sure that this is any better than everyone keeping to the right on NMT's. It's different if you're walking on a street/road/highway where you have the higher speeds of motor vehicles and therefore greater dangers to pedestrians. Still best if bicycles ride with motor traffic on roads, though.

              by DaveG on Jul 18, 2014 8:39 am • linkreport

              I don't have much sympathy I am afraid. If you cycle or use the cycle paths you will know what I mean, you ring you bell and ignorant pedestrians deliberetly stand in the middle of the cycle paths.

              I have caught many incidents on camera. One guy in particular walking in the cycle path with his girlfriend whilst there was an empty footpath, I rang my bell and his girlfriend moved to the side, he turned round and walked out in front of me.

              Dog walkers trail their dog leads across the path, I was nearly flipped over my handle bars as I didn't spot thin lead that looked like a trip wire.

              Then you have your ignorant chavs that try to intimidate you by standing in huge groups shouting abusive comments and trying to stop you getting past.

              Sorry but if you don't want to get hit don't be stupid enough to walk on the cycle paths, walk on the footpath that always seems to be empty.

              by Rebecca Barrow on Jul 24, 2014 8:06 pm • linkreport

              As a pedestrian, I walk on the left, facing bikers -- like you are supposed to do on a roadway. I make eye contact -- that way I'm not surprised by a bicyclist speeding past from behind. I am also a cyclist, ha e ridden competitively, and don't speed down the trail terrorizing pedestrians. If your goal is a hard workout ride, find a wide open stretch of road without pedestrians.

              by fantum on Jul 26, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

              I am from the UK so I am not sure what the rules are where you are however as a pedestrian I walk on the footpath and as a cyclist I ride on the cycle path.

              I have never set out to terrorize pedestrians however there are two separate pathways in the UK that separate cyclists from pedestrians and they always insist on walking in the middle of the cycle paths causing a danger to cyclists. They wouldn't walk in the road, so why do they insist on walking in the middle of a cycle paths.

              To name just a few hazards:
              Dog Owners walking their dogs and letting them run riot. On one occasion which I have on camera a pedestrian is walking along the cycle way towards me so could clearly see me, the footpath was empty as usual. He was trailing a thin trip wire lead across the cycle path which I could not see and as I have gone to pass him I was nearly flipped over my handle bars, the lead wrapped around my leg. Lucky I managed to react and brake quickly otherwise his dog would have gone under my wheel and I probably would have been flipped off my bike with some broken bones or perhaps worse.

              Pedestrians with headphones in whilst walking in the middle of the cycle path. They cannot hear your bell and swerve in your direction walking straight in front of your bike and again you guessed it the footpath was empty.

              Then you have the really ignorant pedestrians that walk in mass on the cycle paths. Again you ring your bell they turn around and look at you and decide they are not going to let you go past, on some occasions they deliberately walk in front of you and again you guessed it the footpath was empty.

              I just don't understand the stupidity of some people and why they have to spoil the enjoyment of others who just want to ride their bike peacefully along the cycle path without having to stop every two minutes when there is a foot path completely empty and there to be used.

              If I can I prefer to use the roads but unfortunately I then get called every name under the sun and told to get off the road and on the F****** cycle paths in their words.

              There is no need for any of it really. There is a footpath, there is a cycle path and when I walk I use the footpath, when I walk my dog I take him to the park and when I choose to use my bike I use the cycle ways. Simple common sense - no excuses!

              by Rebecca Barrow on Jul 28, 2014 6:32 pm • linkreport

              Cyclists have been making their own rules for a long time. They are governed by the laws controlling vehicles, and yet they still insist that they can be a pedestrian when it is convenient, or to use their own made up rule when they choose, and expect the rest of the world to abide by that.
              Pedestrians have the right of way, but that shouldn't prevent them from giving the right to be there when paths are shared. Courteous people don't barge into spaces.

              by P Page on Sep 30, 2014 7:44 pm • linkreport

              Actually bicyclists are indeed vehicles and largely must behave like motor vehicles, but not completely so. And not pedestrians, either. It's the difference between a 3,000 lb. steel box traveling at speeds ranging from 25-75+ MPH and a 20 lb. bicycle ridden by a 175 lb. human (to generalize but you get the idea). You can now see how much more vulnerable bicycles and their riders are in comparison to motor vehicles, pedestrians even more so. And yes, slower road users should keep to the right on whatever road or path they are on.

              by Dave G on Sep 30, 2014 8:42 pm • linkreport

              What I do on multi-use trails:

              1. Call out "Passing"
              2. Await a response after perhaps 5 seconds
              3. Once I get the pedestrian's attention: "On your left" then pass once they move to the right.

              by Dave G on Sep 30, 2014 8:48 pm • linkreport

              I don't bother with bells. If they can hear my voice as usually happens, great. But they could be deaf or hard of hearing (hoh) so if that happens I worry about it then.

              by Dave G on Sep 30, 2014 8:50 pm • linkreport

              Bells do not work well as a walker or jogger often cannot tell if it is an approaching bike or an over-taking bike that rang the bell.

              It is much easier to tell where a voice is coming from.

              And, as a cyclist, I would slow down if the person/s did not react to my "on your left."

              by Capt. Hilts on Sep 30, 2014 9:22 pm • linkreport

              Kay Teschke of the Cycling in Cities Research group at University of British Columbia has done research on cycling injuries and has determined that multi-use paths are close to the worst type of infrastructure for cycling. My opinion is that they should only be used in areas where mixed use is low. Even then, they should be constructed with sufficient width (min 3.5m or 12 ft.) and should have good sightlines and zero obstructions. For heavily used paths, separate paths should be made for pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists ask for 3 ft rule for passing cars. Maybe we should have a 3 ft rule for cyclists passing pedestrians.

              by Arno Schortinghuis on Oct 13, 2014 2:37 pm • linkreport

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