Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Cyclists Attack

Here I was, out for a run with Tucker, when we came upon a situation.  At this section of the trail, to the right is a street with cars passing by and to the left is grass.  We were on the left, primarily to keep Tucker safe from the potential of cars, but also off the trail to make most use of available trail to those who might be passing from either direction.  Typically, standard trail protocol is to stay to the right, pass on the left.  Now mind you, this section only goes for about 100 yards, so after we clear that section, we go back to normal. 

So we're making our way, enjoying the nice day, when a cyclist approaches in front of us about 100 ft away.  He clearly sees us in our position and I kindly guesture to him to move over to the right (his left), where there was lots of trail space.  But he just continued spinning the pedals as if to prove a point that this is his trail and he ain't moving.  Well since he clearly wasn't going to move, I moved over with about 10 ft to go, but poor Tucker was scared by the oncoming cyclist, still pedaling toward us.  His sudden shock tripped me up and down I went to the ground all because this idiot cyclist refused to share the trail in a way that was safest for both of us.

Now let's pause for a second to think about what the conscientious person would do when witness to someone going down.  I would hope that you would dismount off your bike and make sure both myself and Tucker were ok or at least stop to act as if you didn't mean to make that happen.  I mean, you just ran 2 people off the trail because of your selfsihness to own the trail.  But that's not what happened....of course.

Small scrapes, but Tucker is ready to kill!
As I went down, I rolled to my side, only to see him look back at me while continuing to pedal and yell "Stay to the right".  Now needless to say, at this point, multiple four letter words were expressed at the cyclist.  I did a quick survey to make sure everyone was alright - Tucker was ready to get back to running and I just had a few scrapes, so on we went to continue our run and we were fine.  I was secretly hoping he was doing a lap, so I'd run into him again, but alas, we never did cross paths...

The moral of the story here is that some people are really inconsiderate of others on the trails.  Now I certainly ride my bike enough to know that not everyone follows proper etiquette of staying to the right, passing on the left.  But I also know that certain circumstances may constitute a slight tweak to those rules.  And in those cases, I'd  always try to communicate with those involved.  And in fact, others have done the same for me.  Mind you, I run on this section of trail multiple times a week with Tucker and have done the same exact thing without issue, whether it be other runners, walkers, cyclists, or roller bladers.  I stay to the left in that section so that Tucker can be off the trail to give others more space to move around us.  So I really don't think I was in the wrong.  This was also confirmed by his only response of "Stay to the right".  He clearly felt he owned the trail and everyone else should cater to him.

What would you have done - besides chase him down and have your dog bite him?


Sean in NY said...

I think you were both right. He was right to observe the "stay to the right" and you were being conscientious by going to the opposite side to let your dog use space not normally occupied by runners/cyclists. Overall, I'd say the cyclist was technically right, but either of you could just as easily moved over for the other. When it comes down to it, if you both seem to be generally in "the right", who stands to lose the most by a collision?.. If I were that person, I'd yield.

In Thailand I learned, while riding a motorcycle around, that the smaller object always yields to the larger object.

tim said...

All trail users should stay to the right, no exceptions. Think about this situation if you were driving...the rules of the road/trail exist to keep everyone safe.

If you wanted to be on the left to keep the dog away from cars, then get all the way off the trail onto the grass.

That said, the cyclist should have slowed or stopped to see if you were okay.

Lesser is More said...

I'd agree that we both own some fault in the case, but I think the car analogy doesn't work here, because you can't be pulled over for riding/running on the wrong side of the trail (not road) by law enforcement. However bicyclists are required to stop for accidents involving injury. He wouldn't have known, since he kept on his way, if I was hurt or not.

Sean - Does a person plus dog = a larger object? Me + 30lbs of dog has got to be greater than him plus his bike, assuming the bike weighs less than 30 lbs.

While I wasn't technically on the grass, of the 5 ft wide trail, I took up about 1 ft max, moving as close to the side of the trail as I could (light poles and the slope of the hill would prevent me from being all the way on the grass). For me, I was over there for safety reasons, but go back to running on the right as usual, once we get past that section.

Of course, I can't help but share the fact that I was passed by a cyclist this past weekend on the RIGHT, while I was running on the ride side on the W&OD (without dog) without even a heads up! As a runner and cyclist, I understand the frustration both groups have, but I have to throw my hands up when something like that happens, because it is inexcusable.

Kara said...

I've had similar issues on the WO&D trail! It was funny when I had my previous dog (a 110lb Doberman) because he would just swing his butt into any bikes that startled him. It was amazing to me how many bikers wouldn't announce their presence when they were passing me so I could make sure the dog wouldn't bump them over. It's funny though, when they would start to yell at me, the dog's presence seemed to change their minds, hahaha.

My current dog is terrified of bikes. I have a big issue when I'm on single track trails and mountain bikes come up behind us FAST because she just freezes and I have to actually drag her off the path. I have found that mountain bikers are less asshole-ish than road bikers though. Marginally. :)


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