There are always other bikers, runners, walkers and skaters causing traffic jams on the trail, especially in nice weather. Then comes fall, and with it, the crew teams and cross-country runners! For those of you who run and bike along Forbidden Drive and the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia, note that cross-country season–that glorious time of year when sweaty kids train in packs to race on natural terrain courses–is in full swing, and the crew teams too are heading to their boats (and in the process, swarming the trail near boathouse row). The runners primarily train in the late afternoon/early evenings (sometimes early mornings).
So, watch out for the mobs of lean, mean, running machines from every high school and college in the Philadelphia region. The slow ones always seem to be desperately trying to keep up with the pack, off to the side, right where one might want to pass. And since they’re trying so desperately to hang on, they are really loathe to use any extra energy to get out of a biker’s way (or they’re suffering hearing loss due to a lack of oxygen to the brain). I was once on a cross country team and have run miles and miles alone and in mobs for years (and was often the one trying desperately to keep up) so I keep a soft spot in my heart for them, but I do wish that their coaches–some, others do a very good job of this–would take 5 minutes to teach the runners some basic trail etiquette. But we, as cyclists, can at least do our part. When you need to pass a mob of runners (or walkers), take time to slow down, alert them that you’re passing with a friendly but audible “passing on your left”, and pass with caution, keeping in mind that there may be someone else, who you can’t yet see, trying to pass from the other direction as well.
As for other alerts, it is getting a lot better since the storms–there have been at least 6 trees across the trail along my commute that have already been cleaned up–but there are still obstacles remaining on the path along the Wissahickon, over a week after the storms: