Some basic etiquette for those of us who use busy, urban/suburban, multi-use recreational trails, including Forbidden Drive Trail, Lincoln Drive Trail and the Schuylikill River Trail
A busy trail is very similar to a roadway. If you wouldn’t do it on the street, don’t do it on the path either. This includes U-turns without looking over your shoulder, passing on the right, stopping in the middle of the path, walking in the middle or left side of the path, and yelling obscenities. (OK, so maybe we each occasionally do that last one on the roadways, but it isn’t acceptable on the trail.) Also, if you walk, run or bike with headphones, keep one ear free, or turn your music down low enough to hear passing traffic. Keep in mind the nature of a multi-use trail. While you may be trying to get to work on your bicycle, others are trying to enjoy a morning stroll with their child. Conversely, if you are strolling along hand-n-hand with your lovey, keep in mind that someone behind you may be trying to get home to their family on their way home from work.
Walk, run, skate and cycle to the right of the trail.
Pass on the left.
Share the trail.
Try to anticipate the actions of those ahead to avoid collisions.
Always listen and be on the look-out for others.
If you plan to stop, look behind you first, and stop to the side of the trail.
Do not litter, and practice low-impact trail use.
Be polite. (We’re all out there for recreation, after all. Trail rage is no fun.)
Be aware of your surroundings.
Glance over your shoulder periodically, and always before stopping, passing and turning.
Never cross the trail without looking. (It is bad enough that the geese do this.)
Look out for the well-being of other trail users.
Special Considerations with Children:
Keep your children within arms’ reach and to the right of the path.
Consider using the trail at less busy times (or another area such as a parking lot or grassy field) for things like teaching your child how to ride a bike.
Teach your children how to use a multi-use trail safely and review the basics each time you get on the trail together. (I knew I had succeeded with this one when my son yelled at me “Mom, stay to the right of the path!” Do as I say, not as I do…)
Special Considerations with Dogs:
Be mindful of how well-behaved your canine friend really is, and before taking them on a busy trail, make sure you have good control. (Ask a friend their opinion, as doggie mommies and daddies, myself included, often have wildly flawed perceptions of our dogs’ obedience.) If there’s a possibility Spot will jump or bark at children, bikers or runners, consider training him elsewhere and at less busy times before taking him on a busy path a 5pm. Full disclosure: my naughty little lovable pooch is old and cranky and therefore no longer allowed on busy paths.
Only walk your dog on a busy trail if you are using a very short leash. Trying to pass someone who is walking a dog on a long leash is extremely dangerous for the person passing, as well as the doggie and the owner.
Consider keeping your dog to your right, on the outside of the path.
Special Considerations for In-Line Skaters:
When the trail is busy, limit the wide turns and side-swinging of your arms.
Skate in control and ready to stop quickly and safely.
Special Considerations for Walkers and Runners:
Stay on the right side of the path.
If passing a slower pedestrian, look quickly behind you before going to the left side of the trail to pass.
Don’t walk or run with more than one other person sise-by-side during busy times on the path. Your group should never take up more than half of the path. Ideally, groups should run single-file when the trail is busy.
Special Considerations for Bikers:
Unless passing others, stay to the right of the path and pass on the left.
Cycle in control. Be ready to stop quickly and safely.
Don’t cycle with more than one other person sise-by-side during busy times on the path. Your group should never take up more than half of the path. Ideally, groups should cycle single-file when the trail is busy.
When passing others, slow down and look quickly behind you before going to the left side of the trail to pass.
When necessary, alert others that you’re intending to pass with an audible (but not jolting) “Passing on your left!” “Out of the way!!” is not acceptable, even if it is what we want to scream sometimes. If you’re biking in a pair or group, informing others of the number passing is helpful (e.g., “Five bikers passing on your left!”).
Special Considerations for Spitters:
Do your spitting and snot-blowing when others aren’t nearby, and try to avoid landing your luggies on the trail.