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Bike paths and Dear Abby

by Richard Masoner

DEAR ABBY: I am neither a biker nor a walker on a path. A cyclist ringing his bell signaling me to move would do no good, so I guess I’d be one of those ending up with “great bodily harm,” as you put it. You see, I’m hard-of-hearing and could not hear that dinging bell behind me.

So, bikers, do not totally rely on your bell to signal people to move. If there are pedestrians where you’re riding, I urge you to use caution in case somebody might have a hearing impairment. – Hard-of-Hearing in West Texas

That’s the advice I give and the way I ride when on the path. Read more today’s special bike path issue of Dear Abby.

 
Burley nomad 229

20 Responses to “Bike paths and Dear Abby”

  1. Noah says:

    Hard-of-hearing in west texas sounds a lot like the iPod zombies on my local paths. Inevitably, said iPod zombies are usually walking with their friends three abreast and/or walking a dog on a quarter-mile-long piece of yarn. I just take the grass. Or on occasion I sneak up behind them, ride REALLY close and scream “BOOGABOOGABOOGA!” and see what kind of response I get.

    Actually, I try to make sure I’m going relatively slow when passing pedestrians. If I say On Your Left (I don’t have a bell) and they don’t respond, I give them a wide berth.

  2. John says:

    Yep. Slower traffic stay right and all is well.

    If you’re hard of hearing, deaf, dumb, blind, talking on your cell, listening to music etc; don’t walk in the middle of a MUP. It’s not safe for anyone.

    If you’re riding your bicycle on a MUP, assume all of the above is true and proceed cautiously.

    Easy nuff’.

    John

  3. BSR says:

    Ever since I once said “on your left” and the little-old-lady in front of me only heard “left” and proceeded to turn left into my path, I don’t do that any more. It was a near-collision, and I ended up against a chain-link fence. She stared for a second, and turned and walked away.

    I use my bell, but as Noah pointed out — you can’t hear much through headphones, and about 75% of walkers here seem to have them. I slow down as much as I need to, but I no longer feel bad about scaring someone by riding past them. If they shut the world out, it’s their problem, not mine.

    Don’t get me started on long dog-leashes….I almost ran over some lady’s rat-dog a few months back as she meandered down the median, talking on her cell phone — no idea the dog was way out in the street. I was in my SUV and if I hadn’t braked sharply, the dog would have been a rat-pancake.

    That’s one thing I love about bike-commuting. I hear and see so much more of what’s going on around me than when I’m in my car. I just wish everyone who was outside would do the same.

  4. david in fla says:

    Airzound has a horn that just about anybody can hear (feel). It’s a bit obnoxious, but if people are ignorant/oblivious/stupid, it’s a great tool.

  5. Jeff Moser says:

    I use a bell. It seems like any other sound you make scares people. “On your left” confuses people, and besides, you’re yelling! Yelling scares people, and you usually don’t hear what the yeller is saying. I’ve seen people jump left after hearing the phrase.

    Before getting a bell, I’d try to fake cough. Nobody could hear it though. So when I finally got up on them, On Your Left, or Riders Back, or even Excuse Me…sent people jumping into the air.

  6. Nicole says:

    Like other bikers I’m sure, I’ve developed the ability to fairly accurately predict which pedestrians (or other bikers) might give me “problems” on bike paths. I generally always slow down slightly but take special precautions with these people. People with dogs get a warning from farther away so they have more time to gather in the leash. I always say “on your left” and have only had a problem once or twice. I also LOVE the pedestrians that give a little wave of the hand acknowledging me — they know I’m coming and I know that they know I’m coming.

  7. Darren says:

    I sometimes use a soft and subtle “On your Left”

    Sometime I use my best U.S. Marine drill instructor’s voice “ON YOUR LEFT”

    No matter what I say or how I say it I’m always prepared they are going to stop, turn around and give me the deer in the head lights look or veer off to the left instead of the right.

  8. rick says:

    People don’t use the commom sense approach of slower traffic keeping to the right on our roadways so I have no expectation that they would on pathways either. I get particularly annoyed at the triple threat pedestrian. Starbucks coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other or headphones on and a dog on a long leash.

    I’m somewhat confused. If Hard of Hearing in West Texas is neither a biker or a walker I assume he/she must fly.

  9. Nicole says:

    Ha, rick. I wondered about that myself. :)

  10. Quinn says:

    1 more vote for Airzounds, there no mistaking words, which direction its coming from or what thsounder of the horn wants.

  11. pc says:

    I wasn’t at the meeting where the term “MUP” was adopted. Please define.

  12. Fritz says:

    MUP = “Multi Use Path.” Because there really aren’t any such things as “bike paths.” (well, they’re rare, anyway)

    MUP means go slow and be wary.

  13. Jett says:

    I’ve got a bike bell. Not only can it alert people you’re coming around them, but it greets people on the other side of the road as you pass, and can be a thank you for when a car yields the right of way. It’s also a fun multiplier when you pass a bunch of kids who watch you pass by.

    Still, I usually greet people with Good Morning when I approach from behind (even sometimes in the afternoon, by mistake). A bell can sometimes sound like “get out of my way”, but “Good Morning” — even in late afternoon — never sounds like “get out of my way”.

    I’m trying to figure out though a recent trend that just started with the new year. Pedestrians seem to be walking on the wrong side of this one stretch of MUP. When I approach one, I make my lane position clear, take a long look behind me to assure no one is coming around, sharply change lanes, say “Good Morning”, and then swing around them back to the proper lane.

  14. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    For me, most of the time, I sing paSSING on your left, or BEEP BEEP passing on your left. After passing a lot of walkers with headphones or what ever, most of them have seemed to hear without jumping. For others I just ride slowly until it’s safe to pass. I know how it feels to be terrorized by a big stinking car, so I do my best to not terrorize people who don’t have a vehicle as big as mine.

  15. paul says:

    Can someone guide me to a website that gives the mileage from different points on the Erie canal pathway? Example: Elmgrove Rd. Roch. to Gillett Rd. Spencerport.

  16. RainCityCyclist says:

    Paul– Try Bikely.com for routes/mileage/mapping your route.

    I don’t use a bell. First,I think they’re corny. Second, I don’t want another item strapped to my bike, and third, the prevalence of headphones renders the bell mosty ineffective. I try to proactively look far enough ahead to identify the potential problems. I sue “on your left” which isn’t effective. People sometimes think they should MOVE to the left, or they look at me with disgust like “how dare you say that”. Funny… :-)

    Any other bikers out there ride with headphones on?

  17. Nicole says:

    I’ll admit that when I’m on road rides I wear headphones/listen to music to keep me motivated. However, I’m very careful to make sure that it’s at a volume setting where I hear traffic first and the music second.

  18. Michael says:

    Instead of buying a bell or saying “on your left” (to which I’ve noticed most pedestrians then move to their left-if they hear me) I’ve adopted the practice of mimicking a bell: “Ding Ding!”

    The iPod’s gotta go, people really ought to unplug!

  19. Jeff Moser says:

    I’ve been using the Incredibell. It’s stealth, and pretty loud for its size. And since most of my pedestrian encounters are out on the trail, I appreciate the fact that it doesn’t ding until needed.

  20. Juan says:

    I’m also an Incredibell advocate. When I used to race, “On your left” seemed pretty simple. I’ve found though that most pedestrians have no idea what I’m talking about, and like most of you here have said, move to the left when they hear me. Now I give a few rings before I get close, and most people look back, then move over. I always say hello or morning as I pass, and have had a lot of people say thank you as I go by. The bell also seems better at penetrating the iPod crowd….maybe it’s the pitch?

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