The clear trail message is “Ride and Walk Right – Pass Left.” This conflicts with conventional on- the road guidance with is, for pedestrians, “walk on the left side facing traffic” and, for people on bicycles, “ride on the right with traffic” where in both cases “traffic” means “motor vehicle traffic.” We frequently see both people walking and on bicycles flaunting this common sense rule at their own peril. While walking (jogging, running) facing traffic is wise in that one can “stop on a dime” and jump out of the way, riding facing traffic confuses people in cars and provides no means to “jump” out of the way. It is also illegal. This wrong-way-riding puts other people on bicycles at risk. It also risks making a collision a head-on one rather than a “rear-ender” or sideswipe.
With the apparent universal move to allow e-vehicles to ride in bicycle lanes and on multiuse paths, the need for a firm trail protocol is even more essential. In all cases, the faster traveler (joggers vs. walkers, inline skaters vs. joggers, bicycles vs. joggers, etc.) must yield to the slower.
Regrettably, if New York State Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, Empire State Trail, Parks and Trails New York, and New York State Parks and Recreation have any guidance on trail etiquette, it is well hidden. Accordingly, we have to rely on secondary sources for guidance.
Some of these are as follows:
- “Go With The Flow – Despite a few crazy trail traffic concepts out there, such as “Walk Left — Ride Right,” staying to your right when trail traveling is the proper way to go. Faster travelers will overtake slower movers by passing on their left: joggers pass walkers, bladders pass joggers, and cyclists pass bladders and so on. Obviously, there can be a lot of passing on congested bikeway sections. Be patient and don’t crowd out oncoming traffic by passing too hurriedly.” SOURCE: https://www.ohiobikeways.net/tips.htm
- “Trail Use for Walkers – Walkers are almost the slowest trail user. All of the others are faster and will be coming from behind to pass. Walk on the right side of the trail, slowest traffic keep right; pass on left. SOURCE: https://www.miamivalleytrails.org/safety-trail-etiquette
- “Safety Tips: Just like out on the road, faster trail users should pass slower users on the left. Give an audible warning with a bell, or call out ‘Passing on your left!’” SOURCE: https://www.miamivalleytrails.org/safety-trail-etiquette
- “Trail Use for Bicyclists – Bikes are the fastest traffic on the trail. Very fast riding is inappropriate for the trails and should be done on public roadways. Warn slower moving traffic that you are passing. Sound your bell or say loudly before you get to the other traffic ‘On Your Left.’ The speeds of a bike make it possible to startle other trail users, so don’t wait to give your warning until you are right next to the walker or runner. Do give enough time.” SOURCE: https://www.miamivalleytrails.org/safety-trail-etiquette
- See video at SOURCE: https://bikeleague.org/content/sharing-trail
- “Be Cool, It’s a Bike Path – HOW TO BE SAFE AND HAVE MORE FUN THE NEXT TIME YOU ROLL DOWN A MULTI-USE PATH – Ride right, pass left. Act like a car in these situations. Right for travel, left for passing.” SOURCE: https://www.bicycling.com/rides/a20044207/be-cool-its-a-bike-path/
- See video for “Rule #2” at SOURCE: https://www.railstotrails.org/experience-trails/share-the-trail/
- See “GUIDELINES FOR MULTI-USE TRAILS AND PATHS” SOURCE: http://www.bikemn.org/education/minnesota-bicycling-handbook/rules-for-paths-a-trails (you may have to copy and paste this URL)