Rules for trails and paths

Katie had mentioned in a comment about what was proper etiquette for multiuse trails and paths.  This is separate from riding/walking in the streets.  Too many times, people get on a path and just do whatever they want, not realizing there are rules you should follow to prevent inconveniencing others or worse, causing an accident.  Sometimes these may be posted at the trail head, but not always.

People actually tie their dogs to this sign.  I don’t know if they are being ironic or just don’t read it.

No matter what your mode of transport (feet, bike, roller blades) – stay to the right.  Unless you live in a country where driving occurs on the wrong left side, always be on the right side of the path.  You should always be passed on the left side and those people need room to do so safely.

Don’t walk in groups side by side. If you have multiple people in your group, do not spread across the path.  Most times when people are in large groups, they are talking and are not paying attention to what is going on around them. At most, 2 people across and only if there is room to do so leaving adequate space on the other side.  Also, do not bike in groups like this either.  Cyclists should ride single file unless there is *plenty* of room for oncoming path users and for people to pass you on the left.

Never just stop dead on the path.  If you need to stop for whatever reason, move off to the side off of the pathway itself.  You never know who may be coming up fast behind you or if you are on a path with curves or a narrow portion and you aren’t visible.

Let people know when you are coming up behind them. Whether you are a jogger passing a walker or a biker passing, signal to the people in front of you that you are approaching.  You can use a bell or horn or just give a holler.  I usually say “Passing on your left” which lets them know I am back there and getting ready to pass and on what side.  Also try to give them enough time to hear you and process that in order to react.

Short leash your dogs.  If you are walking with your dog on a path, first make sure they are allowed there.  If so, keep them on a short leash.  As a biker, I can tell you it is really scary to be coming along and have a dog on a long leash come across the path in front of you.   And don’t forget to pick up their poo 😀

Headphones – this is such a touchy subject.  You should always be able to hear someone trying to connect with you, so keep your music at a level that makes that possible.  I can’t tell you how many times I have shouted as I was passing a jogger/walker with headphones on and they didn’t hear me.  Then I scare them coming by.  I personally don’t think bikers should wear headphones because you are just moving so fast that you need to be very aware of what is going on.  And you know, the nice thing about multiuse paths is that you can enjoy the sites and sounds of nature!  So try leaving the headphones at home.

Hope these tips help!  Anyone have anything else to add?

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24 thoughts on “Rules for trails and paths

  1. Amber

    My two biggest gripes are the dogs and the groups of people who just stop dead on the path (particularly the groups of kids in HF). Dogs make me nervous in general, more so when I’m running/walking on the path, so I don’t think it’s difficult to go somewhere else with your dog. There are plenty of other parks, paths and streets that AREN’T restricted for dogs. I don’t get why so many people don’t follow that one simple rule (it’s actually a hot topic on the Glens Falls Craigslist…you should check it out for a good laugh)!

    I wear my headphones on my bike or even when I’m on foot unless I’m with someone. I keep it down pretty low though so that I can hear whats going on around me, and hear myself when I speak to someone. It’s part of the enjoyment for me. 🙂
    Amber´s last blog post ..Introverted

  2. debby

    You know I love dogs. But I agree with the keeping them under control or off the restricted paths. Too dangerous for the dogs and the people! I don’t really walk on paths where others walk, but I never wear headphones. I just enjoy nature.
    debby´s last blog post ..Orchids Plus

  3. Shelley B

    That “passing on your left” thing rarely works, even when I was running, because it seems like everyone and their brother wears headphones. And you’re right – you DO end up startling them, when you tried not to! People are clueless!
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..Personal Pep Talk

  4. bethlin

    Why can’t people just, for the love of all that is fuzzy, train their dogs and be AWARE! I hate it when they ruin the image of good dog owners and dogs everywhere. I once came home from a run to see a group of three people standing in front of my street with their giant (>100lb) dogs. One on the south sidewalk, one on the north sidewalk and one in the middle of the street – because they were arguing (loudly, at 5:30am, in a neighborhood) over who had to pick up the doggy doo. I run with one of my dogs ONLY in the early morning (before 5:30am) just so we can avoid these types of dogs (since they make her anxious) and here they were blocking an ENTIRE STREET! ARG! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 🙂
    bethlin´s last blog post ..New Recipe: Turkey Noodle Soup

  5. cammy@tippytoediet

    Good tips! Our paths have similar customs (with one in my area giving preference to walkers/runners), but we shorten the signal to “on your left”, or some people just yell, “LEFT!”

    I would add only one tip: Smile when you meet someone on the path! This morning I met two cyclists and one runner who wouldn’t so much as grunt a hello! Why so glum?
    cammy@tippytoediet´s last blog post ..Tippy-toeing Back to Normal

  6. Fran

    I think you captured it quite good. I use these “rules” when I’m running too. I do wear headphones but music is not too loud. I need to hear if a car is behind me since most of the roads where I run don’t have a walk or bike path.

    I always keep Bella at a short lease when I see someone approach. I don’t like it myself if I’m running and a dog approaches me.

    What annoys me most is those people in groups whether they are running, walking or biking: they hardly ever make room to pass.
    Fran´s last blog post ..A day in my life: Monday July 18, 2011

  7. Jody - Fit at 53

    I think most of these can apply to just walking anywhere! Drives me crazy when I am out or shopping & a group of 3 or more decide to spread themselves across so nobody can get by OR stop to talk in front of a door so people can’t get in or out – what are they thinking! 😉

    I don’t wear headphones when I run – I want to hear to make sure!!!
    Jody – Fit at 53´s last blog post ..Family Pics/Fun; Happy Bday!

  8. Leah

    Runner’s World just had an article on this very subject. I agree that cyclists shouldn’t wear any earphones, and I think in AZ it is illegal to ride on the streets with earphones. So dangerous.

    LIke you said, the sites and sounds of nature are so nice that without thinking I find myself leaving the music/earphones off when walking or jogging outside. It’s one of the bigger draws compared to working out in a gym.

    So good to read your blog again! We’re in the same time zone now I think. 🙂
    Leah´s last blog post ..Wednesday Post #2 – Low on the Priority List

  9. Kelly Happy Texan

    My biggest pet peeves are groups of people taking up the entire “road” and dogs on long leashes or no leashes at all. Can’t tell you how many times I have had those encounters.

    When I’m walking I prefer the people on bikes who just yell “bike” behind me. I know what it means and it’s short and to the point.

    Good list.
    Kelly Happy Texan´s last blog post ..Shake, Rattle & Roll

    1. Lori Post author

      Kelly – I have a hybrid and regularly ride those long distances. No reason at all. It just might take a little longer.

  10. Jan

    I use headphones but they are low enough that I can carry on a conversation with someone. I also use “passing on the left” all the time plus “share the sidewalk” to people who are taking it all up.

    One thing I did learn about myself. When someone is coming up behind me and yells “passing on left” I know now not to look back at them. Invariably I would step/swerve out in front of them. Now I just wave to let them know I heard them.

  11. SlimKatie @ Runs for Cookies

    Thank you for posting this!! It’s very helpful, and reassures me that I think I’ve been doing pretty well 🙂 My biggest pet peeve is people who don’t leash their dogs–drives me nuts! I’ve actually been bitten 3 times in the past year by unleashed dogs.
    SlimKatie @ Runs for Cookies´s last blog post ..Judgements

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