Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Rules?

Although Bill Maher is a favorite of mine, I do not intend for this to be about him. I just couldn't think of a proper title.

On our hike-bike trail (on which the maintenance people and rangers are very much in evidence using golf carts or "gators"), the posted rule is "keep to the right". It has been probably about a year since I (a bicyclist) came up behind a walker who was walking to the left. My first thought was, "How am I going to get past this fool. There's no way I can pass him on the left without getting off the trail!" I decided to just keep going straight ahead, since the trail before us was clear. It was perhaps the smoothest passing I've ever made on the trail.

In another world, when I was a kid and things were very different from now, there were signs spaced regularly along Texas highways that said, "Walk to the left side of the road, facing traffic". That's a very sensible idea for pedestrians, I think. I have noticed that "hikers" on the hike-bike trail, especially if they are walking in pairs or in a group, seem to be quite surprised when they hear a bicyclist announcing his intentions as he comes up behind them. I've seen hikers jump off the trail, or grab their partners and pull them roughly over to the side, but there always seems to be a reaction which will make them deviate in some way.

It would seem to me that this could be avoided by following one of the simplist of traffic rules.

Bicycles are vehicles, and have always been considered as such. They should always follow the same traffic rules as any other vehicles. Pedestrians are not vehicles.

If the rules of the trail were the same as rules of the road, with vehicles to the right side of the road, and pedestrians to the left, the pedestrians would never be surprised by a bicycle approaching them from behind, and the bicyclist would not have to wonder, "How is this pedestrian going to react to my passing him?". I always get a warm, friendly feeling now, when I see a hiker practicing civil disobedience, facing me on the same side of the trail. Maybe they should re-evaluate that trail rule of "keep to the right", and follow the more traditional traffic rules.



rufism said...

That's it...i'm calling the Hiker police...civil disobedience my hynee...I love startling unsuspecting hikers preoccupied in nature and good conversation with a quick adrenaline rush of avoiding a 210 lbs. black guy on a mountain can also make a woman think her date is a hero by roughly moving her out of the way and saving her life!!! Reevaluate your thoughts young man...some rules are there to make others more galant!!!

Willie C said...

How could I possibly argue with that, man? You've left me speechless, and that's no lie.

I must have been thinking only of myself, and not using common sense at all.

I wonder if not being a 210 lbs. black guy has warped my perspective?

Bruce Moore said...

So long as we're talking warped perspective, it's not unusual to experience just that when coming upon moms, three abreast, with ATV strollers - not an uncommon occurrence on many fine Seattle walk & wheel trails.

Nowhere to go, and not much time to get there.

8^ 0

Is that against the law in Texas?!

Willie C said...

No, Bruce, it's not against the law. I'm not at all sure that I'd want it to be. We are certainly plagued by too many laws already.

I'd like our trail to be open to everyone except for horses and powered vehicles, to use as they see fit.

Our trail is mostly 8' wide, with a few places where it's squeezed down to 4', and in one segment, 6'.

I don't think that I've ever encountered three moms abreast, although two is rather common. Our trail might not be wide enough for three.

I also find that walkers seem to be the least attentive of all. I suppose it's because they're usually engaged in conversation, and are concentrating on each other, and not much else. For that reason, if no other, I think it would be better for them to walk facing bicycle traffic.

I can understand your concern about "Nowhere to go, and not much time to get there." For myself, I try to ride at a leisurely pace, had have never really gotten into any close calls. There are a lot of bike riders, however, who are riding for exercise, and could easily get into such a situation.

My idea here, is that I think that it would be better for everyone, both hikers and bikers, if they'd apply the traditional "rules of the road" to the trail.

rufism said...

Hmmm...Mr.H...what do you think of same sex couples using the trails two abreast, while discussing the shooting of a Dr. who performs late terms abortions by a man who thinks that that's murder so he murders him. That same couple also thinks that a Limbaugh/Gingrich ticket would be best for our country as soon as Sotomayer is not confirmed while contemplated who will be on the United State of Texas supreme court when ya'll secede...and they are walking against traffic? ;]

Willie C said...

Well, my first reaction would be to shoot them, but I usually leave my weapons at home when I'm on the trail (too much weight).

I'll have to think about that one, Rufus, and get back to you......then, maybe I won't get back to you, I'll just let YOU think about it.