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Trail Etiquette

Trail Etiquette along the Peace Trail
We’re all in this together
by Dean Paynter - Rock Trail Coalition

“Hey! Get out of the way!”

“You’re riding way too fast out here!”

“Don’t block the trail!”

We observed this exchange of shouted comments on the Peace Trail (!) near the Fisher Creek trailhead last summer.  Two couples, about in my age group, were having a conversation standing in both lanes of the trail as they were approached by another couple, also in about my age group, on bicycles.  People were arguing and shouting and exchanging opinions about who was right. 

The fact is they were ALL wrong.

Google ‘ trail etiquette’  – or read the trail etiquette comments on the Janesville bike map and we find some basic simple principles that can help us all get along on this shared resource, the city bike trail.

  1.  Travel on the right. Pass on the left.  This simple rule will eliminate 90% of user conflicts.  This allows faster users to pass slower users safely.
  2. Don’t Block the Trail.  Please step off the trail to carry on conversations.
  3. Give an Audible Warning before Passing.  Eliminate the startle effect.  Even runners can give a cheery “hello” before passing. Cyclists can give a “passing” or “on your left” before passing.  Many people are too nice or too shy to shout, but a bike bell is easily heard and no one takes offense. 
  4. Slow for Kids and Dogs.  Kids and dogs are unpredictable.  We all need to be aware when approaching them whether on foot or on a bike.
  5. Dogs should be under the owner’s voice control. This goes along with “#3 - Give an Audible Warning. “ Dog walkers along the Rock River Parkway off-leash area are very considerate and caring about both their dog and other trail users.  Give them a warning that you are coming so they, and their dogs, can react appropriately.  Dog owners should insure that their dogs are not harassing other trail users.
  6. Speed Limit 15 mph.  The city has not designated a top speed for cyclists, but many trails nationwide set 15 as the maximum reasonable speed on paved bike trails. When pedestrians, children and animals are present even this is way too fast.  Slow down when approaching slower trail users.
  7. Clear dog “deposits” from the pavement.  It’s ok to sweep it off into the grass. It will degrade.

Let’s add one more rule that is not on most lists:
We are all sharing the same trail. Be Kind to One Another.