Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bike Paths and Walkways

This post is a little different from my usual subject matter, but given the popularity of cycling today I think it is an important consideration.

I am a retired senior who takes daily morning walks of two to three miles along the Greenway Park bike/pedestrian trails in Beaverton.  It is a lovely area that serves the neighborhood well and is a safe way for bicycle riders to commute to their workplaces.  Unfortunately, the majority of those riders have not learned to use rider etiquette of announcing when they are passing a walker from behind.  Courtesy suggests ringing a bell or announcing, “Passing on your left.”  This allows the walker to safely stay to one side.  My gait is not always as straight as it used to be and from time to time I stumble to the right or left.  This has caused me to narrowly escape injury more than once from a speeding cyclist passing at the same time as I waver.

One morning this week as I walked along I met another walker coming toward me.  Just as we reached the same spot a cyclist whizzed in between us without notice.  The other walker could see him coming, but I could not and also could not hear him coming.  The path is barely five feet wide so perhaps you can guess how close the encounter was.

Before returning to Oregon and my current home after retirement I lived in the Seattle/Bellevue metro area and often rode my bicycle or walked along the Sammamish River Trail.  It goes for a number of miles between Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington.  Seldom when I walked was I passed by a rider who did not announce he/she was passing from behind.  Both the metro eastside area of Bellevue and Redmond and the Portland metro area are considered bike riding capitals.  They offer great places to ride (and walk) because of the well planned and paved pathways.  Being used to this courtesy (and safety) announcement and using it myself when I ride, I have been disappointed by the lack of this behavior, at least in Greenway Park.

So for any of you readers anywhere who may also be cyclists, I hope you will consider the safe riding behavior of announcing yourself to walkers on your path.  Pass the thought on to other riders you know.  Thanks!

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