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Hey Wash Cycle. The nice fall weather over the past few days has meant crowded bike trails and paths. I was wondering if you could post some trail etiquette (for bikers and runners) to keep us all sane as we share the trail.


Speaking of which, there was an accident on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda yesterday evening around 5:30, between Dorset Ave and the River Rd bridge. All I saw was the ambulance preparing to leave and some blood on the pavement, so I don't know what happened and who was involved, or whether good manners might have prevented it.

DaveS's quick guide to trail etiquette:

Be kind, and always remember that for better or worse you are not alone.

The Special Olympics bike ride on the unopened segment of the ICC is a good cause and a nice opportunity to ride the ICC alignment on a bike. Of course, we would have the opportunity every day if the bike trail had been completed as originally promised.


Here are some guidelines that I try to follow and hope others do as well:

1) Walk/run no more than 2 abreast.
2) Walk/run as far right as possible. Avoid the center line.
3) To reverse direction step off the trail to the right, look both ways then continue. NO U-TURNS!
4) At dusk be sure you are wearing bright, reflective clothing.
5) Don't use the trail at night - it is closed except for commuting users.

1) Keep your dog on a short lease.
2) Train your dog to always stay to the outside edge.
3) If you dog has a tendency to lunge at passing people - don't use the trail.

1) Moderate your speed according to congestion on the trail.
2) Slow down when passing. If the person you are passing makes a sudden unexpected maneuver you will have more time to avoid a collision.
3) Use a *BELL* well in advance of passing. A voice is not easily heard - especially by other cyclists.
4) Wait your turn to pass slower moving cyclists.
5) DO NOT PASS INTO THE FACE OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC. The trail is only 10 feet wide. There is NO, repeat NO middle lane.
6) Only pass by moving to the extreme opposite side of the trail in order to give the person you are passing the maximum clearance. This also provides a safety margin should the person suddenly turn or veer.
7) Do not pass on blind corners. Note - the trail center line needs to be repainted. I think it would help if a solid line were used in some places.
8) Do not draft or form ad hoc pace lines. Every cyclist needs to be able to see clearly ahead at all times. The trail is no place for the peloton.
9) At night use a light - but only on its dimmest setting. Blinding oncoming cyclists creates a serious hazard for them and for you.

Jeff, nice list. I would just say that people don't need to walk/ride/whatever "as far right as possible," though. As you have noted, the trail is narrow, but people should at least be allowed to use their half of the trail. When you urge pedestrians to walk as far to the right as possible, you sound like motorists telling cyclists to right as far right as possible, which we all know is not very safe or comfortable.

Oh dear - last thing I would want is to sound like a motorist :).

Perhaps this is less severe:
2) Walk/run towards the right as practicable. Avoid the center line.

Informal drafting is fine for commuting times, if it's cool with everybody and the lead rider gives signals.

@Nancy, @JeffB,

Looking over the list, it occurs to me that if drivers gave 1/100th of the consideration to more vulnerable users on roads that cyclists do to more vulnerable users on multi-use paths, the world of bike commuting would be a much nicer place.

For all their "arrogance and entitlement" cyclists in general *don't* have an expectation that pedestrians or joggers will stay the Hell out of their way, and that any collision is the fault of folks on foot because they weren't staying far enough right, walking two-abreast, wearing flashing red lights on their butts, or some other ginned up crime.

Thanks for all the great etiquette tips! I was particularly interested in the tips about passing slower cyclists and runners. This is where I have observed the most “violation” of the etiquette rules – particularly #5.

Ditto on the #5. Riding on the CCT on a warm spring day is more dangerous than climbing out of Georgetown on Wisconsin Ave. during rush hour.

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