Thanks to Covid 19, there’s no doubt that by now you’ve become exasperated by being inside your home. Before the weather changes, and we slip into the cold, dark winter, you should get some time out and about on your local outdoor trails. Dragging your depressed meat-sack body out for some fresh air can really help your overall well-being, but it’s important to follow proper trail etiquette. Here’s four tips to help you be the perfect trail hiker, biker, or pedestrian.
1. Respect People’s Space
Seriously, stay away from other people on the path. There’s no reason to close in on anyone else enjoying their time on the trail. You shouldn’t have been doing this before Covid 19, and you better not be doing it now. The minimum distance is six feet, but let’s call it an even twenty, just to be safe.
2. Announce Yourself
If you need to pass someone, proper trail etiquette is to announce your intention by saying “on your left.” Most often other path users have headphones in, so this message goes unheard and you simply scare whomever you’re passing. This isn’t good. To avoid unnecessary scares during this extra-scary time, try carrying an airhorn or megaphone the next time you venture out on the trails.
You’ll never be ignored again when you blast out your intentions followed up with a siren effect. Everyone will thank you for your courteous gesture.
3. Watch Your Speed
We’ve all encountered those speed racing road bikers who use every path they can find to work on their sprint times. Same goes for all the rollerbladers zipping between lanes. Now is seriously not the time for this. There are abandoned velodromes you could be haunting with your split times.
Anyone who has managed to get themselves out on a trail has accomplished a great feat, and they don’t need the added stress of possibly being run over. Plus, thanks to Covid, many trails are busier than normal, which means more people to navigate. If you’re trying to beat a PR on your bike, you’re going to end up playing chicken with other people on the path. Just slow down, it’s not that bad. Let’s say 5 mph, tops. That should work just fine.
4. Do not block the entire path to have a conversation.
So you’ve been out all morning enjoying a walk, following all other rules mentioned above, when you come across a neighborhood friend enjoying the same path. Now, seeing someone and being able to speak with them in person is an incredible treat in these times, so this might feel overwhelming at first. The surprise and joy might override your brain and force you to simply stop in your tracks to catch up. This is incorrect. Do not do this.
This is the worst thing anyone can do on a shared pathway. We’re all just out here trying to give people space and mind our own business while enjoying a brief respite from the horrors of our modern world, and you think it’s OK to block the path for a conversation with Mike? No, it is not OK. If there’s one rule to burn into your brain, it’s this one. People will smile as they pass by, but they’re actually cussing you out in their heads.
If and when you see a friend on the path, take a breath, remember your surroundings, and simply take a step off the pathway to talk. Then when everyone passes you, they will be singing your praises (in their heads) for showing such wonderful manners.