Last weekend, I hit the trail with my friend for a sunny afternoon ride. It was just a little 7-mile jaunt, and we rode at a relaxed pace, discussing the concert she attended the night before and my upcoming vacation. It was utterly blissful and completely rejuvenating.
When I got home, I put my helmet back on its hook and reflected on what made the experience so enjoyable. Sure, my company was fantastic, and the trail was in good condition. But the real secret to my pleasure cruise? My fellow trail users.
Nearly every interaction I had on the trail that day was based in respect and courtesy. People were using safe speeds and minding their pets. Everyone was staying to the right of the path and passing on the left. Folks gave an audible notice (either a ring of a bell or a gentle “on your left”) when they wanted to travel faster than our leisurely pace.
I remembered the two joggers who had mindfully scooted off the trail with their kid-filled strollers to chat. The dog walker who looked behind her before crossing the path jumped into my mind as an excellent example of being aware of one’s surroundings. I was overcome with an urge to yell “Thank you!” when a fellow bicyclist warned me about a pothole ahead. Smiles were far more common than scours, and it really felt like I was part of a community.
I’m not naïve enough to believe this is how everyone behaves on trails. Trust me—I’ve dealt with my fair share of trailside rudeness and blatant disrespect. I know that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies! But I also know that every time we hit our favorite pathway, we have the power to lead by example and create a trail culture we want to be a part of. Our actions and behavior impact everyone’s safety and trail experience.
That kind of behavior—fueled by courtesy, informed by respect, and keeping the big picture in mind—couldn’t be more important in today’s world. And that’s why RTC is proud to be launching our Share the Trail campaign!
A growing number of Americans are using their local trails for a variety of activities, from walking and running to biking, horseback riding and more. That’s why it’s imperative that we all pitch in and make sure we’re being considerate to our fellow trail users—ensuring fun, safe experiences for all.
To that end, here are six tips all of us should remember when we're out on the trail:
- Use Safe Speeds.
- Keep Right, Pass Left.
- Standing Still? Stand Aside.
- Mind Your Pets.
- Be Alert.
- Know and Follow the Rules.
Join me in taking the pledge to share the trail! Challenge yourself to make respect and courtesy the two guiding principles of your trail experience, and be a good example for everyone! Remember: We’re all in this together.