Sharing the Path

by permission from Ohio Bicycle Advisory Council

The Effective CyclingTM Notebook typically deals with the skills and knowledge necessary for bicycling on the road. This installment, however, focuses on recreational paths and trails, which have become quite popular with novice cyclists, families, and casual, recreational riders. As a result, trails have become very congested and safety is a major issue. Whether bicycling, walking, or jogging, if you follow the same rules as everyone else you will have a safer, more enjoyable time.

It is important to remember that trails have engineering and design limitations that require you to ride differently than you would on the road. If your preferred speed or style of cycling is inappropriate for trail riding, look for alternative routes better suited to your needs.

BE COURTEOUS. All trail users, including bicyclists, joggers, walkers, and wheelchair users, should be respectful of other users, regardless of their mode of travel, speed, or skill level.

GIVE AN AUDIBLE SIGNAL WHEN PASSING. Give a clear signal when passing. This signal may be a bell, horn or voice. Warn in advance so that you have time to maneuver if necessary. "Passing on your left" is the most common signal used to alert other users of your approach.

YIELD WHEN ENTERING and CROSSING OTHER TRAILS. When entering or crossing a trail at trail intersections, yield to traffic on the cross trail or road. This is often the most dangerous point on a trail.

KEEP RIGHT. Stay as close to the right side of the trail as is safe, except when passing another user.

PASS ON LEFT. Pass others, going your direction, on their left. Look ahead and behind to make sure the lane is clear before pulling out. Pass with ample separation. Do not move back to the right until safely passed. (Allow more distance than you think is needed.) Fast moving users are responsible for yielding to slower moving ones.

BE PREDICTABLE. Walk and ride straight. Indicate when you are turning. Warn other trail users of your intentions.

USE LIGHTS AT NIGHT. If the trail is open and you are using it between dusk and dawn you must be equipped with lights. Bikes need a white front light and a red rear light or reflector. Reflectors (or reflective clothing) are no help if there is no source of light.

DO NOT BLOCK THE TRAIL. When riding in a group, use no more than half the trail. Don't be a trail hog. On many trails with heavy use, this means that all users will need to stay single file. And if you stop to regroup, always do it off the trail.

NO ALCOHOL and DRUGS. On trails, as on the road, you often need to react quickly. Do not use the trail when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Not only is it unsafe, it is against the law to operate a bicycle when under the influence.

CLEAN UP LITTER. Do not leave glass, paper, cans, or any other debris along the trail. If you drop something, please pick it up and carry it until you find a litter receptacle. Go the extra milepack out more trash than you bring in.

Reprinted with permission from the Ohio Bicycle Advisory Council.

Reprinted from "Bicycle USA", magazine of the League of American Bicyclists, Nov/Dec 1994.
For more information about the League of American Bicyclists, visit their web site,, or e-mail them at

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