Cycling etiquette on shared paths

On a recent bike ride the behavior of some cyclists on shared paths has prompted me to make comment on my blog.

Cycling etiquette on shared pathsThe incident that occurred was relatively minor, and with some consideration, could easily have been avoided. However, only one slight divergence from any of the involved parties could have caused an accident.
Marion and I had ridden past some pedestrians on the path, having given them an audible warning that we were coming. Marion was in front and had moved over to the left of the path again, and just as I was about to move over another cyclist, who was riding substantially faster, passed the people walking on their right, and in slalom fashion, passed me on my left. This action left me totally startled, and he continued past Marion on her right, startling her as well. None of the 3 parties involved in the passing were aware of this cyclist coming from behind.

A shared path is available to pedestrians and cyclists and, in most cases I have come across, the pedestrian has the right of way over cyclists. The users of a shared path all travel at different speeds, the pedestrians are mainly walking, some are jogging while some cyclists are riding slowly and others riding at speed.

Our State Government (South Australia) has the following rules,

When riding on any path you must:

  • exercise due care and consideration for pedestrians and other users
  • give warning to pedestrians or other users of your approach, by sounding your bell or horn
  • keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle rider.

Specifically when using footpaths or shared paths you must:

  • give way to any pedestrians
  • keep to the left of the path unless it is impracticable to do so.

None of us sport a fashionable rear vision mirror while we are walking or cycling so the person who is approaching the slower person, I feel, has the responsibility to warn of their approach.

Most bikes are fitted with a bell, so ringing the bell or even a loud call until the person is aware of your presence behind them, and slowing down until you have safely passed, is always advised. Startling a walker or a slower cyclist can end in an unwanted collision.

I also cycle to work on a hybrid road bike, on which I travel considerable faster than my Beach Cruiser. Each morning I travel along a small section of shared pathway, I always sound my bell and slow as I pass people that are walking their dogs or just walking, and greet them good morning as I pass. I generally see the people I pass on a regular basis and I feel that being polite and giving them fair warning has been favourable for me in the long term.

One Reply to “Cycling etiquette on shared paths”

  1. Pingback: I wish… | The Diane Lee Project

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