Etiquette on Multi-Use Paths
Now that summer is out and outdoor recreating is in (not that it was ever "out"), we find multi-use paths packed with walkers, runners, bikers, starting-to-bikers, toddlers, roller-bladers, skateboarders, dogs, squirrels, birds, and many other users. There are clusters of middle- and high-schoolers, there are amblers with headphones on, there are darting animals, children. Bodies travel at different paces - fast, slow, medium, stopped. On a warm weekend day, the multi-use path can be an obstacle course.
Even the widest of paths aren't as wide as a car lane (11-12 feet across). More typically, the path might be 7 or 8 feet across, just enough for two way cross traffic in single file. Collisions and brushes with others can be frequent if you are walking/riding/skuuting 2+ abreast. Weaving in and out of bodies takes skill, whether on foot or wheels.
How do we encourage the kids to "share the path" responsibly, reasonable? My tips include:
- walk/ride to the right, always.
- 2+ abreast is ok, so long as there is no oncoming traffic
- "single file!" is what I utter loudly when we spot oncoming traffic, and my kids immediately pull ahead of me and I drop to the rear position, and we will go in single file to allow enough width for passing
- use the bell! whether on a scooter, bike, jogger: we ring, ring from a distance behind and call "on your left" as we pass
- ride straight, as much as possible, unless you are on a super-wide path.
- for the learning pedalers, learning scooters: walk/ride behind, to be able to call out and ask the little ones ahead to stop, pull to the side, or ride as straight as possible.
- be defensive. as with driving, we have to anticipate the unexpected: a dog on a long leash speeding ahead crosswise along the path, leash obstructing; a toddler darting out from one side of the path to the other, maybe chasing a leaf, squirrel, bird; an early bike-rider swerving considerably as you try to overtake/pass.
With a few close calls in just the past couple of days, I thought I'd collect your thoughts on how we can manage the multi-use paths safely, responsibly, and teach our kids to do the same?