Trail etiquette: What do you think of Cascade’s new anti-headphone signs?

Image from Cascade

Trail etiquette. Stay to the right, use voice or bell, slow down when passing, don’t use headphones, and on and on. There are certain guidelines that make shared use trails work better, and Cascade Bicycle Club is launching a campaign to highlight some of them.

In a lot of ways, our shared use spaces (like trails or bridge sidewalks) are essentially failures in design. Sure, they work well enough most the time, but the fact that we need all these rules just to make them function is a sign that there are critical design problems.

I mean, shouldn’t someone walking on the the Burke be allowed to listen to music if they want to? On one hand, I understand that it’s important to be able to hear people on bikes, and I understand that it’s frustrating to keep repeating “On your left” louder and louder until an oblivious person with headphones hears you. But it’s their space, too, and if they want to listen to music, then that’s their call.

Remember, “On your left” or ringing a bell is a courtesy and safety call, not a “Get the hell out of my way” call. If you are using it to move people from your path without slowing down, then you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, our trails are wonderful happy places, and I love them. But thinking long-term, it’s clear that we are outgrowing them quickly (in other words, they don’t “scale”). In 2016, thousands of people headed to and from the new UW Station will be added to the busiest section of the Burke-Gilman Trail. And if the number of people biking continues to grow in the neighborhood of 20 percent every year, well, you see the problem.

Here’s an email I received recently (I’ve received several talking about similar issues):

I’m going to admit to reading your blog because I was googling “bicycle aggression seattle.” Today I was hit by a cyclist on the Fremont bridge. To be fair, I lifted my hand up and told him to slow down, and he slammed into my hand. I practice yoga, so my wrist is fine. I told the cyclist to slow down because I had nearly been hit by a different cyclist coming from behind me. Even other bicyclists told both aggressive cyclists to slow down. This happened in the span of one minute, which is unusual on the bridge, but not entirely unlikely.

I’m horribly frustrated by the situation on the Fremont bridge. I might use the bridge four times a day on foot, and it’s rare not to experience an inconsiderate cyclist going too fast, not using either a bell or a call-out. And aggressive cyclists are hardly unusual.

I suspect that you are among the many responsible bicyclists that I experience every day, whether I’m on foot or in my car, or on my bike. Here’s what I would like from you, and other bicycle bloggers. I’d like you to acknowledge that this exists, that aggression from cyclists occurs and that people are endangered by it. If the cyclist who hit me had hit more than my hand, I would have had serious head trauma, and I think he intended to do me bodily harm when he hit me.

My son is changing schools this fall. It was my hope that he and I would bike to his school. The aggressive cyclists that we meet on the Fremont bridge are a real concern because we would have to cross that bridge.

Obviously, our bridges need help. The Fremont Bridge is an issue, and the Ballard Bridge is a disaster. The shared spaces are simply too skinny for the volumes of people using them. It’s a recipe for conflict (especially if you throw a few jerks into the mix). The Ballard Bridge is a top priority for bike advocates, and the city is studying their options. The Fremont Bridge is unlikely to see changes in the near future, so maybe an education campaign there would be useful (signs that read “Pass Slowly” or something? Do you have any thoughts?)

For trails, the long-term solution is more all-ages and abilities bike facilities in more places. Right now, the Burke is doing some incredible heavy lifting as a key recreational and commuter route for people on foot and bike. But a lot of those trips would be shorter and easier using other routes if those routes were designed to appeal to trail users. That means neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes.

Part of being a “liveable city” is creating spaces where people can be themselves comfortably. That means the ability to bike wherever you need to go, but it also means the ability to listen to music when you walk down the trail or to stop in the middle of the historic Fremont Bridge to take a photo of a friend.

This entry was posted in news and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to Trail etiquette: What do you think of Cascade’s new anti-headphone signs?

  1. Brian says:

    IMO, the messaging on the signs is vague. Could be more concise. I like the goals, though. If the club wants to do additional signs, perhaps one discouraging cell phone usage would help (i.e. pull your bike to the side, get out of traffic).

  2. Courtney says:

    Not to sound like a mom, but respect is just a general rule of thumb. It’s shared space. Everyone’s trying to get where they’re going. Anyone with wheels is automatically going to get their first (bikes, cars, scooters, skateboards, etc.), especially in comparison to someone walking. So, does it really have to be a race over areas that are shared with peds?

    Is it so hard to slow down on areas where the path narrows, or across the bridge. Or, my biggest pet peeve, on Mercer going under Aurora?

    Respect on all sides would go along way.

  3. Pingback: Trail etiquette: What do you think of Cascade's … – Seattle Bike Blog | Bicycle News

  4. Mike says:

    One of the biggest issues I have is that many people don’t know they are supposed to stay to the right. A simple stripe down the middle (so it looks like a road) would go a long ways in making this more clear.

  5. Conrad says:

    Courtney, its not just Moms that should be respectful! The Fremont and Ballard bridges are just poor designs- bicycle traffic was not accounted for when they were built. So bicycles either need to take a car lane (dangerous on the Fremont bridge when it is wet because of the metal grating, and dangerous on the Ballard bridge no-matter-what) or use the pedestrian space and be cautious and respectful of pedestrians because it is, after all, a sidewalk.
    Personally, I choose not to wear headphones when I ride. One, for safety. And two, riding is already enough of a sensory pleasure that listening to headphones at the same time would only detract from the experience. But its a personal preference and refraining shouldn’t be enforced. I think the risk of using headphones is directly proportional to the weight of your vehicle: a terrible idea when driving a car, not so good when riding a bike, and really just a matter of preference if you’re walking.

  6. Ken says:

    “No headphones” signs are a little bit narc-ey…

  7. Scott Tallman says:

    Despite Cascade’s best intentions, I highly doubt the signage will have any impact in altering people’s behaviors on the BGT or anywhere else. The only thing that will enable cyclists, drivers and pedestrians to get along safely is that each and everyone of us pay attention to our surroundings at all times and exercise caution and discretion.

    I am by no means perfect, but I am constantly amazed at the sheer agression (and in many cases, stupidity) exhibited by many cars, bikes and pedestrians. No one wants to be distracted from what they are doing (driving/cycling/walking as fast as possible from point a to point b stop signs/lights and cross walks be damned, listening to tunes, talking to a group of people while biking/walking and taking up the entire path, etc.) to pay attention to what is happening around them and to look out for not only their safety but that of others.

    I live in Fremont and avoid riding and walking the bridge for the reasons discussed in your post. While I can appreciate the frustration exhibited by the woman in the email and have no reason to think she acted in an unsafe manner while walking on the bridge, I think it is imperative to note that it is not only aggressive cyclists that make the bridge unsafe. I’ve seen plenty of stupid acts by careless pedestrians on the bridge that almost injured cyclists and other pedestrians. It is unfair and counterproductive to malign any one group for the safety issues we all face on our shared travel corridors when it is not that simple. What we are facing are individuals using different modes of transportation, some of whom from each group are taking risks that impact the safety of others. I highly doubt that a person that is aggressive or acts recklessly when using one form of transportation is suddenly aware and cautious when using another form.

    Unfortunately, no amount of signage on the BGT or anywhere else is going to make people more aware of their surroundings and concerned about safety. Those that decide to ignore their surroundings at the expense of safety will continue to do so. As my boss always says when wrapping up a speech – “Be careful out there!”

  8. Eli says:

    Personally, I think the idea of cramming thousands of pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers and dogwalkers into a tiny space when there is as much as 40 mph difference in speed of the opposing vehicles makes about as much sense as this:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tulenheimo/7457513024/

    I’m glad the BGT shows the latent demand for active transportation in Seattle. We need way more 8-80 choices than cramming everyone who wants to walk or bike and who is safety-conscious onto a single, narrow facility.

  9. kommish says:

    I confess I don’t bother to “on your left” people who I can see are wearing headphones. I just slow down and give them as much space as I can, ideally enough that they’d have to randomly throw themselves across the trail in order to get hit by me.

    And while the foot traffic on th BGT through UW is frustrating, I just figure it’s traffic like any other kind. I’ll have to slow down and be more careful and be a little bored, just like traffic on I-5. And slowly pedaling through traffic on my bike is still infinitely preferable to sitting in traffic in my car, always.

  10. basketlover says:

    I moved off the BGT once the rains stopped. Car traffic is far more predictable and generally courteous towards the other road users. The BGT is a societal mess that will take more than non-recyclable signage.

  11. William C Bonner says:

    If a pedestrian were to raise their hand in front of me while I was riding past, I’d take that as an aggressive move in itself.

    I’m 6’2 and not small, so I’m quite conscious of how much space I take up, and how narrow some of the path pinch points can be. I usually call out passing warnings just so that hopefully the people I’m passing won’t freak out and fall over as I go past.

    As an auto driver, I try not to drive in leftmost lane unless I’m passing other vehicles. As either a walker or biker, I try to follow the same idea. My pet peve is bicyclists riding two abreast on the trail that I only see as three people wide.

  12. Eli says:

    Same here! If you want to ride like a maniac, be my guest, but don’t force me to share in YOUR risk.

    As an aside – I haven’t had time to take it on, but I’ve wanted to start a “Don’t be a jerk on the Burke” website for a while now, where people can upload cam footage of the worst jerk behavior they experience while riding on the Burke.

    The goal would be to both to reduce the ability for cyclists do things that are dangerous to others in an anonymous and non-accountable fashion, and also to help reinforce proper safety and etiquette on the trails.

    Maybe next summer?

  13. JAT says:

    Well made points – particularly about the scalability (yes I’m rolling my eyes heavenward, but it is the right way to be thinking of this…) of a multi-use trail.

    I remember when the B-G was put in (yes, really) and it made getting through the U-District so much easier and pleasant, but I had occasion last year to cycle through there and the volume of meandering be-ear-budded pedestrian traffic blew my mind.

    It’s been said that music is a legal performance enhancing drug for runners, and there’s not a chance in hell we’re going to get the headphones off. We can only hope that the advantages of a culture of cooperation and predictable traffic behavior will outweigh the allure of me-first as-fast/aggressive or meandering/random as I wanna be – use of our public byways… (on second thought we’re doomed)

    By the way, with all respect to the threatened letter writer from the Fremont Bridge, I think there’s a distinction to be made between “aggressive” – Assertive, bold, and energetic, and “aggression” – The act of initiating hostilities or invasion when it comes to cycling (unless you’re Jens Voigt)

  14. leo says:

    Mmm, I prefer a more direct approach, to leave no doubt in their minds….
    Headphone users will be pulled off their bikes and have their ears filled with molten lead ,sounds a bit more trail friendly to me. At least it’s quite clear.

  15. JAT says:

    Brilliant cartoon – thanks!

  16. Jesse says:

    Those signs are the most passive aggressive things I’ve seen in a long time. If you want to get people to stop doing something, tell them so in clear and concise language. “Wearing headphones increases chances of injury,” or something…”can you hear the birds” makes me want to say, “yeah, and?” or “Nope, and?”

    Personally, I’m with whoever said they don’t announce when they can see headphones in use, I just don’t want to get horse announcing myself when I know perfectly well the person can’t hear me. That said, I find myself having issues with other bikers just about as often as pedestrians when on the BGT. Just this morning I encountered a guy swerving back and forth from one trail edge to the other while singing along to his music (I certainly hope there was actually music coming from the headphones he had on). I tried to announce myself 3x and then timed my passing for when he was all the way on the right to avoid being taken out…

    Bottom line – be courteous, announce yourself when it’ll have an affect, and slow down when it’s called for. I don’t get the paceline attitude on the BGT, or ever for that matter – but maybe that’s just me. Oh, and for reference I walk the trail just about as much as I ride it.

  17. Al Dimond says:

    I hate to be that guy, but… if you’re wearing headphones while you’re running or biking in this city anywhere other than a treadmill or stationary bike you’re a god-damned moron. If you’re standing on a bike path having a conversation you’re an obstruction. Use some common sense, you’re not the only person on the trail. Of course, this goes equally for speeding cyclists. Riding fast on the bridges? Use the street lanes (when the metal grating is dry it’s perfectly safe, even with skinny tires — in Chicago they paint bike lanes right on the stuff — all you have to do is keep your weight balanced and your movements gradual, and if you don’t have the bike handling skills to do that you certainly shouldn’t be weaving fast around pedestrians on a bridge sidewalk)!

    And if any headphone wearers, giant pack walkers, three-abreast cyclists, stop-and-talkers, etc., think cyclists on the Burke are aggressive they’re welcome to go down in the traffic lanes Pacific St., do those things there and see what the drivers do. Again, that goes equally for aggressive cyclists: try dodging around traffic like a maniac down on Pacific and see how far it gets you — UWMC is right around the corner. Just about all the users of a space like the BGT are lucky to have it we all benefit from it. More so if we keep others’ needs in mind as well as our own.

  18. Maria says:

    I don’t bother to “on your left” ANYONE unless I actually want them to randomly throw themselves across the trail (and/or freeze in place & puff their arms out to make themselves look big).

    I’ve elicited enough weird, hazardous startle responses from pedestrians that I think the courtesy bell is in many circumstances a bad habit. If the space is so narrow that the person really needs to know that I’m there so they don’t drift into my path, then yes, I slow down enough so I can stop if they drift, and give them a warning so that they can provide me the courtesy of moving over to let me by. Otherwise, I just give a wide berth and ride on.

  19. Jeff Dubrule says:

    With my skinny-tire (700×23 slicks) road bike, the Montlake bridge grate is incredibly uncomfortable to ride on. Now that I picked up a cruiser with 700×36 treaded tires, maybe i’ll give it another go. I’d love to avoid the pedestrian, bridge-support, and opposite-direction-cyclist obstacle course that it is, currently.

    • William C Bonner says:

      I find speed limit signs a joke. I have no way of knowing how fast I’m going on my bike, unless I’m on a city street and can guess by how fast the cars are around me. As long as we don’t have requirements of speedometers, speed limits are very hard to enforce.

  20. JACK says:

    It’s a start. Gentle but direct.

    I’d like to see more speed limit signs along the BGT around the UW. Folks go way to fast through there, and it makes us all look bad.

  21. Bob S. says:

    There is no speed limit on the BGT.

  22. Orv says:

    The headphone users actually concern me less than the cell phone talkers. It seems to be impossible for people to talk (much less text) on a cell phone and walk in a straight line at the same time.

    The people with extendable dog-leashes who let their dogs stretch them across the trail deserve a particular place in hell, too. Those leashes ought not to be allowed as a dog that’s on one is not really under the walker’s control.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Hell is a bit harsh for that. It might not be immediately obvious how dangerous an uncontrolled dog leash can be on a trail. I wonder if one of Cascade’s other signs in this series (they have several in the works) will address that.

  23. Orv says:

    I would HOPE it would be obvious to everyone that it’s a bad idea to stretch a thin cord across a trail that other people are also using, but point taken. I’ve alway assumed it’s part of the oblivious “my pet is the center of the universe” attitude that so many dog owners seem to have.

  24. Ints says:

    The BGT is not for racing, it is a multi-use trail for cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, etc. In areas of heavy mixed-mode use everybody needs to exercise restraint, use common sense, show some courtesy, and try to be understanding of those who are not as restrained, sensible, courteous or understanding as you are.
    If cyclists want to go fast they should ride in travel lanes on roads with the other faster traffic. Same deal with bridges. Just get some wider tires and you will find both life and cycling much easier and more comfortable.
    Not that they use it but north of Matthews Beach faster cyclists are given the option of an on street route.
    Speed bumps or “bump outs” should be used in the appropriate locations on the BGT to slow cyclists down to a safe speed just as they are used on streets to slow motorized vehicles. near intersections and crosswalks where on-street traffic mixes with all of the BGT users is one type of location that comes to mind.
    A cyclist is still a person in control (or not) of a vehicle and if people are not able to act responsibly on a street in a car there is no reason to expect them to behave differently on a bike on the BGT.

  25. pmpolivka says:

    Determining whether people can or can’t listen to music might be a bit of a moot point. Since people can operate cell phones hands-free you’ll have people with earbuds in no mater what to send/receive calls if they’d like.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I ride with earbuds in most of the time and, it’s really crazy, but I can still hear the world around me. It’s not blasting out so it does little more that cover the rhythmic ticking of my drivetrain and other low level ambient noise. When people say “On your left” I pick it out better because it comes from a different direction than the music, coming from a very specific direction, opposed to if I didn’t have music on and got ambient noise from every direction – your hearing picks out what doesn’t belong there.

    People don’t want the get horse dealing with others with earbuds? Sorry, but get a bell. If I get a pedestrian in a conversation on the phone or with another pedestrian I find I need to use the same volume to alert them as someone with earbuds. I’ve asked other cyclists with ultralight bikes why they didn’t signal people they had passes and got the horse voice response. Then I ask about a bell and get “It adds too much unnecessary weight…… Really? You’re commuting/recreating and if you’re training a little extra weight might be good for you.

    Speed-bumps are impractical here with the number of wheelchairs, strollers, and odd roller skier. Also, they tend not to work. More and more studies find that people “punch it” between speed-bumps to make up for slowing down, making the area more dangerous. Bumps would have any effect on people cruising mountain bikes and could inspire people to start jumping them.

    The entire trail doesn’t have a limit that I know of, but sections do and signs are posted.

    Yeah there are jerks out there, but as many have said already, they use all forms of transportation. I like that Cascade is doing something but not the form it’s in now. I’d like to see them work with the cities/counties to post more permanent yellow/black caution signs noting speed limits (or recommended speeds), “Keep right except to pass”, and some more creative ones like Colorado State Patrol.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=433752696665898&set=a.396381853736316.80700.175549609152876&type=1&theater

    Maybe “Ride single file”, “Peds, leave space for cyclists” with an anti four abreast image and one with one or two pedestrians and a bicycles. For the original topic of the post, have an image of pedestrian/cyclist with headphones and others without read “You don’t hear them, do they hear you?” Even toss in one with the retractable leash across the trail.

    I’d like to see more bike cops patrolling the Burke for reckless acts, rather than ticketing flashing crosswalks and not putting your foot down….

  26. Beno says:

    I second the ‘extendable-leash’ resentment! I have no problem with an extended leash if you’re in an area with no-one else around (such as a hiking trail). But, on the Burke, at Greenlake or any populated area – for the love-of-god – RETRACT YOUR DOG! You are walking IT – not, vice-versa…

  27. Nate says:

    Here are my two cents. I like to ride my road bike. I like to ride fast, with headphones. I try to be safe. When I ride the Burke-Gilman, I slow down for pedestrians and slow riders. If someone has headphones or cell phone, I am extra-cautious. I say on-your-left to almost everyone I pass, unless I think there is no chance of contact and saying it would only increase the risk of accident. I say it in a calm voice, and likely twice- once to warn I am behind them and a second time right before I pass. I have never had an accidents in 15 years of riding the trail.

    I know some will object to me riding fast with headphones on the trail, but it is safer for all than trying to compete with cars in traffic. I have been hit by cars (no headphones) thrice.

  28. These signs are part of a series. Come check out the entire series at the Energizer Station tomorrow on the Burke-Gilman Trail between Brooklyn and University from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

  29. McLovin says:

    I would rather the message be about how completely disrespectful and distracting it is to be S-T-R-O-B-I-N-G your headlight at oncoming riders, ON A TRAIL.

  30. Michael says:

    The signs are as tedious as message board bickering about whether headphones (and those who wear them) are evil. I was just noting how nice it is that this topic hasn’t been raised for quite some time on the Cascade message board, so I was disappointed to see this story as I haven’t yet been to the BG to see these signs first-hand.

    As both cyclist and pedestrian, I’ve had far more of my signals that I’m overtaking/passing ignored by those who do not wear headphones than by those who do. I think it’s a mistake to blame someone’s lack of reciprocal courtesy simply on the presence of headphones.

    I use music when I ride, either with earbuds or open-air Bluetooth speaker, and I am no more or less able to hear my surroundings with one or the other. But I also bring my courtesy and self-awareness when I ride, and I have had no such run-ins with fellow cyclists or pedestrians as those described.

    I do hope one of the signs in the series calls out the true issue here – nothing to do with earphones, everything to do with simple courtesy.

    Mp

  31. Ro says:

    I run on the Burke in Fremont almost every day, and am often taken by surprise by cyclists who do not use a bell or a call out to let me know they are behind me. I was nearly run down by one the other day because I slowed down in front of her. Had I known she was there, it wouldn’t have been a problem.
    It’s not hard to let people know you are coming up behind them.

  32. riverworld says:

    As an old-fogey runner, I have no love for bycicles. However, I think we’re missing the point. It’s situational awareness folks; one must be able to hear, see, and feel the environment to be safe. Whether it is in the mountains or on an urban trail, the earbud generation is just plain stupid when it comes to safety.

  33. Brian says:

    The King County code indicates the opposite. (Point your browser to http://your.kingcounty.gov/mkcc/clerk/code/10_Title_7.pdf)

    “7.12.295 Trail use.
    A. No person shall travel on a trail at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with others who are complying with the law and using reasonable care. Travel at speeds in excess of 15 miles per hour shall constitute in evidence a prima facie presumption that the person violated this section.”

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Within the Seattle city limits, the Burke is operated by Seattle parks and SDOT (and uw in places). So I’m not sure the king county trail rules apply exactly (but don’t quote me on that).

  34. John says:

    Bike riders need to slow down and deal with the reality of riding on a shared trail, just as they have to on roads with cars. Bike riders act like car drivers on the trail, with the same attitude that they own the road. The Cascade Bicycle Club signs only perpetuate this hostile attitude towards pedestrians

    • JetCityCobra says:

      As if any cyclist in Seattle shares the road with cars. Most of the time it seems cyclists have a 2 year old’s sensibility when it comes to sharing the road. It belongs solely to them. They’re happy to block entire lanes of traffic on busy streets rather than move out of the way. In other news, deaths of individuals while wearing earphones/buds/whatever have skyrocketed. The signs are a nice start, but until the police start pulling over these people wearing them while driving/cycling or running on public roads, the majority are just going to ignore them.

  35. ODB says:

    If going faster than 15 mph “shall constitute in evidence a prima facie presumption that the person violated this section,” then it sounds to me like this is a rebuttable presumption–i.e., you could show that under the circumstances, a speed in excess of 15 mph was “reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” In other words, traveling in excess of 15 mph is not necessarily a violation.

    On the other hand, just for reference, Cascade publishes guidelines for speeds on its organized rides as follows:
    http://www.cascade.org/EandR/Ride_Classifications.cfm
    Easy: Under 10 mph
    Leisurely: 10-12 mph
    Steady: 12-14 mph
    Moderate: 14-16 mph
    Brisk: 16-18 mph
    Strenuous: 18-21 mph
    Super Strenuous: 22+ mph

    This means that someone wanting ride at even a “brisk” pace, let alone a strenuous one (either for the sake of fitness, or just to avoid wasting time on a commute to work) is presumed to be in violation, no matter how vacant the trail may be. Even a “moderate” pace of 14-16 causes a presumptive violation if you exceed 15, even if the trail is bare, straight and dry and no pedestrian is in sight.

    I realize this thread is devoted to crowded trails, where slower speeds are needed, but I also think that the rules should be flexible enough to accommodate speeds that a reasonably healthy cyclist looking to derive a fitness benefit on the way to work will unavoidably achieve, or the time-efficiency and health benefits of bicycle commuting will be needlessly reduced.

  36. JAL says:

    if there’s road congestion, we just build another road. If there’s trail congestion, maybe it’s time to build another trail.

  37. Barb says:

    Although its a nice idea to try to nudge more courteous behavior, really, the signs are an eyesore/polluting the natural environment that you are bicycling to be able to enjoy. Moreover, I believe they need a marketing communications specialist to look over their copy before they go to the effort and expense of creating a campaign like this. “Can you HEAR the birds singing” is sidestepping the point of the signs — courtesy and safety — so much that the desired behavior will probably not occur.

  38. Elias says:

    People riding really fast on the trail (15+) should probably opt to ride instead on the road, if there’s congestion. As for headphones, I use the on occasion. I’m not really able to listen to birds and nature whizzing by. I’m breathing hard on a bicycle, which makes a fair bit of noise itself. So that doesn’t really make sense.

    Riders need to instead be better about signaling passing, passing at a safe distance and speed, and walkers need to keep pets on a short leash and not wander left across the trail. Other than that, not much to say.

  39. Peter Smith says:

    one of the best ways to injure or kill a pedestrian while on your bike is to ring your bell or yell, “On your left!”

    the answer, as always, is that we need separate paths for separate users.

    on MUPs, we need some new laws — actual laws — why not, they often work. in Texas, i got pulled over while driving once because when i passed a cop car who had pulled someone over, I didn’t slow down to 20 MPH below the speed limit and move over a lane (that’s what the cop said I had to do anyways) — we should demand the same from bikers on MUPs. i’m a huge bike fan and have no tolerance for anyone who decides places only need to be ‘walkable’ instead of ‘walkable and bikable’, nor for people who think bus rapid transit lanes are more important than bike rapid transit lanes, nor for people who think that walking and biking should not make up 90+% of transport trips every day everywhere around the world, and that’s why pedestrians should be given clear, explicit, legally-enforceable, socially-acceptable and enforceable priority on MUPs. cyclists on MUPS should be, like when on sidewalks, allowed only to ride as guests, and should be granted little to no wiggle room in terms of their allowable behavior. we should work to create a workable code — to the extent that it does not yet exist — and then propagate it among pedestrians and cyclists everywhere so that we all know what is expected of us. of course, the only reasonable option is the option that guarantees the most important transport mode in existence — walking — first/highest priority, with everyone who does it guaranteed complete safety, comfort, and dignity, without exception, no ifs/ands/buts, no ambiguity, no excuses.

    the headphone stuff is just completely asinine. makes about as much sense as not having an Idaho-type non-stop law.

    cycling orgs will never stop finding ways to hate on cyclists. it’s brilliant. and they’ll never stop trying to find ways to take the fun out of walking and cycling.

    i would understand the headphones-type signs if they were in the interest of trying to prevent robberies and sexual assaults and all that sort of thing — because being on secluded trails can be dangerous like that — but there’s really no other reason to not wear headphones — they increase the safety of both the people who use them and the people who do not use them.

    if someone started pointing at me, waving at me, telling me to ‘Stop’, they’d better have a very good reason, else they’re likely to get a barrage of “Who the flip do you think you are?”

    What’s wrong with people? Are you that guy? Don’t be that guy. Get a life instead. Do something. _Any_thing. Just don’t do _that_. Don’t be that guy.

  40. Jeff Dubrule says:

    On my road bike, on empty stretches of the BG, I tend to cruise around 18-20, but I recognize that I can’t do that in the UW segment, so I slow down until I’m out of there, then get back up to speed. If I’m taking the long way around to my Kirkland office, I have a smidge over 20 miles to go, and I’d like to get that done in less than 90 minutes, so I need to haul ass where I can.

  41. Claire says:

    If you’re beyond being a beginning cyclist, you shouldn’t use the BG for recreational riding. OK, maybe for a rainy day in February, when it’s deserted. Otherwise, we have plenty of decent roads to ride on. If you don’t feel safe on roads, take a road skills class.

    There’s no excuse for riding with earbuds. All you folks who ride with them, I’m sure you’re all really nice people, but this particular behavior of yours is not OK. Being a cyclist means you can not be as brain-dead as a motorist. We don’t molly-coddle you like we do motorists. You have to be more aware – not just your hearing, but all levels of awareness. When you wear earbuds, you’re endangering yourself and others.

    And an observation: people apparently are so afraid of their own consciousness that they want to blot it out with music. Riding a bike is actually an excellent place to observe how your ego mind works. Watch your stream of consciousness. Its monkey-chatter rattles on and on. Who is it that is “talking”? Who is observing? Which is the real you? Pedal and breathe. Pedal and breathe. Pedal and breathe.

  42. Careful rider says:

    As a diligent cyclist, I resent the implication that pedestrians are always right and riders are always wrong. Too many inattentive, thoughtless pedestrians treat the trails like they are the only one there. Wandering aimlessly, changing directions randomly and without warning, clustering in packs that block the whole trail, meandering down the left side into oncoming traffic, failing to control their dogs and/or kids (not to mention leaving dog poop on the trail). Completely rude. “Share the trail” means pedestrians too–they need to pay attention, leave room for others, and remember that they are out there with bladers, skaters, boarders, and cyclists. “Keep right except to pass” should be observed by all.

  43. whiteboyjeff says:

    Here’s a suggestion for bridges and trails. bike lane. pedestrian lane. done.
    have one side of the bridge for bikes and one side for peds.
    paint a line down the middle of the burke gilman one side for bikes one side walkers. I’m for the walkers personally. I think bikes should be banned from busy city roads until there are laws in place protecting everybody involved. I’ve seen too many bikers break the laws which they seem to throw at the automobile drivers whenever there is an “incident”. and how does this make sense: traffic is heavy on a downtown street, a biker approaches a long line of cars from the rear and proceeds to scoot by all the cars stopped at the red light until they get top the very front and slow down traffic even more when that light turns green?! follow the laws that vehicles have to follow if you’re going to ride on the streets like a vehicle!! don’t ride your bike on sidewalks or in crosswalks either. If a biker uses a crosswalk they should dismount and walk it across. I think if biker’s demand that we “look out for them” that they be charged a licensing fee to ride downtown. city makes money, win-win. also, to attain a license they must pass a written test regarding biking laws and safety. I’ve never tried to injure a biker and i never would, but that being said, anybody that rides a flimsy bike amongst several 3,000 to 4,000 lbs hunks of metal travelling at moderate speeds are risking their lives no matter how safe the drivers of vehicles are trying to be. ACCIDENTS HAPPEN PEOPLE. be safe.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Have you ever ridden a bike downtown? Give it a shot, and I think you’ll understand why people do the things they do. You will also see that bikes are in no way the cause of downtown traffic (it’s too many cars in the same small space).

      Biking in a crosswalk and on sidewalks is legal.

      If a road is dangerous, the solution is to make it safe, not to ban bikes.

      Bike license systems attempted across the planet end up costing more to administer than they bring in. They do not work for many reasons.

  44. Mark Won says:

    If someone is walking to the far right side of the trail, and not changing their path, their headphone use will probably not be a problem.

    But too many trail users are in their own world. Apparently they think that they can turn off their brains and saunter or ride with zero awareness of other trail users. Headphones and music not only contribute to their zoning out, but make them impervious to warnings.

    People enter the trail, change direction, cross the trail, and pass without so much as a glance to see if anyone is coming. They tend to their babies in strollers in the middle of the trail on blind curves. They “hang out” in groups that fill both lanes.

    Do these folks behave the same way on city streets?

    Incidentally, I ride between Redmond and Ballard frequently. The U District is the most dangerous stretch, not due to numbers of trail users, but due to wholesale disregard of trail etiquette. Lots of “hanging out” with total disregard for people who are using the trail as a transportation corridor.

  45. Mark Won says:

    Separate bike and pedestrian lanes are a good idea, but the money and political will to make it happen are lacking.

    The BGT (plus Sammamish River Trail) are the closest thing to a freeway around the lake for bicycle commuters, and if anything pedestrians should be banned rather than bicycles. But it’s possible to live together.

    Whiteboyjeff sounds like many bicycle haters who are upset because bicyclists can frequently avoid some of the traffic congestion that motorists are forced to endure. I say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

    Try replacing car trips with bike trips. If nothing else, you will get some insight into why bicyclists ride the way they do (like why they might choose the traffic lane rather than the bike lane) and hopefully you will become informed about the laws, too (for instance, the bicycle use of sidewalks and crosswalks is perfectly legal).

  46. BiffNotZeem says:

    Wow! A large number of people responding to this blog (not to mention Cascade) are certainly a self-righteous bunch. “If you aren’t doing things the way that I like, you shouldn’t use the trail” seems to be the attitude.

    FWIW, with my headphones on, I can still hear what is going on around me.

    I also make way for other users of the trail that are traveling at a different pace than I am. People who don’t aren’t going to change that behavior because of some passive aggressive signs.

  47. AMS says:

    Thank you for your comment…I’ve biked for the majority of my life around Seattle and find it FAR more focusing for me to have music at the quietest setting in my earbuds and I hear EVERYTHING.

    Regardless of what someone is wearing/not wearing I make sure I announce EVERYTIME I pass- whether or not the person/people in front of me respond in kind is a show of the type of person they are…I’m not going to allow them to harsh my ride.

    Aside from the infrastructure issue- this comes down to manners, it shouldn’t matter where you are at- you need to pay attention to your surroundings and be polite…use those manners (which I’m instilling into my children as they learn to ride on the same trails).

    The retractable leashes are like riding along a bike patch placed next to parked cars…a pain in the ass that could really cause a bad accident….

  48. BiffNotZeem says:

    “You will also see that bikes are in no way the cause of downtown traffic (it’s too many cars in the same small space).”

    Actually, it is because Seattle drivers are pretty bad. It doesn’t take many to create a traffic jam.

    And no one in Seattle responsible for traffic management and road upgrades looks at the road network as a system. They keeping changing individual junctions or road sections seemingly without looking at what feeds into or out of the changed section, so they just move the bottlenecks in traffic.

    Off-topic, but the comment was begging a response.

  49. Scott Tallman says:

    The only things I agree with you on are the annoyance with cyclists scooting up between cars at lights and with bikers on the sidewalks. The latter mainly because from my experience people that ride on sidewalks tend to ride more recklessly than those on MUTs or the road.
    Let me ask you this – are you equally annoyed by smaller motorcycles that scoot up between cars at lights or weave in and out of traffic? If not, why not?

    When I cycle in traffic I act like a car and get in line unless there is a bike lane. I always considered that courteous, but apparently many drivers disagree as I’ve had plenty of them let me know that they don’t like the idea of a bike in front/behind them because it slows down traffic. Guess bikers just can’t please the drivers no matter what they do. Generally I can keep up with traffic in the city so seems like much ado about nothing to me. I always wonder if these drivers let their displeasures be known to other drivers that slow down trafffic.

    Quite presumptuous of you to insinuate that most bikers do not follow laws, yet all drivers do. The arguments that one group is good while the other is bad is getting old and is misinformed. While there are many scofflaw cyclists, there also many scofflaw drivers not to mention many pedestrians that can’t follow simple traffic signs or otherwise conduct themselves appropriately. There are bad apples in all three groups but let’s not damn an entire group due to the misdeeds of a few. I try not to let the bad apples sour my experiences with all the wonderful drivers, cyclists and pedestrians I encounter. Give it a try.

    I don’t know of any cyclists that are asking drivers to look out for them specifically. I think they are merely asking that you pay attention to your surroundings and drive cautiously and defensively to avoid injuring yourself, other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Sorry if that is too much to ask. I’d hope you ask that of yourself and others on our roads. If everyone was more cautions and aware, we’d have less “incidents.”

    I’d happily pay an annual cycling licensing fee (not one that merely grants me access to certain parts of town), take a written test, etc. just as I do for my car if I thought it would bring about better driver-cyclist relations. However, I am skeptical that these requirements would appease those that really just don’t want to share the road (which appears to include you).

  50. Tom Fucoloro says:

    I’m surprised this has not come up yet:

    http://rideons.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/an-ear-on-the-traffic/

    It’s a recent study suggesting that earbuds at a reasonable volume that are not noise-cancelling may be reasonably safe. Even with noise-cancelling earbuds, a person can hear significantly better than someone in a car (and if you have the radio on in a car, you really can’t hear anything).

  51. M says:

    I have almost been hit by bikes so many times in walking around Seattle that I stopped wearing headphones a few years back. Sad, because I used to love walking around the city listening to music. But you know, it’s still risky walking around Seattle now, so I stopped taking walks for exercise. I’m too afraid of being hit by a bike. Even on sidewalks, if I’m on one side and have to go to the other side I stop and turn, looking over my shoulder, in case a bike is coming along (as if I was car changing lanes). In the old days I would never thinking of doing that on the sidewalk. Now I feel I have to.

    “But too many trail users are in their own world. Apparently they think that they can turn off their brains and saunter or ride with zero awareness of other trail users. Headphones and music not only contribute to their zoning out, but make them impervious to warnings.”

    I think this might be a reflection of how in the old days you wouldn’t worry about a bike using the same sidewalk/path as you, so you would “zone out.” You, as a pedestrian, were only going to be surrounded by other pedestrians, not things going faster than you (until you crossed the street). When I grew up, you only saw children riding bikes on the sidewalk, not adults. And kids didn’t go very far, just around the block.

    Maybe elsewhere bikers say “on your right,” or left, or whatever, but not that I’ve seen on Capitol Hill. So I joined a gym to get my exercise now as I’m too nervous to walk. You couldn’t get me to walk one of our trails around here that pedestrians share with bikes.

    Another thing bikers should remember. I was downtown once, and a bike was heading right toward me, going through the red light. I should have been able to move easily, but the sight of her coming toward me made my legs lock. I had never had that happen before, and boy did that scare me. I desperately wanted to move, but I couldn’t. Fortunately she stopped a few inches from me, and then my legs relaxed and I could walk again. So, if that person isn’t getting out of your way, and you know they’ve seen you, it might be because they’re momentarily “frozen.”

  52. scott says:

    Classic problem of too many people sharing too small a space. Everyone grumbles and complains and points fingers but everyone more or less figures out how to do it. I suggest you go to Amsterdam sometime if you want to see speeding bicyclists share the road with hoards of pedestrians, and cars, and trolleys. It more or less works there. So either chill, or do as I did which was to decamp from Seattle and move to the country.

  53. Robot76 says:

    I would totally buy a “Don’t be a Jerk on the Burke” t-shirt. When I was in high school, a good friend’s dad was out jogging when he was struck by a bicyclist. He wound up in the hospital with a bad head injury and almost died. I’m a frequent cyclist, but I don’t consider the path my personal race track like some cyclists seem to. Especially this time of year, it seems like I narrowly miss a head-on collision at least once a week, especially from the spandex clones trying to pass or riding in giant packs going 20 mph during the rush-hour commute. Whether you’re behind the wheel of a car or a bike, you can change someone’s life in an instant. Slow down, Lance.

  54. JohnVidale says:

    Please remove those ugly pinks signs from the Burke-Gilman.

    They’re almost as deadly to leisure and enjoyment of an outing in nature as the similarly pedantic and patronizing signs about cancer that sprouted on the UW lawns a few months ago. We go to the BGT to ESCAPE billboards and a plethora of regulations.

    Try to enjoy yourself, rather than spend your efforts telling others how to behave, with no basis in law or common sense (and yes, I listen to earbuds, and no, I don’t feel reckless and haven’t had a bike accident in 30 years).

  55. M.J. says:

    Great conversation on this, and it clearly struck a nerve. I want to stress that the image Tom re-posted is *one* set in a series.

    We completely agree on courtesy from all users. It’s ALL our jobs to watch out and be mindful of each other’s safety on the trail, dog walkers, runners, people on bikes. Many folks out there are doing a great job at being courteous. Others, not so much. Sure, we can sit here on the internet and list all the bad apples (Jerks on the Burke!) we’ve ever seen. But rather than continuing the downward spiral of anger, finger-pointing and disrespect (what an ugly, counter-productive place to be), can work toward recognizing and respecting each other as humans and fellow trail users?

    If you’re around campus, come see the other signs in the pilot project later today: http://blog.cascade.org/2012/07/did-you-see-our-new-signs/

  56. AndrewN says:

    @JohnVidale, I agree. The signs should be removed. It’s too passive agressive and too much of an eyesore for the Burke. The last thing I want to see while I’m walking is nag about what I’m doing “wrong” but is safe (i.e., walking with headphones on.)

    Also, I have to question the legality of placing signs in the Burke-Gilman Trail Right-of-Way. (See SMC 23.55.012), as these are identified as Cascade Bicycle Club signs (not City).

  57. M.J. says:

    @Andrew, we worked with several jurisdictions (King County Parks and the University of Washington) for permission to post the signs. Also, they’re not permanent, and we’ll be moving them around.

  58. Spiffy says:

    just like the hands-free cell phone law implies that amputees are horrible drivers, this push against headphones implies that deaf people are dangerous…

    I don’t buy any of this type of BS…

  59. DNADave says:

    Actually, there is outside of Seattle. It is 15mph for those sections of the trail. Here’s a link with a description: http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/2010/08/27/is-there-a-speed-limit-for-bikes-on-the-burke-gilman-trail/

  60. Bob-o says:

    The rules are just fine. Nothing spoils a nature walk more than a bunch of folks blabbing into cell phones loudly or wandering oblivious to the surroundings.

    If you put headphones on to listen to something, that is fine, but walk/run in a straight line and understand you are still responsible for hearing the signal of approaching cyclists and others from behind as they pass you on the left.

  61. Eli says:

    So, I actually lived in Holland for a year. It feels like you may have a more common tourist perspective.

    Dutch infrastructure is about separation between modes where there are significant speed gaps. It works because there AREN’T Lance Armstrong-wannabees going 25 mph with inches of clearance from toddlers and seniors.

    Further, Dutch folks are seriously responsible legally for damage that they do on their bicycle to other individuals (e.g. I even carried bicyclist insurance as a resident.)

    There’s really no comparison.

  62. Edmonds cyclist says:

    Jeez, it’s not like we have a shortage of self-righteous, obsessively law abiding individuals in this town… so now we have to reinvigorate this tedious, age-old Seattle argument about which people suck the most (drivers! no, cyclists! no, it’s really the braindead pedestrians!) and which behavior should most immediately be outlawed, or law enforced, or scorned with our trademark passive aggressivity. What a collosal waste of time (and resources… yeah sorry Cascade, I know y’all have your agenda and have to do this but it just seems silly to me). This is America, and no matter how much Seattle may try, it’s not going to tame or subdue American culture and self-centered behavior. If you’re someone who’s up in arms about earbuds on pedestrians OR cyclists you’re really wasting a lot of energy and I hope it doesn’t give you an ulcer. The only way to deal with biking through places like BGT through the U District is taking what you learned in that defensive driving course you had to take after your first speeding ticket when you were 18 and reminding yourself ALWAYS to be aware of your surroundings, and be as prepared for the inattentive or rude pedestrian/cyclist/driver as possible. Do that, and you’ll be a lot happier, rather than constantly coming home with a list of stories about where, when and what pissed you off on the trail today.

  63. Burke Biker says:

    Yawn. Is this really what is boiling people’s crawfish? How about people take their energy and transfer it to something useful, like trying to find out why both of our Senators and Rep. McDermott voted for a transportation pork bill this summer that gutted federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure (you know, bike trails like the Burke), yet who all have failed to discuss this with the public or respond to constituents about this or demonstrate leadership on this. What happened and why did they let it happen. No, let’s keep the masses squabbling about distractions and yelling at each other, not at people who can actually do things to fund solutions but don’t. Carry on everyone.

  64. whiteboyjeff says:

    I’m sorry i don’t recall mentioning that bikes cause MORE traffic. Nor did i say that the roads are dangerous. Learn to read and comprehend what you read. The point i was trying to make is this: bikes vs. Cars/semis/buses/suvs doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who is going to win 100% of the time in a game of chicken. So if you choose to ride a bike amongst the metal monsters, don’t cry if you end up badly hurt or dead at the end of your day. you have choices and you chose, after being given all of the facts, to endanger your own life, the rest of us our just trying to make it to work on time, and in one piece, therefore we chose to surround ourselves with airbags and metal cages when travelling amongst other metal monsters.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      “travelling amongst other metal monsters”

      Sounds dangerous to me.

      I say we make the roads safe so that the people walking and biking around those “metal monsters” have the freedom to get around, too. And by doing so, those “metal monsters” won’t run into each other as much, either. It makes sense for everyone, you just have to be willing to embrace a little change.

  65. Mud Baby says:

    These obnoxiously colored signs are a cheap substitute for better designed, less intrusive signage that asks all trail users (including the lollygaggers who walk three abreast or insist on walking on the side of the trail against traffic) to stay to the right, painting reflective centerlines on trails to make them more usable on dark winter nights, or–even better–installing night lighting that would make local trails into actual 24/7 transportation corridors.

    It will take a culture shift to attain bike trail standards that are common in Europe, but the sooner we start will be not a moment too soon. Here’s news of a part of the world that is light years ahead of us with respect to trail usability and safety:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/world/europe/in-denmark-pedaling-to-work-on-a-superhighway.html?pagewanted=all

  66. kommish says:

    Exactly.

    And now I’m off to go write McDermott a letter.

  67. johnny walker says:

    Having walked across the Ballard Bridge twice a day I would say maybe half the bikers announce themselves in some way or another when coming up behind me.

    I appreciate those that do, many of the others look annoyed that the world doesn’t automatically defer to their superiority.

    I think you guys (the bike community) need to do a better job of shaming the agro types that make the rest of you look bad. As it is, it’s like the wild west and many seem above common courtesy or basic safety. Pedestrians, headphones or not don’t have eyes in the back of their head. All of you should announce yourselves until there’s enough infrastructure to support all of us. If you aren’t, your part of the problem.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I despise that term “the bike community,” as though anyone can control the actions of someone else just because they are using the same number of wheels. This post and nearly all of the comments here do, indeed, discourage rude biking as you describe. But that would be like me saying, “The driving community needs to do a better job of shaming speeders.”

      I would love to say that everyone on a bike reads this blog (and then does exactly what I say), but that’s not the case (yet).

  68. Trailcommuter says:

    Seems pretty simple to me, if people use their common sense then all is good, yeah I get frustrated riding through U/W but if I apply my basic rule all is good. The trail soon clears out so those of us with 20 miles commutes can crank it when it makes sense.
    When I see people with retractable leashes, and little kids on bikes, it’s no big deal to slow down and ring your bell, makes for good interval workout!
    Trail signage is not going to change any behaviour as people who don’t use common sense will not realize the sign is directed at them.

  69. kommish says:

    Gah. My reply was supposed to be to BurkeBiker’s post.

  70. Maria says:

    “paint a line down the middle of the burke gilman one side for bikes one side walkers”?

    There are sections of the BGT that already have this. It doesn’t work. A painted line isn’t a strong enough signal to overcome people’s deeply engrained “stay right” habits. Some people obey the paint, others obey common custom, it’s confusing and inefficient for everyone. What’s especially great is where the trail is supposed to be separated, but there’s no curb cut on the bike part of the path (cough cough 25th ave NE cough).

    See also: The physically separated pedestrian/bike sections of the BGT just east of Gasworks. I see plenty of walkers and joggers on the bike part – and who can blame them, the pedestrian path in that section is a piece of sidewalk right next to the street, while the trail is a wide, inviting space where you can look at boats and greenery instead of cars.

  71. Jeremiah says:

    It’s not a bikes vs. peds issue on the Fremont bridge or any trail in Seattle – it’s consideration of shared space that’s the issue for both parties, as well as experience in trail use.

    I ride a bike, usually very fast. If there’s a squeeze of folks on the trail ahead, I slow down for theirs and my safety – the fremont bridge is a perfect example of a place to slow down.

    I also prefer to give people a wide berth rather than use the bell or voice. I’ve found that inexperienced trail peds will often step left and swing their head right in my direction to see where the bell/voice is coming from! The experienced trail users will typically give a nice ‘thank you’ which I appreciated, but how do I tell the experienced from the non-experienced? Tough call!

    Hopefully more cyclists and peds will realize that it’s space we have to share, and if we’re all smart about it we can reduce the number of incidents.

  72. Brian says:

    Thanks Tom – I did not realize that. Although after I posted, I realized that the UW owns the Burke in the places where it passes through campus. I have never seen a UW police office in that portion of the trail, but I have seen Seattle police ticketing cyclists in the pocket park next to Brooklyn. I think they run stings in that area from time to time.

  73. Cathy Zylstra says:

    I think it might be safe enough having one ear plugged into music, but not two. You need to be able to hear the cyclists calling out.

    I am an avid cyclist myself and I have never met a more rude group of people than cyclist groups out for a ride. They refuse to ride in single file on the Burke Gilman Trail when other cyclists and persons are approaching them — they will ride 4 abreast and exceed 20 mph coming withing inches of senior citizens and disabled persons, and children as if they own the trail.

    How many of you have ridden in the STP? I have five times now. One of the last recent times I rode in the STP I was feeling irritated by some of the discourteous and illegal maneuvers committed by a great many cyclists. Stop signs and traffic lights mean nothing to many cyclists on that route from Seattle to Portland. On the two lane roads along the route, cyclists are not supposed to ride more than two abreast, and yet they take up the entire lane. One year, I witnessed a cyclist trying to pass such a group and was nearly hit head on by an oncoming vehicle.

    In 2009 or 2010 as I rode in the STP, I approached the City of Roy and saw numerous emergency vehicles standing by and assisting cyclists. We were ordered to dismount and walk our bikes through this area. I apologized for my fellow idiot cyclists and one of the Roy Fire Department employees told me that they were sick and tired of being called out that day because cyclists were not being more careful. I have never felt threatened by an aggressive motorist during the STP — but I have felt threatened many, many times by extremely aggressive and inconsiderate cyclists.

    It has gotten so bad that I decided to not ride in the STP this year.

  74. SB says:

    This is the kind of thing that made me stop paying dues for the Cascade bike club a while ago. What a waste. I ride these kind of trails regularly on my commute. Alki, not BGT, but it’s the same idea. All kinds of users are on the trail and that’s what it’s there for. Casual riders, kids learning to bike for the first time, skateboarders, rollerbladers, runners, walkers, commuters and recreators. When I ride on these kind of trails and I see people who aren’t paying attention all the time. That’s ok, it’s a trail, not I-5. If you are on a bike and are in that much of a hurry then don’t take the trail.

  75. JohnVidale says:

    The ludicrousness of these signs might be more clear if one considers a similar but more effective protocol.

    Safety would be more enhanced if talking were banned. Study after study shows that talking with companions undermines attention to surrounding traffic conditions. Much more than some background music. Silence! Listen to the birds! Looking at the scenery is another deadly diversion. No looking around! Just stare ahead and behind!

    Better still, build walls so there is nothing to see off to the side of trails, and sound walls so there are no diverting sounds like birds.

  76. Michael says:

    John Vidale’s solution, FTW!

    Pedal, breath, judge others. Pedal, breath, judge others. Ohhmmm…..

  77. Kevin says:

    This is a VERY simple issue! Nothing more complicated than driving a car. Why can’t people simply keep as far right as possible? If you are in a group of walkers, this means that you walk SINGLE FILE, and NOT in a group that takes up the width of the trail! Just simple traffic etiquette folks! And I’m not a bicyclist but a walker. What part of this do folks NOT understand?

  78. Hans Gerwitz says:

    Indeed. It seems like we can all agree that it’d be nice if everyone made an effort to share the trail, eh?

    I, too, ride with headphones. The original Apple earbuds, which rest in my ears but do not block the canal, so they don’t block the outside world. I settled on these because I found they reduce wind noise with my ears, arguably heightening my awareness at speed.

    I’m also one who likes to exceed 20mph because I’m out for the exercise. I slow for other people on foot, though, so prefer to use roads through popular sections. Last weekend I tried to follow the “fast cyclists bypass” signage, but it seems to only mean “get off the trail and figure it out yourself from there.”

    Can anyone offer bypass suggestions, particularly from UW and northward?

  79. Jeff K says:

    As long as you are in Seattle there is no speed limit. Other cities have a posted limit.

  80. Josh says:

    Oh… that’s what those signs are for. Saw several of them yesterday and had no idea what they were about. Maybe a more direct approach?

    The Burke is the worst for a cyclist on a sunny day trying to get some miles in but if you expect the families and bogs and conversations and headphones and meandering gazers, it takes the edge off. The BGT is what it is and, frankly, I’m glad it’s there as an option instead of nothing at all.

    Mixing cars and bikes is sub-optimal and mixing peds and bikes is sub-optimal but there is only so much real estate that can be used so we can’t all get exactly what we want. It’s just going to have to come down to respecting everyone’s space, being as courteous and alert as you can, and trying not to take it personally when someone does something that you don’t like.

  81. KS says:

    I use headphones with low volume because the wind that gets in my ears is louder without headphones than with. If not I have to turn my head sideways periodically to hear anything… even if a car is coming. I do not hear my music around traffic because it is too low and I always hear bells and voices… now that the wind is protected from my ears. Maybe I have ears that stick out more than most but I’m safer with my headphones on… or at least I can hear better.

  82. Catherine says:

    I’d be more impressed if the Cascade sponsored signs had all trail users included in the graphics. If the signs included in this article are representative, it appears to be the CBC telling the pedestrians how to behave. I don’t think that’s quite the message they want attributed to their name…

  83. Anne says:

    I want “Don’t be a jerk on the Burke” made into t-shirts and stickers. That’s brilliant! You need to get that website up ASAP. That is the best idea ever.

  84. Julia Moser says:

    As a legal pedestrian using the sidewalk on N. 45th, in front of the Guild 45th, I was hit in the back by a cyclist. The cyclist’s explanation was that she … “did not want to use the cyclist’s lane on N. 45th.”

    Since then, the “Greenway” on N. 44th has become a reality. I know: it is city living. That said, I’ve also seen cars VERY closely following cyclists on N. 44th. As a pedestrian, I do not feel safer with the Greenway: Greenway promotions notwithstanding.

    No one wants to safely share space: be it cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, buses. This newest busing development on N. 45th will be fascinating. I was also almost hit legally using a pedestrian crosswalk on N. 45th because … someone was just tired of waiting and decided to use the middle lane as a through-way. They missed me by less than half a foot. They didn’t even blink, let alone slow down.

    Be careful out there!

Comments are closed.