Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Can’t we all just get along?

Sorry to use such a cliché in the title of the post, but this morning I had a truly mystifying experience on the trail. I was out running with one of my intrepid running partners on this glorious spring morning. The trail was, naturally, quite busy despite the early hour. Walkers, runners, cyclists, all sharing one of the recreational jewels of the Northern Virginia suburbs. As we approached a choke point (a narrow bridge), we were passed on the left by a faster runner going at a pretty good clip as two other runners were coming the other way, who were about to be passed on their left by a cyclist. The cyclist had to weave around the runner who had just passed us and squeeze between the two sets of runners. Annoying, I understand, but not atypical of a day on the trail. But as he passed us, he muttered under his breath, "f***ing joggers!"

Was that really called for?

I know historically there has been animosity between cyclists and runners, as they all share tight quarters in an attempt to avoid the exhaust fumes and road crossings of street running. And I know there are lapses on both sides, as I have been nearly plowed down by cyclists who think they're training for the Tour de France and my then-two-year-old daughter nearly caused a three-bicycle pileup when she got away from me at a pitstop on the side of the trail and ran into oncoming traffic. But, please. A little civility could go a long way.


mom2zayna said...

Unfortunately this issue will never be resolved. There will always be elitist cyclists and runners who have no tolerance for families, slower runners, inexperienced cyclists, or walkers. Those personality types should try to stick to trails less traveled. They should stay clear of heavily trafficked trails used mostly by families. The only thing the rest of us can do is be as courteous as possible to one another - despite a few jerks.

On the other hand, we can all recall an experience or two where we were in the same "shoes" as your pissed off cyclist. Before I had a child (when I actually had time to ride my road bike) I had little tolerance for jogging strollers or walkers in large groups - but only those with no trail courtesy. I know this isn't the case with you and your buddies - so I'm definitely not talking about you all. But you have to remember that there are A LOT of people out there that don't understand the "safety rule" to stay far to the right on crowded trails - especially with kids. They have no clue that people passingn them will pass on their left. And they stop smack dab in the middle of a crowded trail on a busy weekend morning without thinking. I have actually witnessed bad bike crashes caused by a wandering child or person turning around in the middle of trail to change directions, or a roller blader coming to a sudden stop. It is scary. I have also seen parents with strollers suddenly stop without looking to pick up a toy or even feed their child right in the middle of the trail - or someone stopping to chat with a friend they haven't see in a while and completely blocking both lanes.

Because of these experiences I am EXTRA careful to pull completely off the trail if I need to stop - to file into a single file line on busy trails, etc. And, yes, I do preach this to others quite often.

The only answer is to help spread the word about safety, rules, and trail courtesy to everyone. Then we can all relax and enjoy the view!!

Kimberly said...

Good explanation Andrea.
I've been on both sides myself.
I actually just got back from vacation, too, and it seemed to put a whole world of things in perspective. I have decided everyone is tired and cranky. Tired, cranky, and time-limited. We are too tired to wait our turn. We have things to do and we need to get them done now before we move on to the next thing whether it is walking, running, driving, cycling, skiing, pushing a grocery cart...whatever. I think the best most of us can do is just deal with the crankies, and try to be less cranky ourselves...except in extreme cases. I once nearly got pushed off of a rock well by a father/daughter trail running team. It was a busy trail and completely ridiculous. Those people should have stones thrown at them. Just kidding. Those people should be told to slow down. Usually when I do that with cars...well, sometimes when I mutter it under my breath they hear me and realize the error of their ways. It is embarrassing for both of us, but it corrects the problem. Same thing for bikes. On those occasions I always realize I should have been kinder. When I am not so tired myself, I like to pretend everyone is crazy except me, so I have to handle them gently. You may be suprised how well it works!

jeanne said...

I saw that VERY same scenario play out a while back on the crescent trail here in d.c., except worse, the cyclist was coming down a big hill, trying to weave around the walkers, in between the runners coming towards him, misjudged, wiped out.

Speed isn't everything. But courtesy sure is! (And i mean that for EVERYONE inolved--I can't tell you how many times i see runners or walkers three abreast on a path that can only safely contain two...and then they will just stop!) i'm the leader of the cranky pack!