Stapleton boasts more than 36 trail miles. This commitment to making the outdoors accessible to urban dwellers is one of the reasons for the community’s popularity. However, as a daily user of those trails, I frequently encounter individuals who appear to be unfamiliar with conventional trail etiquette. Generally, it seems to be the walkers who don’t understand the conventions. When there is confusion, it can lead to collisions or confrontations. To minimize injury and irritation, here are some suggestions.
- Just as there are rules of the road for drivers, there are conventions that govern walking, cycling, skiing, or horseback riding on shared trails. Unfortunately, many users may simply not be aware of these conventions. For those who may be unfamiliar with trail etiquette, here are the basics (and these apply to mountains or cities):
- Walk on the right (it’s just like driving in the USA). This allows faster walkers, joggers and cyclists to pass safely (and uniformly) on the left.
- Pass on the left. When you are passing on the left, if you think the person you are overtaking may be unaware of your presence, politely announce yourself by saying, “On your left,” or using your bicycle bell.
- Leash your dog. If you are walking your dog, the proper way to walk it is on your left. That means that the dog will be on the pavement, close to the person or cyclist walking the opposite direction; therefore, dog owners need to be alert so as not to have the dog or leash trip (or nip) the oncoming pedestrian/cyclist. It’s perfectly reasonable to switch your pet to walking on the right or to step off the trail in these cases. Or, if your dog is a “tenderfoot,” and you want to keep it on a left-sided leash but on the grass, please don’t walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Step off onto the grass along with your dog. You are a hazard when you stand or walk on the left.
- In places where the trail is narrow, move off the trail if you are going to yield or stop.
- When walking in a group, remind the others that single file is best, so that others can safely pass on the left. If you want to walk abreast of each other, be alert to others approaching from behind or in front. A group should not force a solo walker or cyclist off the trail.
These are very simple guidelines to follow. For more detailed suggestions on yielding to uphill/downhill hikers and horses and other types of trail users, you can find information at The Hiking Dude www.hikingdude.com/hiking-etiquette.php or REI http://blog.rei.com/hike/trail-etiquette-who-has-the-right-of-way/.
When the conventions are not followed, it causes difficulty for other trail users. Make yourself memorable as a conscientious trail user, not as someone who caused injury, collision, or confrontation. Let’s all continue to make this a safe, healthy, and enjoyable community!
—Sharon Cairns Mann
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