Yesterday evening, I took the Little Man to the park and, as we always do, we walked there along the bike paths that go through Bluemont Park in Arlington. Most of the time, walking on the bike paths is no problem, the cyclists are exceptionally good at keeping an eye out for pedestrians and vice versa. They will shout, “On your left!” or ring a bell well in advance of their approach and all I have to do is lift an arm in acknowledgement to let them know I heard them. But last night was an exception.
The trails were busy with both bike and pedestrian traffic and on three separate occasions, I saw cyclists behaving badly. The first time, I saw a cyclist nearly crack up because he wasn’t looking where he was going. Instead, he’d turned his head to yell at a little girl, 8 or 9 years old I’d guess, who wasn’t wearing a helmet. Granted, this is a bad idea, but it is an equally bad idea to not look where you are going to yell at the little girl to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is good, but not looking where you are going (to say nothing of frightening a little girl you don’t know) is bad form and nearly cost this biker an injury.
Next, where the trail dips below Carlin Springs road, one biker had to slam on his brakes because there was a fairly large group of pedestrians walking (on the right, as they should) and other bikes coming the opposite direction. Slamming on the brakes is not so bad, although you’d think he would know better on that particular part of the trail. What was bad was his outburst, “Come on! Move out of the way!” which was completely uncalled for.
A short while later, there was a similar incident, this time with a woman riding a bike. She was coming up behind us as a jogger was passing to our left. She shouted, “On your left”, but still had to move over further than she’d have liked since the jogger was passing us. So she shouted again, “Move over! On your left!” and zipped by us. I take it she was annoyed that maybe we didn’t hear her, or that there was a jogger passing or both, but I noted that she had white ear buds in her ears so who knows what she could or couldn’t hear herself. And besides, it’s a multi-use trail and cyclists don’t own it. But last night they were acting like they did.
So I offer some simple advice that should keep everyone happy, a philosophy I borrow from Wil Wheaton:
Follow this rule, cyclists and pedestrians alike and we’ll all be happier.