Thursday, May 26, 2011

Misadventures on the MUP

Last evening was a low point for me... I yelled at someone on the Minuteman Trail. I was cycling home after a ride, and the trail was more or less empty. I am normally ever-vigilant for dogwalkers and baby carriages suddenly appearing out of nowhere, but this time I had let down my guard. I was going faster than I normally do on the trail, when from around the bend, three cyclists - traveling three abreast and taking up the entire width of the path - came barreling toward me at a similarly unadvisable speed. They were chatting and the cyclist who was headed for a direct collision with me had her face turned toward her friends instead of looking ahead of her. Time froze and I kept expecting that any instant now she'd see me and get out of my line of travel, but she didn't. Not wanting to end up in the bushes or in a pile of bikes and limbs, my mind went blank and I heard myself scream "MOVE!" in a tone of voice that was so menacing that I even scared myself.

It got their attention and a collision was avoided. But as I continued on my way, I heard a distinct "and a nice day to you, too!" from the direction of their receding forms. I felt a wave of shame wash over me. Sure, in a perfect world I would have yelled "excuse me" or "watch out" instead. But I yelled the first thing that popped into my head, and if I didn't we could have both been in the hospital right now.

Multi Use Pathways can be difficult for cyclists precisely because of situations like this. The trails are narrow and those who travel along them do not always behave predictably. Joggers wearing sound-proof earphones, rollerbladers veering from side to side, dogwalkers brandishing those terrifying invisible leashes stretched across the path, unsupervised children making spontaneous U-turns on their tricycles... It's a jungle out there. If I could easily do so, I would avoid MUPs entirely, but the alternative route out of town is 10 miles on a very busy road. So I try to be cautious, stick to a moderate pace and hope for the best. How do you deal with MUPs?

97 comments:

  1. That reminds me of an incident I had last night on my way home where a lightless red light runner looked straight at me (and my flashing super-bright LED) and kept going. Instead of yelling the first thing that came to mind (not polite at all) I held my line. I won that game of chicken, likely because I am not a small guy, but I was not particularly proud of myself afterwards.

    As for multi-use paths, I try to slow down when there are crowds or when curves limit my visibility. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much to do besides be ready with an "excuse me" when slowing down for mid-path conversationalists blocking the entire pavement and a "Heads up!" for more urgent situations. I also happen to be able to avoid the busiest times for the paths (weekends and afternoons), but that's just the way my schedule works out.

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  2. here in San Francisco we have a very popular park called the Pan Handle which has a MUP on one side and a pedestrian only ( no bikes, skateboards etc) on the other. It would be so nice if people took the advantage of walking on one side bikes on the other but they insiti on clogging up the path with strollers, dogs, gaggles of tourists. I am all for sharing the road but these people are not paying attention, I have to remain hyper alert, and it is exhausting.

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  3. I have fitted bells to all my bikes and find that people react surprisingly swiftly to a well time "dring-dring" avoiding any possibility of a collision.

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  4. I also had and unfortunate encounter with a large dog on one little used riverside MUP. I was bowling along at a fairly swift pace and noticed a Camping Car parked at the side of the MUP with its door open. There was no sign of life until I passed the open door; this was hiding a large dog and its owner. The startled dog had its canines embedded in my right thigh before I had time to react. An early and painful end to that ride.
    Needless to say, I am more circumspect today.

    The dog danger for cyclists might be a good topic for a separate discussion.

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  5. I ring me bell. At times more than others.
    But then, I ride on paths the way I like cars to drive on roads.

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  6. I deal with MUPs by... not dealing with MUPs. I tried the Minuteman a few times, after seeing you write about it here so often, and I just don't find it pleasurable. I get less stressed out by biking on the road with cars than by constantly modulating my speed in the particular ways you have to on that path.

    Just past where the trail crosses Mass Ave, I usually switch to 2A instead (Summer St - Lowell St), then Woburn over back to Mass Ave just before Lexington.

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  7. Sometimes they are the safest path. The problem with your situation was not you, but the cyclist riding 3 wide on the trail. Just as they would be frustrated with someone in front of them or coming at them 3 wide, they should be mindful of unexpected traffic.

    At that point in the process, it doesn't really matter what you yell as long as it got one of them to move. You were in the right, they were in the wrong. should be no shame on your end!

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  8. Several years ago, my uncommonly vigorous 77-year-old mother and 79-year old father were cycling on an MUP and my mother was hit by an oncoming bike. Same situation as yours: a group riding three abreast, not paying any attention, traveling at excessive speed. Unfortunately, she was thrown to the ground and ended up with a broken hip. Fortunately, after surgery and some rehab, she was back on her bike in about six weeks and is now as good as new. In fact, she and my dad just finished a week's ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

    Anyway . . . I like MUPs for their lack of vehicular traffic, but between the pedestrians, dog-walkers (and dogs), roller-bladers, and, yes, careless cyclists, they can, as you note, be pretty dangerous. I always wear a helmet (no helmet debate, please), ride at a relatively leisurely pace, use my bell as needed, and try to be as vigilant as possible. If I want to go fast, I stick to the roads. For dogs, I carry Halt! I've been really lucky so far. The dogs that have come after me have been all bark and no bite. Scary, though, especially some of the bigger ones.

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  9. yup, i have seen all of that. sadly, the folks with headphones you can't give a heads up to, so I scoot around. i very rarely shout 'on your left' to people without headphones because then they go left ~ exactly what I don't want them to do. it can be challenging, but indeed these paths despite that are sometimes the best way to travel. keep calm carry on... :)

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  10. I actually go out of my way to go ON the minuteman. I love it, and the fact that i have to deal with a few other riders or roller bladers is fine if i don't have to deal with cars. A fair tradeoff, and at least these people can hear you when you yell.

    I use a little bell and i've found it to be mostly effective combined with a "on-your-left" as passing. I've never dealt with the situation you described, but in all my time riding (off hours, opposite commute), the biggest problem was the side-by-side stroller. then again, i used to be a stoller-pusher, so i can relate and don't get too worked up about it.

    glad you're safe, though.

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  11. Christopher FotosMay 26, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    Increasingly I deal by not using them. Close in, some trails on weekends are a Mad Max wonderland. We actually had a father complain on one of the local forums about bikers not making way when he was teaching his toddler how to ride a bike on the Mount Vernon trail, which is like I-95 on weekends.

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  12. This is a timely topic for me. Earlier this week, I was taking one of my usual shortcuts on the way to work. It was 4:30AM, dark and deserted. Just before rounding a 90 degree corner, I thought I noticed something in the corner of my eye, but I didn't heed that something. It was another rider traveling without a light and we rode almost squarely into each other. Miraculously, neither us nor our bikes were permanently damaged. Oddly, neither of us was angry and we just picked ourselves up and went on our way. It was a wakeup call for me. Perhaps I will upgrade the headlight and add some of those small bells mentioned above by Richard. Rivendell was selling them for a dollar a bell.

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  13. The town I live in here in the Midwest has turned our main artery sidewalks all into MUPs. In one sense, it is great - we don't have to be on busy roads with our bicycles and have a safer path through town. The flip side is that that we too have to share with strollers, joggers wearing ear buds and can't hear your bell, wanderers, etc. I also sometimes feel "guilty" if I have to ring the bell to a pedestrian, like I shouldn't be on the path with my 'vehicle'. My town has said I can be, but I'm not sure all pedestrians know this. I wish we had signs up indicating bikes/pedestrians and that there was a dividing line on the path to help people stay to one side a little better - help them understand that is what one should do. Most of the time, I meander through residential streets rather than use these "MUPs". At least then I don't have to deal with pedestrians and I'm not on busy roads.

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  14. You did the right thing, Velouria. You didn't use a curse (although you would have been justified in doing so) and you projected at enough volume to get her attention and avoid a crash. My young man's first day on his Pashley Sovereign Roadster last year (after much badgering from me to get it) began with a crash from a kamikaze out of control cyclist on an MUP about ten minutes into the Pash's maiden voyage.

    I have similarly called out "watch out" or "hey"--but I think "MOVE" is just fine. I have only had to make these calls to non-attentive cyclists (usually adolescents playing around not paying attention). On one stretch down Broadway in NYC the green painted exclusive bike lane is USUALLY frequented by pedestrians, ignoring the fact that they have two HUGE sections or pavement on either side of the road that are slightly elevated just for their use--I think they are called "sidewalks?" When using this, I just clang my bell merrily away and slow down a bit, bong-bong, bong-bong, good morning, excuse me, have a good day!

    Don't worry about what your fellow cyclists said as they receded--if they had any manners they would not have been riding three abreast and not paying attention in the first place.

    The thought of you writing this blog from a sickbed, or worse upsets me so much, and I am sure I'm not the only reader who feels this way.

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  15. I just try to stay off the bike mup when the weather get's nice and all of the fair weather cyclist's, runners, dog walkers come out.
    I mostly ride it in the winter or off peak traffic hours.

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  16. My first reaction to this post was "Gee, are you guys never happy?", From out here in the boonies it seems like having these trails would be Nirvana and that complaining about incidents like this is silly. Then I started thinking about how frustrating it would be to have this available and to not be able to really use it.

    I'd want to be able to do more than weave around through the joggers at 7mph or dodge the salmon too, and the frustration of having to constantly be responsible for the safety of those who are using it as a promenade would bring out far worse than shouting "MOVE". I definitely understand where you're coming from.

    I don't know how this trail is marked but I do know that when you remove the threat of being crushed to death by a pickup, most people go into "High School Hallway Mode" anyway, regardless of the signage.

    There are mountainbike trails in the George Washington National Forest out here that I never use on the weekends because of all the people on them doing the very things the signs prohibit. Three of us were coming down a pretty fast descent and were startled to find a cooler on the trail in the middle of a bend with a piece of paper duct taped to it that read "SLOW DOWN", luckily it was a wide spot and we just rolled around it but on the other side of the curve there was a tent on either side of the trail and 4 or 5 kids sitting IN the trail. On stools. Cooking on a campstove IN the trail. They explained that it was the only flat spot they could find and the cooler was there to make the bikers who kept flying down the trail(Like IDIOTS!) slow down. There was a "No Camping" sign at either end of the trail and signs everywhere about trail usage. We wanted to report them but there really aren't Ranger Stations or anything out there and no cell phone service so it would mean driving 10 miles into Bridgewater, and by the time we got back to the cars we no longer wanted them hanged. Things like that seem to happen more often than one would believe. I don't understand it either.

    Spindizzy

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  17. Yell what you need to yell. "MOVE!" is a lot more polite than some people deserve. (And starting with a consonant is good.)

    Dan.

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  18. The Minuteman is a particularly difficult MUP. I find riding on Mass Ave. in Arlington and Lexington much safer and less nerve racking.

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  19. The exact same thing happened to me at the Nashua River Rail Trail this past Sunday. But, they finally moved. I ride with friends on ocassion on this same path and we are always ever so vigilant, and keep our chatting to a minimum. Personally, I like pathways to get to where I'm going. I turned the 24 mile pathway into 33 miles by taking off roads along the path this past Sunday.

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  20. Hilarious, getting yelled at by Veloria. If only they knew...
    Travelling three abreast, taking up the full width, not looking where they are going, is pretty crappy behavior, I'd say. They deserved to get yelled at. One of the other riders should have warned "bike up."

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  21. The party of three were in the wrong, riding selfishly and unsafely. You did the right thing. These days, to be in the wrong, and to be called on it, most often is seen not as cause to apologize, but cause to take umbrage.

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  22. Move was exactly the right thing to say. The fact that they were riding like entitled jerks is incidental - when a collision is iminent, one sylable orders are the best you can hope for. Maybe you should get an airhorn.

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  23. I like riding MUPs, but mostly I'm going much slower than you were probably going, and I take a pretty zen approach to pedestrians et al- having to wait to pass is a chance to slow down and enjoy the scenery. If I'm really in a hurry I'll go by street.

    I think you were perfectly justified, and Move is more polite than many would have. They were just being defensive massholes with their retort.

    I'm a big fan of "Heads Up" as an attention getter. It's obviously not an obscenity, it has a good consonant at the beginning and a nice pop at the end. Plus the message is exactly what I want- for people to pay attention. It's replaced my previous favorite "Oi!" which was a bit more ambiguous.
    I use my bell for alerting pedestrians, but have found that I yell more at cars. My bell isn't loud enough, but my lungs are!

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  24. As you say, corners are the toughest!! I've learned the hard way to always expect someone coming and hold my breath hoping others are doing the same!! A dear friend experienced a freak accident where someone's break lever caught his on just such a path and he flipped -- two months later he left the hospital and was able to walk out on his own! Anything can happen and, sadly, does.

    Be careful!

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  25. Re using bells...

    You know, I am beginning to think of mine as purely decorative. More often than not, the person who hears one does not know how to respond. Or else they don't hear it at all, because of their sound-proof headphones. Or else they do hear it, respond by moving aside, but are indignant about it - obviously perceiving the use of a bell on them as rudeness on my part.

    Don't even get me started on "On Your Left!"

    Ultimately, as a culture we just do not have an established protocol for cyclist/pedestrian travel interactions. On MUPs in Vienna, pedestrians react a lot more predictably when cyclists pass them, because it's just this internalised thing there. But here, I think that pedestrians just genuinely do not know what to do a lot of the time.

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  26. melissatheragamuffinMay 26, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    We don't have any MUTs around here.

    There is one where my step-mother lives in Florida that I ride when I'm down there. When confronted with bicycles coming toward me I just shout, "Hey! How ya doing?" That gets their attention.

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  27. "How do you deal with MUPs?"

    Passively as humanly possible. I ride on them like I don't belong there, even though I do, and try put others' right of way before mine, especially pedestrians. But there will always be occasions where less than polite vocalizations are necessary when others aren't paying attention, like the one you described above.

    Could have been worse. About a year ago I caught myself in spit spraying tirade against a jogger wearing headphones, running on the wrong side of the MUP, oblivious to the world around her, whom I had slowed behind to jogging pace and *rang rang rang* repeatedly, unwilling to pass for fear she may have lurched to the correct side of path if she suddenly heard me. After I had finally gotten her attention, forced a fake but convincing smile and said "excuse me" in as cheery a tone as possible before passing, to which she snarled a nasty "Why didn't you just pass me?" My response was far worse than a stern "move." My response was Tarantinoesque, and I'm sure remembers situation as one where she did nothing at all and was accosted by a crazed jerk on a bike. Not productive AT ALL.

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  28. You did the right thing so don't worry about it. You saved everyone from bumps, bruises or a broken bone.

    Lately since I've been able to bike faster, I find my patience with people not signaling a turn driving me nuts. Yesterday it was a girl mamby-pambying across the bike lanes as she decided to turn left.... a few days before it was a 5 or 6 year old boy doing something similar. I couldn't find myself mad at the little boy.. he's just a tyke out with mom and dad, but the older teenage girl should know better.. she's native Dutch!!!

    We too have lots of teens who ride three abreast, but when it comes to all of us colliding, somehow they all squeeze together and we all squeek through. Sometimes it feels like they are only giving me 18 inches to get 24 inches though and I know I'm wincing as I do it. It scares the puddin' out of me!

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  29. I rarely use the MUPs in New York because they are incredibly out of the way for me, but our protected bike lanes are essentially MUPs. I don't think I can ever remember being in one that didn't also contain skaters, rollerbladers, homeless people with giant carts filled with soda cans, strollers, etc. Everyone just thinks, oh HEY, the sidewalk is totes wider now, thanks. New Yorkers do not respond to bells. It's just too noisy, I think? They're like "oh that's so cute! Bell!" I'm like, "I just want to be traffic to you."

    The thing that has come out of my mouth is a loud OI, which is probably what I first heard people yelling to those who needed to get out of the way during early years in London. It's pretty embarrassing, though, because I live in Brooklyn and people certainly hear it as OY, with all the sighing judgement contained therein. Not inappropriate really, but not what I mean, either. I am also not remotely cockney, so it's ridiculous on that level, too. Apparently I require an inner WAG alter ego who can yell, since I certainly cannot in my daily life.

    I agree w Anon 9:07 about people taking umbrage at being taken to task for doing something wrong -- this phenomenon seems to have accelerated in the culture since the 80s.

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  30. Timely as always. I had a collision a couple of weeks ago on the Southwest Corridor path with a guy who was cycling towards me on the wrong side, not paying attention, alongside a separate cluster of cyclists. It was one of the first really lovely warm days and I think he was just struck by what I call "beautiful night" syndrome--just enjoying himself and not watching where he was going. I rang my bell, once, twice and then finally shouted (in some ancient equestrian impulse) "WHOA!!!" That finally made him snap to and though he still collided with my bike and then toppled over, the crash wasn't as bad as it could have been. he was apologetic and clearly embarrassed but the whole thing was unnerving since generally I feel very safe on that path and the bikers, though they tend to be young and speedy, usually ride sensibly. The other cyclists who were there just shook their heads and one muttered "now THAT was f*cked up!"

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  31. neighbourtease, whenever anybody says "Oi!" to me, even when they are British or Australian, I can't help but snigger. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly effective; but there's just something comical about it to an American ear, especially when it comes from someone whom you're so accustomed to listening to you don't even hear their accent anymore.

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  32. Riding three cyclist next to eachother taking up the entire path is rude behaviour and straight up dangerous, Just like cars don't ride side by side in all lanes neither should bikes.

    Here where I live we cycle lanes everywhere and it's quite common for faster cyclist to get stuck behind 2-3 women blabbering, texting and just plain disregarding the rules of the cycle path. Not only that they actually scoof at you and make you feel like a menace for wanting just an inch of space to squeeze past them. If I'm coming up from behind on these people i just usually yell Hey! Hey! and they get the point.
    If I'm on a dual cycling lane and I'm riding towards these kind of people without them moving then I get much more agressive! my yell turns into HEY!! HEY!! *Angry face >.<*

    I've never collided with anyone but if I ever collide with a cyclist who deliberately put my life in danger then I can't be sure what I'd do to them, I might actually physically punch them and maybe toss their bike into the bushes before riding off fuming of anger. I think you were completely right by yelling at the other cyclist in this situation. If I were you and they had yelled back that snarky remark then there's no doubt that I would've turned around and had a serious verbal confrontation with the other cyclist.

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  33. Nothing at all to feel bad about. Once I was walking my child in a stroller on the trail when a bee-suited Lance Armstrong wanna-bee zipped past at 30 mph just inches from the stroller.

    I screamed some pointed commentaries at him, at which point he stopped his bike and glared at me. I challenged him to fisticuffs, but he just left.

    I could tell the nearby old ladies on the trail were on my side, since he was biking like a total jerk.

    Generally I'm as peaceful as could be and that's the only time it ever happened.

    :0)

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  34. Adam, trust me when I say it's involuntary! My accent is kind of hodge podge with some weird cadence, but it's mostly American, so saying OI is even worse. I am well aware this is exceptionally lame. :)

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  35. My low point: not on an MUP (we don't have any), but on a road. One of my friends was coming the other way. A car behind him honked and passed him. The honks are not friendly around here and I made a rude gesture at the driver. My friend passed me and we waved and said hello.

    I found out later that my friend was wearing his "honk if you love bicycles" jersey.

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  36. I'm guessing darius is a roadie.

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  37. We had similar problems on our Schuykill River Trail between Philadelphia and Valley Forge. Our local advocacy group suggested marking the trail with a dividing line, line the lane dividers on a road, near any curve or intersection to remind cyclists to stay on one side.

    For some reason,the agencies in charge of the trail refused to do this, citing liability issues. In frustration, someone put in the lane markings with tape. Many people remarked that this DID impact behavior and made the path much safer. The control agencies got a LOT of mail about this and they finally put in the lane markings.

    Really seems to help with the bi-directional traffic.

    Myself, I really do try to avoid the MUPs on weekends and other times their are a lot of people on them. They are jsut too unsafe for traveling faster than about 8 mph.

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  38. a bit late to the parade; but after skimming the comments so far, I can say that my feeling on the subject are in line with everyone else.

    They were being inattentive, you alerted them (without cursing) -- therefore there was no wrong. The muttering of "and a nice day to you, too!" was just passive aggressive and uncalled for.

    The simple fact of the matter is since they were occupying the breadth of the path, the onus was on them to be aware and cautious of oncoming traffic.

    Too often I have experienced the phenomenon @Anon 9:07 mentioned ... as recently as a week and a half ago, I had a motorist run a red light (also a "no turn on red") all the while flipping me off (!!) when I "had words" with him he essentially blamed me for going strait on a green... :/ "umbrage" indeed.

    on a final note, like @Cycler, I like "heads up!" as well...

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  39. darius - I'm picturing myself turning around to chase them... "You talkin' to me?"

    Re "women blabbering"... This makes me realise that I very seldom see several women cycling together around these parts. The cyclists in the situation I described were 2 men and 1 woman (the one in my path), all of them roadies and the men possibly wearing some local team's kit, but the woman not.

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  40. I guess I am just fortunate not to live in a place fortunate enough to even have trails like that.

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  41. I think occurrences like the one you describe are pretty normal, especially when interacting with larger numbers of people on public roads, etc. Personally, I am happy to say that (so far) the only unpleasantries I have uttered have been when I was almost run down by an SUV in the suburbs. I just screamed mostly out of personal fear (not thinking the driver could hear anyway) but it got her attention and she finally looked up from her cell phone and hit the brakes in time (I was crossing a sidewalk in front of her car).

    In any event, I find that for pathways with cyclists and pedestrians, my mechanical brass bell works pretty well for getting peoples' attention. It doesn't have that diminutive "bring bring" noise, but more of a giant clang which tends to make people jump out of the way. ;) The downside is that I don't like to use it frequently, as it doesn't have a very polite sound to it!

    -MFarrington

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  42. "I was going faster than I normally do on the trail." Adam's snide comment aside, riding the fast bike on an MUP is a recipe for disaster. Everything seems to be happening in slow motion.

    MUP = Bounce House.

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  43. My experiences jibe with much of what I'm reading here. That's why I, like Peter, avoid MUPs on weekends and holidays. Actually, I find that even the most hostile drivers are more attentive than tourists, strollers, rollerbladers and others who cavort on the MUPs, so I actually prefer cycling on most streets to riding the MUPs.

    Two of the worst expereiences I had were in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, when I was living near there. The park road, which then was closed to traffic on weekends and during the summer, had all of the hazards described here.

    But worst of all were the groups of kids from a nearby elementary school. The teachers would make the kids form a "chain" to cross the road. The problem was that because the road was a loop, the kids could be on the other side of the bend and you couldn't see them until you came to the bend. It was like coming to a railroad crossing where there is no warning signal. If you'd built up any kind of speed, as I usually did in those days, the results could be disastrous. Fortunately, I never hit any kids, but I wonder whether anyone else did.

    Then there was the time when a group of about twenty teenagers stretched themselves across the road, as if they were trying to ensnare a cyclist. Being younger and angrier in those days, I pedalled faster and yelled a line from a movie that was popular with young people of color at the time: "Back the @*!! up!"

    These days, all of my bikes are fitted with brass bells. The funny thing is that people hear them--or epithets-- but not someone yelling "Excuse me!"

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  44. As loathe as one might be to do it, I think slowing down rather than just yelling and plowing through might be better.

    Just yesterday I was taking one of my company's b-cycles from one part of the campus to the other, when I spotted someone on a road bike and backpack- a researcher where I work getting into the labs. I was trying to overtake her on my heavy b-cycle bike, and she suddenly turned left cutting me off and I yelled "Sorry!" or something, and we stopped in time. My bad, for not making myself known to her (but I wasn't sure I'd catch up with her by the time she made her turn); and hers for not looking. She thought she was the lone bicyclist on the that bay trail (our company is on SF Bay). I shoulda used the built-in bell, which I've done with success when encountering peds.

    Years ago riding north on the Golden Gate Bridge, a fast roadie coming south yelled angrily at us, "MOVE!" I think that by not stopping, this person came across as particularly entitled, as in, "I'm not going to slow down even though it will be safer for everyone if I did." So it becomes a split-second game of chicken.

    In the case above at my work, I obviously slowed down, and so did she, and all was fine, b/c we both de-escalated.

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  45. I love your blog, but this is one for the fridge. This is exactly why I WILL NOT let my family ride abreast. There are five of us, including an adult trike, me with a trailer or baby seat and two erratic teenagers. What a disaster we could be!

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  46. Can I add one more story to the confessional? I had my first true road rage incident last summer while driving down on the Cape behind two young women riding two abreast in the middle of the lane. True, this was a fairly slow road-to-the-beach type road but it was paved and marked and there was plenty of traffic, including a stream of cycling families coming in the other direction. After I'd idled hopefully for a few seconds, the women started waving me lazily to go around them--impossible given the oncoming traffic. It was so bizarre--I spend much more time on my bike than I do driving, but the cluelessness and rudeness of these women made me so steamed--they just didn't want to move over. I'm sorry to say that it escalated into honking (i had a stream of cars behind me) and then eventually into a full-blown screaming match--surely the last scenario anyone wants after a laid-back afternoon at the beach.

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  47. Adam & GR Jim - I agree with the comment about not belonging there, in the sense that I think MUPs accommodate low to moderate commuting speeds and not road cycling. There is just no way your reaction time is good enough to avoid a child suddenly swerving into your path if you're traveling 20mph while passing them - which I've seen many do.

    When the trail is crowded, I make it a point to stick to moderate speeds. Like under 15mph. And when I am passing families with little kids who are squealing and zig-zagging all over the path, I slow down to walking speed. I don't think it can safely be done otherwise.

    But avoiding the trail all together? I try to get out and ride in Lexington, MA as often as I can, and having to travel 10 miles each way on a busy and extremely unpleasant road to get there would be a serious de-motivator.

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  48. Ground Round Jim, what snide comment? I was just making an observation that roadies are more aggressive and more impatient than other cyclists. They generally are. Heck, when I'm on a road bike, I'm more aggressive and less patient, but I try to keep that in check on MUPs.

    Velouria, I use a road bike on longer MUPs. I rode 40 miles this past weekend on MUPs, they were packed, and I had a great time. But, no I didn't 'open it up' and generally stayed below 16 mph on the straights, 12 mph on the bends, rang my bell when passing with cheery hellos, and slowed to walking pace when passing little children or people walking dogs. I just don't think MUPs are the proper place for a really aggressive heavy workout or roadie mentality.

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  49. Sarah - This is exactly why I think the "we have the right to the full lane" law is not practicable.

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  50. It is what it is--multipurpose. If you're going to take the path, you need to get out early and plan to ride slowly. Actually,the Charles River path is much worse, and so you see many cyclists riding Memorial Drive, much to the irritation of drivers.

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  51. I don't understand the "full lane" thing, though there are definitely rules about riding single file in any case. I always get a little bewildered when I hit one of those Boston streets (on Huntington Ave, for example, which is a bit of a nightmare anyway) where the "bike lane" takes up a whole lane rather than a nice 5-foot slice. Better than nothing as an awareness-raiser, I think, but I find it confusing and I'm sure most drivers do as well.

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  52. Adam, see that's a generalization that's divisive and damning to roadies, of which I am one. I am also every other kind of cyclist you could imagine. Darius's comment was for sure aggro and in the back of my mind I thought he might be a roadie but there's nothing to indicate he is. He was merely moving faster than three women yapping at a glacial pace, could've been any subset of cyclist.

    V's story directly mirrors his: she can be seen as an aggressive roadie as well.

    There are so many negative comments in her blog about roadies and their general attitudes but no one ever calls them on it. My road group is extremely courteous and we shake our collective heads at individuals who behave like jerks, calling them "stupid roadies" as an inside joke. But when roadie is used as a pejorative on the web it's something different.

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  53. We all have our mindless moments when we ride or drive so a quick noisy slap is entirely the right thing to do no matter who you are.

    Just be glad you have the lungs to get very loud and "menacing " to save the day. Protecting yourself has not one thing to do with being a proper lady.

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  54. Christopher FotosMay 26, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Like Velouria, I have come to look upon bells as primarily decorative (and regulatory--at least one of the jurisdictions around here requires bells on bikes). Oh, and in my post way above about that Mt. Vernon trail, that's in the Washington DC region where I live.

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  55. In Seattle we have a highly used multi-purpose trail called the Burke-Gilman. Those situations happen all the time and are always scary and you shouldn't feel ashamed about it.

    Though the public confession was probably cathartic.

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  56. I haven't had that experience and usualy amnot going as fast as you were. I might yell out too though b/c hello you need to ride to make room for oncoming traffic....

    For pedestrians I find the bell is a like speaking in greek. No one responds and it does appear rude to them so I often say " I'm coming up on your left there. Thank you" It only works at slow speed ( which I am doing and yes I am using sidewalks in weird areas of newton) but it allows me to get by and they usually respond nicely. I ring my bell very rarely actually.

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  57. Sigh. The Minuteman has been like that for years! I avoid it when we get the first burst of good weather. But I've seen cyclists be just as rude as everyone else. Once, a group of 3 women on road bikes suddenly stopped at an entrance. I was behind them and thought there was a problem but they only wanted to discuss the next ride they'd do. No effort to move off the path and out of the way of traffic.
    As for alerts, the best bell I've found is the Crane brass with the lever. I stopped using "on your left" decades ago, for the reasons others have given. Instead I yell "Heads up!" or "Passing". These seem to be more effective and get the point across.
    However, with the start of spring, I'm surprised at the number of cyclists who pass others on the roadways without any warning.

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  58. My two cents is agreement... Anon 9:07 and Justine Valinotti when she says "I find that even the most hostile drivers are more attentive than tourists, strollers, rollerbladers and others who cavort on the MUPs" I'm almost always on the streets, esp. if I'm wanting to go somewhere. But the wife hates the roads, so we'll do MUPs. But then we ride leisurely, not purposefully. So we generally have to time to avoid bad situations or give way to the other traffic. But I would disagree a bit with the notion that that there is not a established protocol for cyclist/pedestrian travel interactions. At least im my area of the country, we use MUPs like we use roads, keep right and pass on left. Pretty simple really.

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  59. I avoid them scrupulously. There is no way on God's green earth I want to have to be dodging a herd of loopy, out-to-lunch pedestrians, you-must-love-my-dog dog walkers, have-a-go-Henry cyclists and joggers who are 'in the zone' with iPods plugged in their ears. I hate all that. I just don't need the stress. I go out on my bike to have some tranquility.

    I'd much rather play on the Freeway - it's probably safer too.

    Roff

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  60. Anne Welch - Wait, you're local? I somehow missed that before, nice to know! I do not use the Charles River trail if I intend to actually get anywhere on time. I do ride there on occasion exclusively for sight-seeing purposes - taking some time out of my day to look at the boats or the flowers. It's a beautiful trail.

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  61. I feel pretty similarly - there are quite a few multi-use paths in Portland, and sometimes they are *very* crowded, being hard to even ride through, as you have to perform a trackstand every 10 seconds. Normally it's not that bad, but you do have to be careful and watch what you're doing. Still, I'd rather that than the highway-like roads that usually accompany them. At least I trust myself to be careful, I don't trust the majority of people on the highway-like road to do the same. Still, I think this is a great reason to start designing bicycle-only facilities if you really want to increase cycling. Convenience is greatly diminished if you have to go 3mph to make sure you can stop in time when the guy jogging in the opposite direction decides to veer over right in front of you and stop in the middle of the path (which is his prerogative, and he should be able to do - it just makes it tricky for multiple modes to interact like that).

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  62. I think education of all trail users is critical. I'm particularly concerned with the behavior of certain animals (ahem, ducks and geese...) who like to hang on on the trails. They usually situate themselves dead-center, socializing loudly and refusing to yield to anyone. These punks don't respond to my bell, nor do they move over when I shout "on your left." I wish we could find a way to teach all trail users to share the path respectfully.

    Don't even get me started on the behavior of bunny rabbits.

    Or banana slugs.

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  63. A few weeks ago I was riding on a dirt rail trail, at a pretty good clip, when I saw a long thick chord crossing the entire 8 foot span and descending into the ditches on either side. It wasn't until I was less than 10 yards away that I realized it was a black snake sunning itself. Skidding fishtailing stop, cloud of dust, I was only able to stop within 6 inches of running him over, and the entitled jerk just laid there getting a suntan.

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  64. Velouria, First don't feel bad, maybe you could have said something less direct or a bit more witty, but YOU were the one looking where you were going!

    I occasionaly get the smart ass comment from people I pass "on your left" Indicating that I failed to announce me pressence. True enough and it's better these days, but when I started using "Bike paths" as we used to call them; 9 times out of 10 saying something to a group of walkers or a jogger on the trail infront of you would cause mass confusion and they would scatter! Usually right into you! It was so much easier just to leave them to their Walkmen/headphones and move by quickly on whichever side provided the most clearence. Sure they might be startled and a bit annoyed, but at least nobody got hurt.

    Not sure if you heard about it, but a jogger/walker(?) was actually killed here on the Katy Trail when she was struck by a fast moving cyclist. I do not know the exact circustances, but I surmise that the cyclist was going a pretty good clip and I have to imagine that the walker stepped out in front of them unexpectedly!?

    I confess to having equiped a couple of my bikes with bells recently, I like the Crane's with the clapper on the little spring. I really hate bells and feel they are quite emasculating, but I am really surprised by how really effective they are. If I say something to somebody in order for them to hear me I practically have to yell at them in order for them to hear me far enough in advance for things to go smoothly, BUT I find one good clang of the bell 20 to 25 yards out and the sound carries very well. There's a bit of a delayed reaction as it takes the sound a couple seconds to reach ahead of you, but generally before you get there, they will be clear of the trail!! Amazing really and if you ding loudly and early, if they don't hear you, you have time to Ding again!!

    masmojo

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  65. Those snakes are so freakin' entitled. And don't even get me started on squirrels.

    One more thought on this--I realized that I feel pretty spoiled with this stuff because I ride so much on the Southwest Corridor path which is, for the most part, two paths, with clear signage for pedestrians and cyclists. Someone also painted a slightly squiggly dividing line down the center of the bike path so that you're constantly reminded to stay in your "lane." There are still occasional issues with walkers, dogs, dopey cyclists, but for the most part it's pretty simple--it's a pretty good model, I think for a comfortable MUP, though I doubt it's ever as crowded as the Minuteman.

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  66. For every action, there is a reaction. They weren't looking where they were headed, so your reaction was perfectly okay. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 - but in the moment, we just do our best.

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  67. CJ- gotta watch out for the banana slugs- you can never tell when they're going to dart out in front of you :)

    All kidding aside I did see a dead duckling on the Charles river path last week and wondered if it had swerved in front of a bike. At least joggers don't poop on the path!

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  68. Sarah 9:54am (and others interested) - Your comment and my reply have inspired a post of its own from a fellow bicycle blogger : ) Give it a visit and chime in if you like, Randall is a very nice guy.

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  69. This is why I don't like MUPs - they're designed by folks who don't cycle and who don't know that bicycles are built for speed and require much greater width than the average trail provides. Many bicycle infrastructure designers assume that because a bicycle is narrow and more maneuverable than a car, it can perform well on narrow winding paths. But the bicycle was designed for wide and smooth roads, not narrow gravel and dirt trails.

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  70. Riding three abreast on a path is just greedy. Space-grabbing. And dangerous. Two abreast, fine, there is usually room for other users to use the path be they cyclists, parents with prams, rollerbladers, dogwalkers, whatever; the same kind of people we see on our MUPs where we ride. You were right to yell loudly if they hadn't noticed you, and I am humbled by your politeness :-) in simply yelling "MOVE!"

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  71. Velouria, I think you were justified, but understand the frustration of wishing you had said something else. The trick is to speak up before you feel too threatened -- not always easy to gauge, I know. I generally feel better slowing down a bit and yelling a friendly "Heads Up!" a little early than waiting until I'm about to panic, and then realizing I'm already panicking.
    -Eric

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  72. It doesn't sound like you were at fault at all. Of course, you, as the aggrieved party, feel bad about it, but it's likely the careless cyclists even allowed themselves a second of self-doubt. Actually, this sounds like it needs the BikeSnobNYC treatment.

    I'm fortunate in that the multi-use-trail I ride use most often in my commuting is an old canal towpath. It's only accessible at bridges and locks, which are sometimes more than five miles apart, with parking areas being even rarer, meaning that once you get a mile or so away from the nearest parking lot, traffic thins out tremendously.

    The most obnoxious trail-goers on many stretches are the critters, particularly the Canada Geese (or, as their known in our local dialect "$#@*&^% GEESE!!!!"), which will actually chase and attack you if, a)there are goslings anywhere within half a mile b)they're thinking about having goslings in the near future c)they once knew a gosling or d) they're bored and want to pick a fight.

    I do admit that I occasionally jog on MUTs, and when I do, I often use an iPod, but I avoid using noise-cancelling headphones, keep the volume low, and try to keep a predictable line.

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  73. For me it's a matter of communication. Mostly that there are other users on the path and that they should be part of the traffic and not oblivious. On what could be the world best bike path across the sand in Santa Monica, there are many, many people avoiding the adjacent ped path. This behavior is turning it into a MUP.

    I usually yell -

    "Bike road, BIKE ROAD!"

    as I pass on the left. Too many to pass? I have a very load horn. The kind with a squeeze bulb. Sounds like a truck, and that usually moves them over.

    Not moving to the right after being horned? We all expect slow traffic to stay to the right where practicable. They don't think they are on a road. That's two audible warnings: I've perfected the hard tap on the shoulder technique. Put your right shoulder down and keep pedeling. Aim for the adult person further left's left arm - which here is usually fully extended into the complete path in a moment of philosophical bliss. You'll find they spin around, not falling at all. The Bostonian "Outta de road!, OK?" As they glare at you works pretty well here. It they want to talk I point at the walking path.

    Your mileage may vary. There's probably a Minuteman/Colonial version - maybe "The British are coming, the British are coming"!?

    Cautions: Japanese & British Empire tourists (pretty common here) spring to the left when startled. Be careful of well dressed groups of short people with black hair! And, the shoulder tap requires full sized adults in reasonable shape waving their arms.

    The idea is to make them understand in a very short timespan that there are other road users.

    Nothing can save you from salmon-like cyclists in your lane. I've been hit head on by one that didn't have the handlebars connected to the front wheel - they were holding them up symbolically - no directional control! Your "Move" seems like the best idea.

    All the best. This is certainly an ongoing topic!

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  74. It was raining one morning a few weeks ago, and while I was walking my bike out to the front walkway, my neighbor was leaving his house to go to work. Seeing me with my bike, he asked me if it was really safe to ride to work in the rain, especially on--oh no!--city streets in traffic. The question left me dumbfounded for a moment. But after I recovered, I just told him that 50% of my ride was on the Burke Gilman Trail, and the other half was on well-established bike routes on city streets. That I figure that some or a lot of motorists on those roads realize that they're also on a major bike route. So, I'm not going to worry about it so much. (Seems like a reasonable rationalization to me. There's no gaurentees that nothing bad will happen.) My neighbor said "Oh." "You're not worried about getting in a wreck." Not really.

    After reading this post, it made me think about how less challenging it is to ride on city streets than it is to ride, at times, on the Burke Gilman Trail or your favorite/not so favorite MUP. I think that's what it boils down to for me.

    And yeah, pedestrians and bicyclist that walk and ride these trails while wearing headsets is really annoying. I'm not sure they really ever hear my bell before I pass by.

    Great blog, by the way. Better than listening to NPR.

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  75. Adam - Hehe :P I'm definitely not a roadie since I ride several different bikes for different purposes. I own a cargo bike, a regular single-speed citybike and a fixie which doesn't exactly make me a crazed speed demon on the roads.

    Velouria - The blabbering women hawking entire cyclelanes phenomenon is quite common where I live (Copenhagen, Denmark) and it's quite frankly embarrassing for a city that wants to dethrone Amsterdam as the cycling capitol of the world. cycling infrastructure is nothing less than excellent around here yet still unattentive cyclist manage to create dangerous situations for the people around them. I can't tell you how many cyclist both men and women cycle with iPods plugged in their ears while texting and basically doing anything other than watching the road, or if they're not doing that they're clumped in groups side by side talking and slinging left and right at different speeds.

    It might not sound bad but I'll never forget the day i saw two girls riding side by side while another girl who just came out of the university parking lot tried to pass these two girls on the right within the cycling lane. The girl on the right who had to speed up and pull infront of her friend to let faster cyclist through coming from behind didn't even bother. She just squeezed closer to her friend still chitchatting, so the university girl had little space to get through. The curbed cycling lane wasnt wide enough for three people to cycle next to eachother so they all bumped shoulders and next thing you know the university girl on the far left got pushed out into the carlane, lost control and literally smashed her face straight into the curb, i'll mind you that all this happened at relatively moderate speeds and the girl who got hurt was taken away in an ambulance.

    In your case it seems like the woman was maybe on a loaner bike and might have been the wife or girlfriend of one of the two male roadies. She might not have known proper cycling etiquette but that doesn't exuse the two clowns with her for not telling her or realizing that their riding style was improper and dangoures. your yelling was definitely the right thing to do. I don't believe in bells and if she's that blank in the first place then i'm sure she was blank enough not to know what it means if you rung your bell in the situation (got one?).

    Ground Round Jim- Personally i stand by the belief that anyone who attempts to harm or kill someone else by their own carelessness for life deserve whatever consequences comes afterwards. Anyone who knows me know that I'm the least agressive person out there and by no stretch anywhere like a jerk roadie. But I'll be damned if I ever leave this world as a traffic casualty... there's alot of things on the road that doesn't bother me and I've cycled in some of the most horrendous cities in the world. But I just can't stand that someone thinks they can get away with almost murdering me without as much as a sorry. Call me aggro or a jerk but in the moments after I've just avoided a potentially serious accident I'm nothing but and irritated and shocked human, and I don't think it's out of line to throw someones bike into the bushes or to kick a drivers mirror off if it makes me feel much better by the time i get home. I understand that accidents happen and some people geniuenly are new motorist and bikers but those people are easy to spot just as much as it's easy to spot someone who tries to harm you with malicious intent e.g motorist swerving at you on purpose or as in this case a plain stupid cyclist who even managed to throw back a snarky remark afterwards.

    Luckily I live in a country where getting in a confrontation with someone for causing you to crash on your bike doesn't deter the rest of the population from cycling since it's already so mainstream, so in my case i don't have to worry about giving other cyclists a bad name if hand out alittle vigilante justice for myself.

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  76. "How do you deal with MUPs?"

    Here in Toronto the busiest (that I know) on the weekends is the Lakeshore path. I used it last Saturday when training for a tour to the Niagara region that I plan to do soon. Even though there are sections with a separate path for pedestrians, some end up using the bike path all the time in a rather anarchycal way.
    For me, the most annoying thing is when skaters or groups of cyclists ride side by side and take not only their lane but part of the opposite one (mine) leaving the remaining space for a pedestrian. I am forced to almost stop with no time to switch to a lower gear (derailleur bike) and then it's hard to start moving again. This, combined with the "defensive" riding style and sometimes having to accelerate to pass someone and then having to brake hard to avoid this kind of obstacles makes it exhausting to ride at certain times on these paths. I agree that using the bell can be counterproductive. A squeaky drum brake would work much better on these occasions as it works automatically when slowing down and nobody can take offense from it. ;-)
    Anyway, I think that the best way to deal with the MUPs is either to use an internal geared bicycle and just go (slowly, very slowly) with the flow and not wasting energy to pass anyone, or, just go early enough so that it's pretty much empty, which was what I could have done if I wasn't the biggest procrastinator in the whole world.

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  77. Oh Velouria...You said it yourself, you were going too fast. Remember, those paths are for all of us, even the mite on the trike. Of course three abreast is dangerous, but that is the condition that we must all look out for. And remember, it's better than the 10 mile busy, more dangerous highway. I'm glad you are safe.

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  78. not exactly on the topic, but hte post title first made me shiver instinctivley and then laugh :)
    in croata MUP is abbreviation for the ministry of interior affairs, what is basically the police. i already imagined you behind the bars with a bicycle :D

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  79. Ride where you feel the least stress. However, statistically, you're more likely to have an accident on the MUP than on a road. I think it's a combination of factors: the mix of slower pedestrians and faster vehicles, the higher number of inexperienced riders because they feel safer on the path, and probably the lack of vigilance of a lot of those users. We feel the most stressed and least safe when being passed by a motor vehicle on the road, when that is probably the lowest risk we face on any given trip.

    That said, I completely agree with the others who commented that the only way to use a MUP safely is to slow down and be hyper vigilant. Whether that makes the stress level higher than sticking to the available roads is up to you. Luckily for me, I don't have the luxury of a choice in my city. I'm stuck fighting with the nasty motor vehicles. Though I suppose motorists are at least less likely to hear my occasional invectives :)

    Garth-

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  80. Darius, believe me I've been more aggro than the norm and I've been attacked with malicious intent more than a few times.

    In the U.S. we are learning; immature like the girls you mentioned, but with possibility.

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  81. As you know, Veloria, I ride MUPs almost exclusively. Cars make me nervous. I'm not a fast cyclist, though, so it's rarely an issue for me. Riding my old road bike meant picking days when no one was out on the trails. Now, with just upright bikes, I rarely have any issues.

    I did get stuck for literally 3-4 minutes behind a toddler riding on the wrong side of the Burke-Gilman not long ago. That trail is so busy, that this was incredibly dangerous. His parents were totally unconcerned as he weaved back and forth in the face of multitudes of road cyclists.

    Bell-wise, you just need a better bell. The brass ones sold with the curving hammer are very, very loud. I was bragging about how loud The Viva's giant Dutch bell is, and the bike shop guy said: "Please. THIS is loud," and hit the hammer on a brass bell that was half the size of mine. That thing resonated through the entire shop. Perhaps invest in one of those and see how it goes. I know VO sells them.

    As for yelling "move," you need to teach high schoolers for a while, then you'd get over having to order folks to do things in that tone. I have a "mean teacher" voice I pull out mostly in dangerous situations, that can literally make grown men jump. Once I was sitting behind my desk, back in public school when I had my own room, and noticed a known tough-kid gang member start to approach one of my other students in a threatening way, with that gang-y side-to-side posture very tough boys use. I couldn't possible get out from behind my desk in time to stop what was clearly going to end in one boy punching the other, so I said: "SIT DOWN!" in my mean-teacher voice (I hadn't even known I had one until that moment). Both boys immediately dropped to the floor and sat on the carpet, like puppies.

    I use this voice more often now, including when my own son does something dangerous. It works really well when small children start to cross roads without looking, or climb on rickety chairs to reach things that require tipping of said chairs, or try to slide down banisters with 15 foot drops on one side... "STOP!" is marvelous. I've gotten so good at it, that I use it freely in public. I saw a boy throwing rocks at a stray cat once: "STOP THROWING ROCKS AT THAT CAT!" Two boys cut in front of several people waiting at the grocery store, after clearly noting the line: "GET BACK IN LINE!"

    My best friend once yelled something at two people talking in a movie theater, after many threatening looks and much glaring in the direction of the talkers. "SHUT THE F*** UP!" she said. My jaw dropped and I turned bright red, I was so horrified by her saying this. Then I noticed that the theater was suddenly completely, absolutely silent and it stayed that way for the rest of the film :).

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  82. Since this is still up -- my worst experience riding on a MUP was arriving at DC after riding the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to DC. You arrive at the city on the Capital Crescent trail, and we got there a weekend morning, probably Sunday. There were two adults, my brother and I, and four children. Well, weekend mornings, it seems like the entire Georgetown population is out jogging on that trail, and they run in tight groups, all wearing iPods. It is practically impossible to get their attention, and when you do get them to move over, they move immediately back, after letting one rider by, blocking the kids between the two adults. You get the feeling that they really need to be in that group, some sort of DC status thing. Very rude and frustrating, and we were lucky that no one got hurt.

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  83. I should have abandoned this post before reading all this cuz now I'm depressed, here in Harrisonburg Va. we are finally going to get an actual, for real MUP to go along with the sharrows and bike lanes that have sprung up after a generation of "study".

    I'm doing a bunch of renderings of the "Northend Greenway" for the organization that is behind it to use for fundraising and community awareness. I've been sitting in on the discussions with Engineers and people with the city and the local bike club reps. and I haven't heard a thing about how to encourage rational use of the thing when it's done. It's sort of a "Build it and they will behave" sort of approach. I had sort of fallen under the spell myself and kept thinking how great it was going to be...

    What is a realistic expectation of behavior and do we have to settle for this? Maybe when I take the new sketches to the meeting next week I should include a couple of images of stroller pushing moms screaming at zoned-out joggers and maybe granny beating the crystal-meth out of some bmx'ers with her umbrella and see if it starts a healthy discussion. I'll certainly direct everyone who seems interested to this post...

    Maybe as cyclists the biggest benefit we get out of these things is fewer clinically depressed Dads with shrieking 9 month-olds strapped to their chests stomping head-down the wrong way in MY DAMN BIKE LANE ONE FREAKING FOOT AWAY FROM A BLEEDING SIDEWALK!!! (Oh my, I feel better having gotten that off my chest. I love babies and want to support nice dads out with their kids but if he does it again in the dark I'm gonna go all "spidermonkey" up in his face.)

    Spindizzy

    I think it might be time for a nice post about cats or healthy shacks that fit in a jersey pocket or something.

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  84. Darius, why would you believe this? —In your case it seems like the woman was maybe on a loaner bike and might have been the wife or girlfriend of one of the two male roadies.

    I would turn to carelessness and lack of attention as an explanation before assuming that the woman was a less experienced biker and some sort of hanger-on to the two male bikers.

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  85. I once had a similar situation on the road when someone was riding against traffic, heading right toward me. He looked like he was inexperienced, so I wanted to nicely tell him that he was on the wrong side of the road. But a car was coming up beside me, and in the tenseness of the situation I kind of yelled out "wrong side of the road!" much louder than I had hoped (he pulled over to the side though, which was good). I felt bad at first, but I forgave myself pretty quickly ... Because following the traffic rules and keeping an eye out for fellow cyclists is so important. I do always try to be friendly, but faced with a crash as an alternative, it's very difficult to keep one's voice even and steady. So don't worry about your close-encounter on the Minuteman Bikeway. It happens to all of us. :-)

    When it comes to paths, I use the "yellow line" theory. If there's a yellow line down the middle, then I tend to ride faster, since it's a purpose-built cycling path (although I'm still much more aware than on the road). If there's no line running down the middle of the path, then I only ride at a leisurely pace.

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  86. Velouria for me you experienced the same emotions I have found myself having in a similar situation, The frustration of the situation and then the shame of the reaction even though you had every right to react as you did. Then beating yourself up some because of the woulda, coulda, shoulda. Perhaps you were riding a bit faster than you normally would but you were paying attention - thankfully. My hope is the woman who was in the wrong is also feeling somewhat remorseful and you provided an educational moment! Happy cycling

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  87. I ride along the lake shore MUP in Toronto for about 12 km. 6.5 of them is along a section that experiences the heaviest traffic. When I ride to work at 7 a.m. there is almost nobody there, except for a few bike commuters that cycle smartly. In the afternoon it can be a different story, especially when the weather is nice. There is a boardwalk for pedestrian use, but a good number of people simply ignore it. I've had to ring my bell or raise my voice a few times, but nothing serious...except for one time. A group of older people from the far east were occupying the whole width of the path. First I rang the bell...nothing. I rang some more and more and more. I might have not been even there. Finally I got to them and had to almost stop. I shouted at them "wake up!". Then they slowly, slowly moved out of the way. And I agree - geese can have this idiotic expression when they look at you why you make so much noise, while they keep on depositing their poop on the path. Big bodies, lots of poop, tiny heads...
    Once I ran over a squirrel with my Dahon. It was during a morning commute. It very quickly dashed in front of my bike. Plomp, plomp...the handlebars were crooked, but I was still vertical. During my return journey I couldn't see any dead squirrel lying there, so I can only imagine the time of its life explaining to fellow squirrels what the tire marks were doing on its tail. Hey, Mr. Squirrel, if you're reading this, the tires were Marathon Plus. You're lucky I didn't have Marathon Winter, 'cause you'd get a haircut.

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  88. Sounds like your approach on these paths is reasonable. And sometimes you have to say something b/c people get in their own zones and don't have a good sense of their environment. And you have a wide range of abilities as well as a wide range of activities occurring on these paths (commuting, running, bikes, strollers, etc.) I say as long as you didn't swear and/or collide, you did just fine :). It sucks that we can't all have harmonious interaction all the time, but you just have to shake it off.

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  89. Its the same thing here on the left coast. MUP means just that you get all sorts of people and vehicles on the same path and most of them are not really paying attention- cyclists, pedestrians, skaters alike. After years of riding on urban and suburban paths I came to realize that if I want to ride at a "fast" pace (>15 mph) then a MUP is the last place I want to be unless my riding is before 8 am. Speed plus congestion plus inattention (on anyone's part) ends up being a recipe for disaster. I see Pelotons of young male (and female) riders blitzing along at 20+ mph riding 2 and 3 abreast and think A) is it any wonder Roadies can get a bad rap and B) its amazing there are not MORE accidents and C) why are you dudes on the road? This is just an observation, I have been guilty of the above many times and it took a friend (going too fast) crashing to avoid a kid on a razor scooter and breaking her collarbone to make me come to this realization. So even though I live close to a stretch of path on Puget sound with spectacular views I use the road beside it because the cars are easier for me to deal with than the MUP. On the rare occasions I do use a MUP during peak hours I try very hard to be in relaxed "noodling along" mode so I can avoid trouble. You did the right thing and being a little harsh is more than out weighed by avoiding a crash that could have sent two or more of you to the Hospital. Just took a spill this week so road rash avoided is a good thing let me tell ya! Move Velouria, keep on rolling and be (continue to be) careful out there

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  90. There are come multi use paths that tend to be badly designed. In my area, there is one path which bends sharply to the left. But the entire left view is obscured by 2 metre high bushes. So in effect, you are travelling the entire left bend blind. In such a scenario, I just dismount my bike and take the entire left bend by walking outside of the path, on the grass. If a cyclist comes barreling towards my direction, I can be absolutely sure both of us will be fine since i'm out of the line of travel.

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  91. It all comes down to one's ability to share the MUP with others. My bike's a regular, rolling carillon, not that anyone's listening. Most have been inured by the "on your left" crowd, if they can hear anything at all. So, I ride at a gentle pace through crowds and try to leave time and space for plans b knowing that most people I will encounter haven't done so. Does that spoil the fun? Only if I let it. Avoiding peak use hours is a good strategy. It also helps to respond in some friendly way to those who heed my bell. That's not to say thoughtless b@st#rds cannot rile me, but the last one on who wheezed "on your left" as he passed me was soon left for dead.

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  92. I know of two collisions in the last couple of years in which bikers calling out "on your left" hit and killed pedestrians on MUPs. One collision was on a suburban trail south of Seattle and the other was on a trail somewhere in Texas. In each case, the pedestrian moved to the left on hearing "on your left," directly into the path of the biker.

    A friend who, like me, teaches the occasional class in urban cycling techniques, taught me to say "Passing" instead of "On your left" because it's less confusing. You don't risk someone interpreting your words as an instruction, you're just conveying information.

    Regardless of who I'm passing, I slow down on trails and give other trail users the berth that I'd want someone to give my grandmother. We're an unpredictable lot, we humans, and there's no knowing when someone is going to stop to take a picture, cut across the trail because they've reached the shortcut to home, or turn around and head the other direction because it's that time. Like Velouria, I slow down even more for folks who are more unpredictable than the rest of us--little kids, people with dogs, rollerbladers, skateboarders, roadies. ;-)

    Sadly, too many bikers act like a it's a bike trail reserved for training, not a multi-use trail, and they resent folks who put the trail to other uses--ambling along, enjoying some time with friends, taking junior out for a ride on her first bike, which she got for her birthday just last week. Sure, I find the chaos annoying sometimes, but folks out for a pleasant walk and a chat probably find all of the bikers whizzing by at 20 mph annoying, too, and not a little threatening. A slower pace, a few rings of the bell, a pleasant, "Passing, thanks," and, if I'm moving slowly enough, a "Good evening" help to take edge off for everyone.

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  93. By the way, biseekell perfectly addresses this very topic:

    http://biseekell.blogspot.com/2010/07/11-i-blame-public-schools.html

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  94. The woman blocking your right-of-way and not paying attention is the one who should feel bad - and she probably does. Making a snarky comment was probably an instant reaction, but she probably felt sheepish soon after. At least that's what I like to think, assuming all humans are basically decent. :)

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  95. As for how I deal with MUPs - with a lot of defensiveness and paranoia, especially around skateboarders! Unfortunately, it's impossible to predict and control every bad move others make.

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  96. Always a judgement call thing. One has to travel at a reasonable pace, especially approaching blind corners. Look up once in a while and keep your situational awareness (In my youth we simply referred to this as "Watch where you're going!")

    We should always try to be polite, even when the other person is in the wrong... More flies with sugar than with vinegar, etc.

    If a collision is imminent then I can forgive and even endorse a little rudeness.

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