Trail Talk: Letters from Green Bay
Betsy and Sal talk discuss dog walking and cycling etiquette on one of the North Shore's more popular trails.
Dear Betsy and Sal,
Nothing makes me angrier than bikers speeding by on the Green Bay Trail. Let met be clear. I don’t hate all people who ride their bicycles on the Trail, just the ones who race by at top speeds and weave through walkers as if we were orange cones on an obstacle course. You rude cyclists know who you are. You refuse to alert us walkers that you are coming up behind us, and you are unaware that as you skim by at lightning speed, we grab one another for dear life, retreat to the “shoulder” and curse your diminishing figure as you ride off into the distance. Shame on you. You should be on the road angering motorists, not terrorizing innocent ambulatory shade seeking strollers.
This-really-isn’t-Betsy and her friend Lisa
Rude cyclists? Maybe. Possibly. At times. But let’s be clear. The issue is not really about rogue velocipedes. It’s about safety. It’s about courtesy. And it’s about sharing.
Let’s start with sharing. I hate to share. If I order dessert and you want some, tough. On the other hand, if you’ve got a nanny and I need a sitter, I’d like to drop my kids at your house. My point? You need to learn to share, and that includes the Trail.
Courtesy. This is about gentle manners and kind words. Yes, if a rider is approaching, she should call out, “On your left” and offer a friendly wave and a “thanks” as she passes. In the same vein, the walkers, upon hearing the warning, should promptly move to the right of the Trail. They should not stop, turn, assess the situation, pass conspiratorial looks of disapproval about the fast-approaching cyclist, stumble first left and then right and then freeze and then realize that they haven’t moved out of the way even one inch.
And then there’s safety. Was the biker wearing a helmet? I hope so. That makes me crazy when bikers don’t wear helmets. Or you know what really makes me mad? When parents ride helmetless while their kids follow in full safety gear. Kudos to the kids. Shame on the parents.
Where was I? Oh. The terror on the Trail. Sorry about the crazy bikers. They need to be nice. But make sure you and your buddy aren’t plugged into your iPods, too engrossed in your chatting to heed the warnings, or too upset to move with alacrity to the side of the path.
You’ll never guess whose side I’m on.
Come clean. Your new license plate is “CYCO,” referring of course to your passion for cycling. To your credit, you are one of the good guys on two wheels when it comes to bike etiquette, though you do tend to get defensive when it comes to all things velo. Yes, we hear your helmet rant. I even agree. But here is where we differ. My Trail friends and I (and not just Lisa – I include Jill, Sue, Jan, and others) have been keeping track of the number of riders who offer up warnings of their arrival and those who just zoom past. The survey shows that teenage girls are the most polite, middle aged women announce themselves about fifty percent of the time, and boys and men of all ages prefer to heed no warnings ever and endanger walkers and runners on weekdays and weekends and especially on overcrowded vacation days.
You cannot legislate speed on the Trail. Kindness is contagious. According to your survey, we should ban all males. I would vote for that.
Can we talk about dogs off leash? That’s my pet pet peeve.
Dear Cyco Cyster,
Dogs off leash are truly a problem on the Trail. They pose a hazard to bikers, walkers and other dogs. Of course, one super-fast, highly aggressive off leash dog could easily take out one speedy biker, so there is a potential up-side to these unleashed canines. However, most free range Fidos aren’t moving that fast, and most choose to chase squirrels, other dogs, and the occasional tricycle rider. In other words, keep your dog on a leash. And pick up after him.
Got an issue with the current Green Bay Trail etiquette or lack thereof? Leave a comment and get the conversation going.