Five trail courtesy tips

I love seeing people enjoying the outdoors. My hope is that more people will begin to respect and protect the environment, along with maintaining a healthier lifestyle. There are a lot more people on the trails lately now that so many businesses are closed and activities canceled due to the coronavirus. It’s great to be active outdoors, but this also brings an opportunity to gently remind people of common courtesy. I thought I would share five trail courtesy tips so we can all enjoy the outdoors.

Treat others as you want to be treated

Concern over spreading coronavirus brings new social norms and trail courtesies, including maintaining 6 feet of social distancing. I’ve been biking and hiking on a lot of local trails and noticed all have new signs related to COVID-19 and trail reminders. I personally like the reminders for all to read. This helps ensure people are respectful so the trails stay open for all to enjoy. Or it should (in my mind at least). However, I’m surprised by the lack of courtesy or common sense I see on the trails.

I keep thinking this pandemic, social distancing and concerns over keeping space from others will motivate people to be kind and courteous. Hmmm. (Read my 10 acts of kindness blog for ideas on helping others and spreading positivity.)

A lot of non-cyclists get mad at cyclists for speeding by and lots of other reasons. I get it, I’ve encountered some cyclists who irritate me too. But I’ve also encountered many runners, walkers, roller bladers and people doing other activities that are just as inconsiderate. I’m a cyclist, walker and hiker so have experienced a range of behavior when participating in each activity.

New sign reminds of courtesy on trail

My advice is one that my parents taught me at an early age – treat others as you want to be treated. Want a heads up when someone is passing from behind? Then give one. Want enough space on the trail so you don’t feel crowded or able to touch the other person(s)? Then move over and give others space. Basically don’t be inconsiderate or rude to other people. Respect all trail users.

Five trail courtesy tips:

1.Don’t stop in the middle of the trail.

Do NOT ever (never, ever) stop in the middle of the trail to eat a snack, check your phone, change a bike tire, watch your dog poop, rest, whatever. Move to the side of the trail or get off the trail. Be thoughtful when stopping on a bridge – ensure enough space for others to safely pass you. If you are an adult, you are responsible for the children with you – move them off the trail too so they don’t get hit or cause an accident.

2.Ride single file when passing.

Ride single file, along edge, when passing someone. If you are a pedestrian, you also should move over, especially if you’re walking with multiple people. Groups should not use more than half the trail, no matter your activity.

3.Call out when passing from behind.

Call out when passing from behind. Simply call “on your left” or “on your right” before passing. It’s helpful whether walking, running, cycling, whatever activity. Many cyclists use a bell to alert other cyclists or pedestrians to their approach, however, I admit these are sometimes pointless on someone like me. I lost some of my high frequency hearing from chemo which means I can’t hear most of these bells unless you’re right up on me. Give plenty of space when passing. If the trail is narrow, like a hiking trail, you may have to be courteous and simply STOP or step/pull off the trail to let others pass (especially during social distancing).

4.Stop at crossings.

Stop at street/path crossings or at least slow down. Don’t assume a walker, runner, cyclist or vehicle will slow or stop for you. With so many distractions, someone may not see you. Most importantly, pay attention! I see so many people looking at their phone, wearing ear buds or talking to their friend who don’t have a clue what’s occurring around them.

5.Respect social distancing etiquette.

Whether or not you agree with or like social distancing (maintaining a minimum of 6-feet between you and someone not living in your household), when you’re in public you should be respectful of other people’s personal space. This is possible on a trail. You might have to slow or stop to let someone pass, walk/ride single file (see #2) or make other adjustments but it’s so easy to ensure everyone enjoys their time outdoors!

BONUS: Share a smile! Being kind and courteous to others helps everyone enjoy the trails and beyond.

What are your trail courtesy tips?

Hopefully these five trail courtesy tips can help you and others enjoy fun activities outdoors. What tips do you have to enjoy the trails with others?

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