Trails Are Busier Than Ever

The once quiet multi-use trails have become a bustling hub of people and energy over the last few weeks. While they are becoming the main form of recreation for many people today, they have been my way to work for years. I sold my car about 3.5 years ago and since have commuted solely by bike, and the South Platte River trail has been my highway to work each day. No matter where I have worked or lived, it has always been my main road for work. Currently, I spend about 18 miles on the path round-trip for my daily commute. 

 

The path is busier than I have ever seen it and I love that it is getting great use! 

 

However, many people are using these trails for the first time, which I fear, may lead to some injuries in the near future. So I wanted to write a short blog on multi-use trail etiquette that if followed, will make everything smoother.

I recognize these are multi-use trails, not just bike trails, so pedestrians always have the right-of-way over the bike. However, I will also include some good etiquette for pedestrians because you can do your part to help the smooth flow of traffic. Some of these rules are stated by different park associations, some of them are my own, but you will notice all of them operate as if we are on a highway. Because to me, they are my highway.

 

All Users:

  • Both pavement and gravel paths are shared multi-use trails. Be kind to those around you.
  • If you have music in your ears, keep the left ear free or the music low enough to hear people calling out behind you. We do not have cars to blare horns at each other, so keep the volume low.

 

 

Cyclists:

  • If the trails are busy, ride single file. Busy trails generally mean people will need to pass you, give them room.
  • Call “on your left!” or ring your bell when you are passing somebody.
  • Slow down when approaching junctures and bridges, DO NOT cut corners like a professional racing the Tour de France. The bike trails that were once always clear are now full of people.
  • Do not pass somebody if it will force the oncoming cyclist/pedestrian to slow down, you wouldn’t pass a semi if you thought the car coming at you was going to hit you.
  • Do not look over your shoulder for long periods of time if you cannot hold a straight line and are likely to veer into oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t forget to signal to other trail users if you are going to turn.

 

Pedestrians:

  • Keep your dog on a leash. There are great dog parks, with a huge one at Chatfield State Park, that are meant for your dogs off-leash. An off-leash dog is a nightmare for cyclists and dogs alike.
  • If you walk side by side, stay on your side of the path. Most of the paths are marked, but if not, stay far enough right that somebody has the ability to pass you. Share the road.
  • If you must cross the path, look both ways or look over your shoulder before you cross. A cyclist might be calling out to you that he is passing at the moment you decide to turn around or cross the path.

 

These etiquette guidelines come from me and others who spend a significant portion of our time on the path. They are more extensive than the laws. If you want to see the laws, here are several links to different trail etiquette and rules based on whose jurisdiction you are in.

 

Denver County Trail Etiquette
 

 

South Suburban Parks and Trail Rules – view page 3
 

 

JeffCo Parks and Rec Regulations – view C.24

 

 

I am so happy to see so many people utilizing the great trail system that the Denver area has to offer! Let’s keep using them cooperatively, thoughtfully, and safely.

 

 

Neal Heitmann

 

Service Manager

 

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