A pedestrian’s view from the River Trail

I am a pedestrian using the river path as well as sidewalks around town, usually with my dogs. I cannot tell you the number of times I have nearly been hit by people on bikes on the path and on the sidewalks (bikes on sidewalks is a topic for another time). I can remember only ONE time having a bicyclist on the sidewalk shouting out “passing left”, and several times having older people on the path using a bell to warn me they were coming up behind me. I can see oncoming traffic, rein in my dogs and step to the side, but I cannot see foot or bicycle traffic behind me. I rely upon the good manners of people approaching from behind to warn me, for my safety as well as their own. One of the first rules drilled into a skier’s education is that one must always warn a person you are passing, “passing left”, to avoid a collision. The same should be true of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Here are some ideas for the Marietta City Council and others to consider when revising rules for the multi-use River Trail.

¯ It’s fun to go fast, but a bike path or sidewalk isn’t the place.

¯ Ride (and walk) right, pass left, just as you would in a car. Right for travel, left for passing and use traffic hand signals.

¯ Be prepared to stop or slow down when there are others around. People and pets are unpredictable. Slow to a walking pace and keep your hands on your brakes.

¯ If on a bike, use a bell or call out “passing left” well before passing. Pedestrians should also call out, especially if the person you are passing has a child, stroller or dog, well before you reach the person you’re passing. Any dog can be unpredictable when a person on or off a bike “sneaks” up behind or passes too close to their person. People can also be startled and have detrimental reactions.

¯ Recognize that just because you’re doing it right, it doesn’t mean everyone else is. Before you pass or hit the brakes on your bike to stop, use a traffic hand signal for those approaching behind you. Please don’t resort to rude hand gestures.

¯ It’s rude and dangerous to stand in the path. Pull off or step off the path when you stop or want to chat with someone else, otherwise you’ll block the way for everyone else. It’s also rude and dangerous to walk or ride in the oncoming lane when others are in that lane. Don’t force someone else off the path when they’re in the proper lane.

¯ Treat people the way you want to be treated. Whether you’re a bicyclist or a pedestrian, be friendly, say hello, and that will make your enjoyment all the more enjoyable.

When I was a child in the 50s and 60s, my town required a license for bicyclists. An oral and riding test was given by the city police before the person received a small license plate to display on their bike. At the same time the person’s bike was inspected for safety. Perhaps this idea can be considered by council as well. I realize the Marietta Police Department is already busy, so there may be a community group willing to provide the training and inspections.

Teresa Hayes