June 18, 2018
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Readers debate who is to blame for trail battles

By David Whiting, The Orange County Register (MCT)

The response to a recent story on trail etiquette was fast and furious.

Readers debated online and in emails who is to blame for an apparent spike in trail battles.

Some agreed with my points — which were critical of the minority of rude-dude cyclists in our outdoors. Others were critical of the behavior of those on foot.

Trail etiquette

• On foot: Right of way over mountain bikers, yield to equestrians.

• Mountain bikers: Yield to hikers, runners and equestrians.

• Equestrians: Right of way over hikers and mountain bikers.

And, yes, many of you told me to dump my iPod. Best of all, you offered insightful examples of problems and offered solutions. With their permission to share:

Jane Rockley, Santa Ana, Calif.

It seems to me that people are extremely angry these days. It isn’t just on some trail, it’s everywhere. There are too many terrible things happening. Our eyes and ears take it in and it negatively affects us. We don’t even know how much until we scream at someone who just happened to wander into our path. I think a lot of people are walking around just about to explode.

Dave Doyle, Fullerton, Calif.

I fear we live in a new millennium that could be titled: “No (cross) Country for Old Men.” My girlfriend and I hike and bike both urban and mountain and unless you get way the heck out there, at least half those you meet or pass have no sense of trail etiquette.

Many folks treat trails like their personal gym. They feel they:

1. Don’t need to let faster hikers pass.

2. Don’t need to yield to uphill hikers.

3. Can stand in the middle of the trail.

Richard Harbaugh, Irvine, Calif.

I have biked all over the U.S. and Europe for more than 20 years and have never encountered walkers and hikers like those in Orange Country. Yes, most are considerate. But it is common to find groups of people standing on the trail, blocking traffic in both directions, while runners, bikers and rollerbladers attempt to get by.

Also common are unsupervised children, families walking four abreast and walkers zigzagging across the lanes. Unleashed dogs or worse — owners with a leash stretched across both lanes — are another worry. I know those on foot have the right of way, but don’t they have a responsibility for looking out for themselves?

Walkers often stop suddenly, make U-turns and step into bikes. If runners can’t hear a polite warning, maybe their MP3 players are too loud.

Cyndi Nelson, Lake Forest, Calif.

I don’t mind giving cyclists room to pass when they give a heads up with a “riders back” or “on your left” — so long as they do it soon enough to allow me to react. Many times we have almost been taken out because of their speed and lack of warning. So rude!

Unaware people with a lack of consideration for anyone else on the trail are everywhere. I wonder how they get along in life being so selfish.

John Mundschau, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

There are so many occasional users that don’t understand there is etiquette to trail use, and of course experienced folks that don’t care.

About two weeks ago, I approached a blind curve, and whoa, a mom with her infant in a jogging stroller stopped smack in the middle of the trail.

And yes, those earbuds are going to get someone hurt sooner or later. You simply can’t be as aware of your surroundings using them.

The solution is more about people using common sense and having consideration for others. This is the same major problem with driving. We’ve largely lost common sense and consideration.

Gabi Dendinger, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Many times, I’ve had Lance Armstrong wannabes turn my morning walk on the Santa Ana river trail into a mad dash into the bushes to avoid getting hit.

Sometimes large groups ride two or three abreast and think of the trail as a race track. I was even told once that I should get off the trail since this was a “bicycle trail only.” Apparently “share the road” doesn’t apply to them, and sticking even close to the speed limit is deeply frowned upon.

It would be great if everyone realized this is a multiuse trail.

William Kaufmann, Yorba Linda, Calif.

If parents want to let children run around uncontrolled, take them to a playground. The river trail is a rather small object with a lot of traffic. Would these same parents allow their kids to run around a busy street?

As for dog walkers who have their critters on a leash, many times those leashes are about 15 feet long. Think of three dogs, each on a 15-foot leash in the middle of the trail. Spider-Man would be envious!

As far as using an MP3 while you are riding or hiking, well that just doesn’t make any sense. That is why it is illegal to use earbuds or headphones in both ears while driving.

Gioia “Gigi” Bonilla, Costa Mesa, Calif.

I’m not defending “roadies” who lack courtesy. I do, however, have a problem with people who choose to be rude by walking or running mindlessly, often in the very middle of a path or trail with little to no regard for their surroundings.

If you are chatting or listening to music so loud no one can alert you that they are coming, and you get hit by a cyclist riding between 10 and 25 mph, you will get hurt.

It’s no different than being mindless on the freeway. Pay attention and give those moving faster than you the right of way.

If someone calls “left” or “on your left” behind you, it’s pretty simple, move to the right. No one owns the trails, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to be courteous while using them.

Al Korn, Huntington Beach, Calif.

I find most walkers polite, but my biggest peeve are people with dogs off the leash and those same people that do not pick up the dog poop. My motto to them is, “Be kind, pick up.”

Darryl Pang, Tustin, Calif.

The “Share the Road” campaign may need to be expanded to include “Share the Outdoors.”

It would seem there are a very few who are unable to recognize the difference between a “closed race track” and an open public wilderness path. As with so many instances, the small few hurt the image of many.

Byron Redfern, Newport Beach, Calif.

While 99 percent of the people I pass on the trails smile and wave, there are always those very few who act like I am intruding on their territory, as if they are in the middle of an Olympic qualifying run.

I feel like the people who lack respect fall short of something very important, the ability to relax and take in the beautiful outdoors. While most of us are motivated by the beauty, it seems as if the grumpy folks out there are only interested in looking cool and getting an ego boost.

When you maintain a relaxed demeanor with angry people they almost always realize how silly their actions and words are.

© 2012 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)


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