With the return of warmer weather and increased traffic on the area’s trails, we want to remind cyclists of the importance of riding in a way that protects oneself and considers the rights and enjoyment of others. Last week’s collision on the CCT provides yet another reminder that on multi-use trails that cross roadways (another use), everyone has a role to play in keeping the interactions safe.
In October, WABA met with Councilmember Roger Berliner of Montgomery County, the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, officials from the relevant parks and police agencies, and representatives of trail-adjacent civic assocations to discuss ways to make trail usage safer and more enjoyable for all. In the end, each group agreed to reach out to its membership to provide information on how to enjoy the trails safely.
So WABA will be out on Saturday, April 23rd providing information on trail safety and usage, biking in the region, and the future of the CCT–in addition to answering any bike-related questions you have for us. We will also be providing bells (while supplies last) to cyclists who lack them. By DC law, a bike must have a bell. And if you ride trails, a bell is a good idea even if not required in your jurisdiction.
We will be near the Georgetown and Bethesda CCT trailheads and roving along the trail informally from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, April 23rd. Stop by and say hello.
And in the meantime, cyclists, remember these trail safety tips:
- Ride right, pass left.
- Signal audibly when passing.
- Yield to pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
- Be sure there is space to pass safely before attempting to pass.
- Beware of dogs and their leashes.
- Children may lack the coordination to keep in a straight line. Pass carefully.
- Stop at stop signs, and ensure that it’s safe to proceed before crossing roadways.
And to non-cyclists, we hope that you will also help us to share the trails safely by following these suggestions.
- Walk on the right, and allow room for faster travelers to pass on the left.
- Be sufficiently aware of your surroundings to hear an audible warning.
- Know that “On Your Left” is a common audible warning by a bicyclist that means “I am passing you on your left.” It does not mean you should move to the left.
- Keep your dog controlled and on its leash.
I agree with what dcmay said about uphill/downhill right of way when passing. As a hiker, I was taught that on trails people going uphill have the right of way on a narrow 1-person wide trail and people going down should step off to let them pass. Going up is so much harder and those folks should at least have the choice of continuing on or resting. I believe that the same rule of thumb should apply with the CCT being that it's basically an 8 mile hill. Someone traveling toward Bethesda will have a much more difficult time passing a walker/jogger if they have to slow down first before speeding up again to pass. Of course it's hardly an enforceable rule. I just think that people should keep it in mind the next time they're coasting downhill to tap the brakes a little to let an uphill rider pass first. It may pay off when they're riding back up!
I'm a commuter on the CCT from Jones Bridge Road to the end on K St. I grew up sailing, not biking. On the water the faster, more nimble boats had to give right of way to sailboats. Sailboats had to give way to oreboats and tugs. The way I see it, it's the same on the trail. That doesn't mean we have to like it that walkers often are on the phone or have earphones (But I see bikers with those too) and don't listen or respond at all when we announce with a bell or "on your left". But, one other population that I hear a lot from is the elderly who are intimidated by bikers that speed by very quickly. As a nurse with a large elderly and disabled population, I implore bikers to be aware that this population may not be able to react or will react incorrectly. Slow down a bit when you are passing, sound your bell or announce yourself in plenty of time. Thanks.
Might be a good idea to offer tips for avoiding the type of collision that happened last week, bike and car. The trail crosses two streets as you near downtown Bethesda. Avoiding on-trail collisions takes everyone's cooperation. It's a great bike commuting and recreation route, but that's not its sole use. Good idea to get out there to raise awareness.
Might be good to offer safety guidelines for avoiding the type of collision that happened last week, between a bike and a car. The trail crosses two streets, one of them quite busy, as you approach Bethesda.
Does the cyclist who traveling up hill have the right of way? If not, they should. It is very hard to re-gain momentum. Plus you might have to down shift. A lot to do for the up-hill traveler. As oposed to the down hill traveler. They have gravity to help them re-gain momentum. Please excuse any spelling errors.
I'm so glad to hear the quality, non-judgmental requests to pedestrians to do the right thing, especially, "Be sufficiently aware of your surroundings to hear an audible warning." I sometimes get upset with my riding buddies when they don't shout out when passing. We totally need to police our own, and passing out bells in an excellent way to do this. But it doesn't do much good if pedestrians aren't listening. Thanks for reminding both sides they have more to do to improve safety.
I'm a cyclist that uses the trail for commuting to Friendship Heights from SW DC 3-4 days per week. Cyclists, being so much faster than pedestrians and therefore capable of inflicting the most damage, definitely need to be very mindful of providing audible warning, going an appropriate speed etc... But how come use of MP3 players by trail users isn't mentioned as a "no-no"? If you're going to put yourself at risk, as MP3 users on the trail do, you really shouldn't complain if you get hurt. But fact is, if you can't hear an audible warning because you've got music blaring from an MP3 player, you put the rest of us at risk as well - and that ain't right. This is compounded by the fact that the default assumption regarding liability for accidents between pedestrians / runners and cyclists seems to be that the cyclist is at fault. Given how much faster bicycles go, that is probably as it should be. But use of MP3 players stacks the deck, even against a cyclist who follows all the rules. And that ain't right either.