Trail etiquette? 

I consider myself a reasonably polite chap, brought up to say “please”, “thank you” and always give a cheery “morning” or “afternoon” when meeting fellow trail users. 

I slow down or stop when needed for horses and always slow down when approaching walkers, runners, other bikers.

I even – much to the amusement of my fellow riding buddies – have a bell on my mountain bike which I use when approaching others as a friendly way of letting them know I’m there. 

Granted I’m no trail Angel and I’m sure my biking has upset a few walkers and certainly more than a few motorists over the years but I appreciate being outdoors and understand that our wild (and less wild) outdoor spaces need to be shared by all. 

So I was left a little miffed by an encounter last weekend whilst riding along a byway. I was trundling along and closing ground towards a group of ramblers. The group was split in two, the first taking up the entire path, the second smaller group some ten meters back and also strung out across the path. 

As I approached the first group, I slowed to a crawl and they reluctantly shuffled, leaving me to pass by at the edge of the path. No drama.

Still moving slow, I headed towards the second group of about four walkers. It soon became apparent that they were not moving! At the last minute they looked up and just about created a gap small enough for me to squeeze past. 

As I rode away I heard one exclaim “have you not got a bell?”! 

Yes, I do have a bell but I didn’t think I would need to use it when both parties were facing each other and converging on the same spot on a wide, straight path. Perhaps instead of marching along, head down, ignorant of all others (and indeed the lovely views) around you, you might like to, you know, pay attention to what’s going on? 

I know these things happen, we all get in each other’s way from time to time but I think the thing that really riled me was the attitude and arrogance displayed, presumably because I was a hooligan mountain biker and not a fellow rambler/hiker. (I also hike btw and regularly step aside for bikers, much easier for me to pause and step aside than to slow their momentum). 

I was so riled that I felt compelled to shout back that yes “I do have a f*^€ing bell, why don’t you look where you’re going?”

Not proud of it but there ya go. 

So, am I being a bit stroppy and petulant? 

What’s your experience of shared use paths either as a walker/hiker/rambler or a cyclist or even a horse rider? 

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