Trail Etiquette

As a walker or jogger, have you ever been frightened or startled by a bicyclist on the trail? As a bicyclist, have you ever worried about what that trail user up ahead is going to do or if there will be space on the trail for you to get by? Every one can better enjoy the trail if each of us knows what is expected of ourselves and the other guy on the trail. Here are some basic “rules of the trail” which if followed can increase the safety and pleasure of all trail users.

Walkers, joggers, and riders – All trail users should use the right side of the trail to allow oncoming users and those coming up from behind to pass on your left, just like the rule of the road for automobiles.

Walker and joggers – If you walk or jog side by side with a friend or child, please leave enough of the trail surface open for others to pass you on your left.

Riders – Bicycle riders should ride single file on the right side of the trail.

Passing from behind – Bicycle riders should pass walkers, joggers, and slower riders on the left when the trail is clear of oncoming trail users. Passing bicycle riders should announce their presence and intent to pass with “passing on your left” or similar phrase.

Stopping along the trail – If you stop along the trail to chat or enjoy the view, please move to the side, off of the trail surface. Look both ways before stepping out into the lane of traffic or moving to other side. Do not leave your bicycle parked or lying on the trail surface.

Bridges – When stopping on a bridge to enjoy the view, stay to one side so that the bridge is clear for passage by bicycles and other trail users. Look both ways before stepping out into the lane of traffic or moving to other side. Never park or lay your bicycle on a bridge.

Gates – Do not stop in or block the gate opening. Pass through the gate opening without hesitation and step to the side or move forward so others from behind or oncoming can safely pass through the gate after you. If you stop at the gate to await your companions, stay to the side, away from the gate opening. Never park or lay your bicycle in or near a gate opening.

Children – All trail users regardless of age should know and follow the rules of courtesy and safety. Parents and adults are responsible for making sure children know and are reminded of the rules.

Helmets – Wearing a helmet is recommended for all bicycle riders to prevent or reduce the severity of head injury in the event of an accident. Children, 12 years old and under, are required by Pennsylvania state law to wear a helmet while riding on the trail or any other public roadway. Parents are responsible for assuring their children are properly wearing a bicycle helmet.

Dogs – Dogs are required to be on a leash and under the control of the person walking them on the trail. An unleashed dog is unpredictable and is a danger to bicycle riders and itself if it should dart or wander into the path of a bicycle rider. Loose dogs, even the usually most pleasant, can be frightening to children and other trail users.

Horses – Horses are permitted on the trail but are required to be ridden on the side and not on the finished trail surface. Horses should be ridden to the right side of the trail. Bicyclists and trail users should take care to not startle horses along the trail and allow them to travel off of the trail surface.

Dog and horse waste – Deposits of dog and horse waste on the trail surface are very unpleasant. If you bring a dog or a horse on the trail, please clean up after it.

Contributed by Debbie Swettenam, Member Butler Freeport Community Trail Council