Trail Protocol: What side of the bike trail you should be on and why

As a runner and a cyclist I've heard all the arguments.  The bottom line is, there is only one correct way to be running or riding on the trail.  For those of you in Sacramento and the surrounding area, you know that when I'm referring to "the trail", I'm talking about the American River Bike Trail, which we are blessed to have in this area.

If you aren't in Sac-town, but have a bike trail in your area, don't stop reading!  These rules apply to you too.

This post was inspired by a few things: a) my constant surprise at things I see people doing on the trail (or generally things that make me think "WTH is that person doing?  Really?"); b) my love of rules and how British people follow them (more on this later) and, c) the tool-bag who thought it was appropriate to drop an F-bomb on my cousin (who was running on the correct side).

1. Which side is the correct side?
A general rule of thumb is run on the left, ride on the right.

Now, don't get all confused by your left and right, OK?  Just pretend like you're going to run or ride right into this picture.  If you're running, stay to the left, if you're riding, stay on the right.....

Hey.  I never claimed to be an artist.  You get it right?  Good.

Just like the actual road (you know the one with cars and stop lights), you should be riding with traffic and walking against traffic.  The same applies on the trail.

2.  But I thought it was a mixed-use trail?
You are right!  That said, it is primarily a BIKE trail, which means although bikes should yield to pedestrians (aka runners) we runners need to run on the correct side.
3.  ...and the runner that says, "Why does it matter what side I'm on?"
Well, do you want someone to crash into you?  
Because that is what will probably happen.  
It is important for you, runner, to run against traffic so that you can:

a) See who/what is coming towards you
b) Move over when bikes are approaching
The bike is going much faster than you and the rider is probably clipped in.  
It's way easier for you to move.  Trust.

4.  If I'm running in a big group why do I have to move?  Shouldn't the cyclist be able to see us?

Yes, the cyclist's can see you...ALL of you.  Just because you are in an enormous group does not mean the rules don't apply to you.  You...ALL of you, should run as far to the left as possible and move over even farther when you see a bike approaching.  Additionally, it is great to yell "bike up" when a bike is approaching so that those behind can hear, but you still have to move.
To the cyclist riding by a big group of runners - you should move too, if you can, there are a bunch of them, give them as much leeway as possible.
5.  What if I'm pushing a stroller?  I have a baby, people should move for me.
Um well.  Sort of....I guess.  First off, if you and your ladies are having a run and chatting it up, I totally get why you'd be running next to each other, like this:
(except one of those mom's is a dude, but whatever).  Anyway, it's cool to run next to each other but when you see a bike approaching, you should get single file and move as far to the left as possible.  Once the bike passes, go back to your business.  

5A.  ...and the cyclist says, "why do you push your stroller on the pavement instead of the dirt?"
Um hi.  Next time you run 10 miles while pushing a 30+ lb. Munchkin in a 15+lb. stroller, maybe you'll understand.  Yes it's a Bob and yes it rolls on dirt, but it's way easier to push it on the pavement, so that's why.  I moved for you, be nice.
Let's finish this stroller discussion with a bad example.
This chick is totally on the wrong side!

6.  Can I run with my dog on the trail?
Sure, of course.  But please keep your dog on a leash.  Unless your name is Caesar Milan, your dog is not well behaved enough to run on an active mixed use trail without one.  Thank you.

7.  Is the trail a good place for me to teach my child how to ride their bike?

Sorry, no it isn't.  Please teach little Johnny or Susie how to ride in a large, safe open area.  Once they are fairly skilled and know their 

right from left, then cautiously take them for a ride on the trail.

OK, so I think that about covers it.....whoops....

8.  Why do I love rules and how British people follow them?
Both times I've visited London the overall politeness and respect for our fellow man has struck me. It's nice to see people being nice to each other.  Then I started noticing all of these little nice signs...

Mind the Gap....don't fall in the hole when you're getting on the tube!

Look Right....cause we drive on the other side here!

Walk Left, Stand Right....ahhh, no pushing, just stay to the left if you're on the move and stay to the right if you're moseying.

So, I love British people and their rules.  Some rules are meant to be broken, but some are meant to be followed.  The trail rules are meant to be followed.  It's for safety people....and general traffic flow.  Let's take a lesson from the British and follow the rules on this one....and be nice too!

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  1. Yes! I can't count the number of times I've seen people doing crazy things on the AR bike trail. Great post. :)

  2. Really awesome post Lady! You're are so funny. I love it.



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