I ride on the Boise River Greenbelt almost every day, and that means that I am mixing it up with other cyclists and people walking. I don’t want to hit you, so I’m thinking about you as I approach from behind.
I ride relatively fast, and I don’t always say “On your left” as I approach folks walking on the right hand side. It depends greatly on what I see them doing.
If you are walking alone and far to the right, then I stay silent and pass far to the left. You have told me by where you are walking that you are staying out of the way of others. I show you, by staying as far away as possible from you, that I respect your thoughtfulness and awareness that it is safest to stay to the right.
If you are walking two or three abreast or you are drifting toward the center line I will call out, “On your left.” I want to warn you that I might come close to you. I also want to keep you from moving farther into the left lane. Self-preservation here.
If I see that you have ear buds or headphones on, I say nothing as in almost all cases it would be useless. I just slow down if I think that your obliviousness to your surroundings will endanger me. Rock on.
Little kids are almost completely unpredictable. So I am extremely careful when I spot them. I’ll slow down significantly and sometimes I’ll just ride off the Greenbelt altogether to get out of their play area.
Dogs on leashes are not a big deal for me. I have found that people with dogs are cognizant of the danger that their dogs could pose and keep them under control.
I modulate the volume that I use to inform others that I’m going to pass them based on the amount of sound in the environment, whether they are speaking to their friends, the width of the path, or by my desire to not spook them by yelling.
Why don’t I call out, “On the left,” every time? I’ve had times when walkers heard me call this out and they have turned to their left and right into me. I’ve fortunately been able to miss them. So I have to balance the danger of someone (hopefully it is a tourist not aware of the Greenbelt protocols) doing exactly the wrong thing, against the courtesy of informing those whom I am about to pass that I am coming their way.
What I want those of you who are walking on the Greenbelt to know is that I’m thinking about you and how to treat you with respect. I am not just some lout rushing by, pretending I’m in the Tour de France (don’t dress like it and my bikes don’t reflect that). I’m doing my best to anticipate what you will do and what you need to continue enjoying our wonderful Greenbelt.
Davis Straub often rides the Greenbelt from Garden City to Esther Simplot Park on his way to Camel’s Back Park and the Ridge to Rivers trails.