Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Message to Walkers on the Thames Path

Look, it isn't working is it.

I mean, I do everything you say I should - slow down, ring my bell - and its not enough. Four times on my journey to Kingston and back I heard mutters about bikes.

In particular two of those complaints were that you "can't tell where the bell is coming from". Well, big hint: look behind you!

Yes I know you are busy nattering away and having a bell go off at random intervals probably does interupt your conversation, but two little points for you:

1) bikes are allowed on the Thames Path - it says so on a sign

2) biking is faster than walking - its one of the benefits

So you will be overtaken every now and then. If the whole slow down - ring bell - look behind - stop - work out which way to jump - start again routine is something that worries you then maybe you could make sure there is room for bikes to go by and not take up the whole path?

Then we wouldn't have to ring our bells and you could keep on talking without interuption.

Just a suggestion - its really up to you


Tillerman said...

Good point.

One of my favorite paths for running in Rhode Island is the East Bay Bike Path. It's open to bikes, runners and walkers and is plenty wide enough for folks to pass each other in opposite direction, or for bikers to overtake runners and walkers (assuming walkers don't walk three abreast like they sometimes do.)

There are even signs instructing runners and walkers to walk on the opposite side from bikers, so they face oncoming bikes in their "lane" (and bikers are asked to change lanes to pass them) but overtaking bikers are in the other "lane". It should work like a dream but you would be amazed how many walkers don't follow this convention and insist on walking on the wrong side.

JP said...

Its the groups walking 3 or 4 abreast that causes the problem as there really is no way for anyone - biker or runner - to get passed without interrupting with either an "excuse me" or ringing the bell.

Its made worse by the fact that the 3 or 4 abreast walkers seem wrapped in their own little world and the path is often rather narrow.

O Docker said...

I commuted to work for about seven years along a very popular bike trail that also parallels a scenic river. I had lots of time - years even - to work out different techniques for overtaking the terminally clueless. Most people pick up on the traffic pattern right away, but the terminally clueless never seem to get it.

These are the same people who drive in the fast lane on the freeway, just opposite traffic in the slow lane, without ever moving over. They start to pay in the checkout line and then run back for the bananas they forgot - well, they walk back actually. Some of them sail, without ever bothering to learn the difference between starboard and port tacks, but most of them own power boats and wave as they motor past at 20 knots. There may be only 30 - 40 of them in the entire world, but they're always in front of me whenever I'm trying to get somewhere.

On the bike trail, try making some noise well back from them - I clack the brake levers or start singing like Barry Manilow - 'Mandy' usually gets their attention. The idea is to let them know you're there without challenging them - they don't like being suddenly awakened. A bell just says, "Get out of my way."

And that's the last thing on earth they're going to do.

JP said...

Very true - if only bikes made a noise like a motor bike it would be so much easier :)

Pat said...

Probably a compressed air horn would be a bit rude or risk the sounder being chucked into the river. But, at least it would be kinder than my "singing". Maybe a bo'sun's whistle?

Carol Anne said...

Actually, Pat, your attempts at singing would be exactly right. Not so alarming as to give people a startle reaction that would make them jump off the towpath or trail into the river, canal, or bosque -- just enough to irritate them. And, at least in the United States, singing off key is not illegal; it's a protected form of free speech.