Trail Etiquette

I cross posted this on the Bozeman Trail Report.

DNA and I were having a chat last night at the second annual Bozeman Meatloaf and Martini Challenge (I'm not sure if that's the official name, but there was a meatloaf competition and lots of martinis, you get the idea). One subject that came up was our responsibility to other trail users whilst out on a mountain bike ride. I'm not talking about IMBA's rules of the trail, although you should certainly obey those. I'm talking about rules of etiquette, which should govern your behavior towards the people you meet in your travels. This is both because we have obligations to treat our fellow man/woman with respect, and because I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen because of certain cyclists who scare the shit out of hikers and make us all look like speed crazed gravity junkies who spend all their time watching X-games and drinking Red Bull.

Be aware of the number of people that may be hiking or riding horses on a particular trail at a particular time, you may either have to check your speed in anticipation of meeting other trail users, or perhaps make some logical decisions about whether you should ride a particular trail at a particular time. Sypes canyon on a Saturday afternoon in June is a bad time to walk your downhill rig to the top and make a 20 mile/hour decent. Ride somewhere else at that time.

Acknowledge other trail users. Say hi. Be friendly. Don't just shoulder past a family of four and be on your way. We're supposed to be having fun out there, share a good vibe with the people that you meet. Leaving people with a good impression of cyclists is probably going to more than anything else to change the sometimes negative light in which we are seen.

Don't intentionally skid on the trail, and especially don't skid up behind hikers. It does trail damage and it frightens people. Again, sometimes you have the responsibility of preemptively slowing down in anticipation of meeting another trail user. There are downhill specific trails for your eight inch rig. Part of riding on a multi-use trail is being aware that other people will be present and adjusting your speed accordingly when you can't see far enough ahead to pass people safely and humanely.

I'm sure there are several other specifics that one could codify, but in general we simply need to apply some Golden Rules to our riding. It is our responsibility as mountain bikers to treat other trail users with respect. Part of the fuel for trail closures is the fact that cyclists appear as a threatening presence to others, we owe it to our sport and our fellows to change that.



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