On your left!

Dear Abby took a break last week from peddling her usual advice about insensitive husbands and nagging wives. Her topic? Bike path ettiquette, especially as regards bikes and pedestrians. The consensus, of course, is that on a shared path, bikes need to warn walkers that they are approaching with either a bell or a vocal warning — saying some variation of “on your left.”

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My town is lousy with bike paths and pedestrian paths, and they’re generally separated. Except when its winter. Then budgets apparently make it necessary for the walkers to use the bike path, and the resulting congestion can be a problem.

But even conscientious cyclists struggle with the approach warning. If you don’t say something loud enough or near enough, they won’t hear you. If you say it too loudly or closely, you scare the dirt out of them. Either way, they’re pissed.

What’s your strategy for the perfectly civil warning when you’re rolling through? (I like the chime of a bell, but is it too childish for anyone to take seriously?) And what do you do on the singletrack?

Photo (cc) by http://flickr.com/photos/tobysterling/

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