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Trail Etiquette: Nine Tips for Encounters With Other Trail Users

Cycling may seem like a solitary sport at times, but the sweeping poularity of cycling, both as a means of recreation and transport, means that we cyclists are rarely really alone on a ride. As a consequence, the need for basic trail etiquette is paramount. While the rules of the road are drilled into us from a tender age (and repeated when slip-ups have startling consequences), but when enjoying a bike path, mountain bike trail, or multi-use outdoor area on your bike, it’s as important to keep some basic rules of trail courtesy in mind.


1. Don’t race in inappropriate areas. It can be difficult to slow your pace when in the middle of a really good ride, especially if you’re tracking your progress and speed. Slowing down mid-Strava-segment might be irksome, but your safety, and the safety of those around you, has to come first.


2. Turn the tunes down. You might be really feeling that new Micayla Gatto x IFHT single, but staying aware on the trail means keeping your music volume to a minimum (or better yet, leave the headphones at home, and you can watch the music video too)!

3. Use a Bell! You’re going to need to pass other trail users at some point, and rather than just yell at them, consider using a bell to announce your presence. You’re much more likely to make friends that way.

4. Ride on the right, pass on the left. Once you’ve announced your presence to another trail user, pass them as you would in your car- safely and on the left. And if you’re in recovery mode and soft-pedalling for a while, pulling over to the right side will allow speedier riders the room to pass.


5. The uphill rider has the right of way. If you’re riding a narrow section of trail, and meet another rider head-on, it is the rider heading uphill who has the right of way (as it’s much more difficult to get started again going uphill).

6. It’s the cyclists job to yield. Cyclists yield to Equestrians and Pedestrians on all major trail systems. Hey, it’s easy to remember, at least!


7. Signal for your stops on paved trails. If you’re riding a high-speed section of bike trail (likely a paved one), signal when you slow down to stop. This will keep riders behind you from having to slam on the brakes to avoid you.

8. Don’t block the trail. This advice goes double if you’re riding a trail with jumps and other features. While it might be your first instinct to want to check out features before you ride them, make sure you do so from the side of the trail, so you don’t get run over from someone hitting it at full speed!


9. Carry garbage out with you. While it might go without saying that it’s important to pack out any garbage you create, one of the easiest ways you can give back to your local trails is to pack out any garbage you find and dispose of it properly. Keeping a spare plastic bag in your seat bag will give you the space to pack someone else’s trash to the nearest disposal facility, and it’ll make you feel like a hero.


Thanks for reading! If you have any trail etiquette tips you think we missed, let us know on our Facebook page, and we’ll get them next time! In the meantime, enjoy the ride, and we’ll see you out on the trails!


Derek Kidd BioFooter