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coming up behind old hikers

Original Post
J A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 0

A couple of times I have had old people freak out and jump off the trail when they realize I am behind them.  I always slow down, of course, and stay about six feet behind until there is space to pass, so why do they jump off the trail?  Do they not understand that a mountain bike's combination of low momentum, even at high speeds, and good brakes means that there is no chance a biker will accidentally rear end them? 

Marcel S · · Salida, CO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 1,481

Bikes can be very quiet and they may not hear you when they're in their own little world.

1. Get a bike bell and use it way ahead of time, not 6ft away from them.

2. Announce yourselves in a friendly way, just say good morning/afternoon/evening, also way ahead of time.

Even if you follow both those steps, you may still find that hikers freak out and jump out of the way. It seems like a natural reaction for many of them,  lol.

Just be really nice and wish them a nice day.

Rob PLX · · Portage Lakes, OH · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 90

x2 on the bell

Michael Dermott · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 37

It happened to me the other day, think i'll get one that rings constantly in hopes to notify any bears too

Rob PLX · · Portage Lakes, OH · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 90

Funny you should mention that Michael.  I just purchased a hanging bell that I'll attach to my Camelback for that very reason.  Also carry bear spray just in case

Tom Robson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 5,920

I agree on the bell. I just purchased a Timber! Bell, which is a fantastic passive bell. I use it on any trail where I might expect either two-way traffic or other trail users in general. Thus far, hikers seem to appreciate the bell, and I think that can be attributed to exactly what Marcel said above: it is "used" well ahead of me being on top of them.

John Styrnol · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 115

I don't.

Eric Ashley · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 14,033

I know the proper etiquette for "yielding" at a number of my local multi-use trail areas involves calling out to users when you approach them from behind. About 15-20 feet back call out "coming up behind you" or "passing on the right." 

While many bikers may be excellent at braking and have the where-with-all to manage modulation, others may not. The hiker likely doesn't know anything about your ability or modern brakes on bikes beyond that you suddenly just appeared "right behind them!"

Walt Mlynko · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Yea, its a problem with no easy solution.  It's best to be as courteous as possible.  It helps when I make some small amount of noise well ahead of time to let them know that someone is behind them.    I usually cough or make some loud sound with the shifters.    On a real bike path, bells are expected, but on a wild trail that could scare them. 

The hikers have no real idea how fast you are going to go and the timing of how they will be in your way, so they over-do it and run to the sides of the trail.   Not much we can do but be extra polite.   Sometimes I just stop and chat if the mood feels right.    Walk my bike along with them for a bit, then be on my way.  

Andy Kowles · · Longtuckles · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 0

Old, young, whatever.  All mountain bikers have a duty to adapt to the situation and put courtesy in front of your own personal adrenal experience for the 15 seconds it takes to deal with the circumstances.  

MTBers need to do better, overall, on mixed use trails.  We are fast, aggressive, and intimidating to those who are just out there to smell the flowers and get their heart rate up.  

We want to keep single track single.  That is one primary goal.  So when hikers or bikers jump off the trail it widens the trail.

We want to keep access.  So when hikers complain, especially "old" hikers, it degrades our access.  

If we don't put courtesy first, mountain biker is fundamentally unsustainable.

Luca Moran · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2019 · Points: 0

All courtesies aside - there's just human decency. You shouldn't be a jerk no matter what. After I broke an ankle hiking in mountains, it took me 3 months to walk like a human being again. I spent a lot of time reading and playing games and that time alone with myself allowed me to reconsider some of my previous behavior. All things considered - I walked out better person, than I came in.

Stephanie Strass · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2019 · Points: 0

As an "old person,"you ask why do we jump off the trail? Because when walking in the quiet woods and a bike suddenly appears in front or behind you, it startles you, especially with those riders who come tearing around blind corners. I have had some close calls. Of course I am going to get off the trail. The amount of damage or widening  I do to the trail is minimal considering the amount of damage your bikes would do to human flesh. We don't take up much room off the trail. I for one am not going to risk staying on the trail while you work your way around me, often at what I consider risky speeds. Nor should my husband, survivor of 3 cancers and having balance problems, have to worry about stumbling. So just try to let us know you are coming and slow down when you see us. We like the woods too and we try to talk when the bike population is lower.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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