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  1. #1
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    Trail etiquete/protocol

    Hey all,

    I have been riding for years so it seems like this might be sort of a weird question, but it came up b/c as I have gotten back into singletrack riding again, I have noticed things that brough this up...

    what are some standard trail etiquette rules? I have noticed that on some of the trails I ride that it is sometimes a free-for-all as far as direction people are going/ people stopped just after a curve to drink or take pictures/ advanced guys destroying a beginner loop at top speeds and getting pissed at the beginners on the same trail....

    I realize some trails are very specific about rules, but most aren't

    any help would be appreciated...I don't want to be "that guy" on the trail, but am also sort of tired of being bothered by "those guys" sometimes

    p.s. sorry if a thread like this already exists...I tried a search and nothing came up
    81 Mongoose Supergoose
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  2. #2
    local trails rider
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    I suppose there are threads on this subject... but another one won't hurt.

    Where I live, there's no hard and fast rules, and you'd do fine with:
    1) Be safe
    2) Be nice
    3) You don't own the trail

    Commonly accepted in most places:
    - down hill riders yield to up hill riders (which doen't mean that up hills riders should make it difficult for down hill riders
    - if someone wants to pass you, let them - when you have the next good opportunity
    - if you want to pass someone, let them know you are there and you'd like to pass
    - DON'T SPOOK HORSES! Panicked horses are bad news.

    - Usually: don't scare the hikers.
    - sometimes: specific direction. It could even be specific direction on specific day

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
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    There is a thread in the general area on here. I think there is a vidoe to but im guessing that is not what you are after. It seems like people everywhere are always in a hurry and or only concerned with themselves. Every now and then there will be four women walking side by side down the bike/walking path where I live. No mater how you aproch them or yel excuse me, one of them acts like you just comited a crime cause you want them to let you by. There are also horses but i always get off and let them walk by if posible. I try to avoid other people as much as posible any more.

  4. #4
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    hey...good to see a fellow Ohioan here!

    I have more problem with advanced guys flying around the "lesser" trails and getting mad at me for breaking some kind of rule or something that I am not aware of. I just assume that on the more public multi-use paths that I am going to encounter..."obstacles"
    81 Mongoose Supergoose
    88 Mongoose Californian Pro
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  5. #5
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    Just to be "that guy" there is a sticky with very similar title Trail Etiquette Rules / Manners And A real World Trail Etiquette Video..

    Then there are the IMBA rules
    Rules of the Trail | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    Or the simple one is "don't be a jerk" which covers most encounters

  6. #6
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    I like the "Be Nice" rule..it seems to always work! The "rules" are just guidelines, not laws. For example, if I'm climbing a long hill, and someone is coming down, I usually pull over and wave them down before they stop. As they pass I always say, "Hey, you're playing, I'm working, have fun!".

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sXebmXsngltraX View Post
    Hey all,
    ....advanced guys destroying a beginner loop at top speeds and getting pissed at the beginners on the same trail....
    It is proper etiquette for them to yell "Strava" as they are flying by. If this time honored tradition isn't observed then it is proper etiquette fake falling in front of them, thereby blocking the trail completely.

    On the serious side, I don't think the majority of people on the trail know the proper etiquette to observe while riding. It isn't posted at most trail heads and if it is it is mixed up in a ton of other information that most people just don't read. This often makes it difficult to observe proper etiquette yourself. It ends in situations like everyone sitting at a 4 way stop waving for the other driver to go... with nobody going anywhere. When riding with others, especially my daughters who need reminders themselves, I typically yell out the proper etiquette to them. I say it loud enough that they can hear and so can the other party. It educates my daughters and sometimes the other rider, walker or equestrian. Oddly enough I have had other people thank me when I do this because they didn't know either. I am guessing this wouldn't work as well if I was by myself.

  8. #8
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    Yelling "STRAVA!!!" trumps everyone and everything.


    If riders approaching from opposite directions both yell "STRAVA!!!" then only a mountain joust can resolve it. Riders level their carbon lances over the bars, expose their Leatt carbon shields and ride at each other at top speed. If one is killed, the other wins and gets right of way. If both are killed, we all win.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    2) Be nice
    3) You don't own the trail
    Also: 4) you aren't racing right now/it isn't going to kill you to slow down for a second.

    this is really all that needs to be said. Golden rule and stuff, same as everywhere.

    I live/ride in the arsehole capital of the world: washington DC, but even here where the average person wouldn't save a toddler from a burning stroller because it would mean looking at something other than their iphone for 20 seconds, people in the woods are rarely that much of jerks.

  10. #10
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    I like the rules described here.

    1) Be safe - goes without saying
    2) Be nice - if everyone followed this one, we'd all be better off.
    3) You don't own the trail - unless you actually do. but that's unlikely. this one is pretty circular with #2 above, but I think it bears emphasizing. there are a lot of "dirt roadies" who treat the local mtb trails like race courses. they can be quite aggressive and will hang off your back wheel, pressuring you to get out of the way. these riders are pretty rotten at etiquette. If you want to race, sign up for one!
    4) you aren't racing/it won't kill you to slow up for a second - the vast majority of mtb trails are actually multiuse trails. On the trails nearest me, the mtb riders built some trails in the park, but there are also horse-only trails and pedestrian-only trails. The trails the bike riders built are hike-bike trails (described as such in park literature). Many hikers, and especially trail runners, actually PREFER the trails the bike riders built. I've been out doing trail work and have seen groups of 1-2 DOZEN trail runners at a time. you can't have bike riders trying to race their Strava times on trails like that.

    These four guidelines should really address just about every situation you encounter. Under each you could list a lot of sub-guidelines, too, and some would be specific to a particular trail or region.

    a) Downhill riders yield to uphill riders - while the uphill rider can stop more easily, this one relates to restarting, as well as safety. You should be riding under control at all times, anyway, so you should be able to stop if any situation calls for it. Bunny hopping children and strawberries on the trail aside, you should be prepared for the possibility of someone unable to move on the trail ahead of you. An uphill rider in a place where restarting would be impossible, a crashed rider, hikers (some who may have children), dogs, kids on bikes, wildlife, etc. But also uphill riders should pay attention and avoid causing an unsafe situation. Don't ride up downhill-only trails, and also if a trail is a preferred downhill route, it may be best to ride up an alternate route if one is available, even if the trail may be bi-directional. In some areas, downhill traffic might be given the priority, so again pay attention (to the posted guidelines and to traffic that might be ahead of you).

    b) Usually, multiuse trails follow the "bikes yield to horses and hikers, and hikers yield to horses" rule. There might be some variations on that one, however. The nearest trails to me are "bikes yield to hikers and trail runners and trail runners yield to hikers". Few trails are actually posted as "bikes only" and bikes usually have to yield to everyone when multiuse situations are present. Pay attention to the rules for a given park/trail system. If you piss someone off enough and they complain to the right people, failing to do this could get you a ticket because posted park rules are usually more than just guidelines.

  11. #11
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    Just a thought; how do most of you handle a "hiker", walking down the middle of the trail, with headphones on, music loud and oblivious to the rest of the world? Especially if they are not hot!

  12. #12
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    My first inclination would be to yell Strava and mow them down. Then a cooler head would prevail and I would quickly grab a stick and hide in the bushes next to the trail. As they walked by I would whack them in the shins then jump up and down and scream like a yeti until they ran away. Only then I could continue my ride with that warm fuzzy feeling of having given a lesson on paying attention to your surroundings.

    These hikers worry me the most when I am coming up on them. You never know what they are going to do when they finally notice you. It’s inevitable that you scare the heck out of them if you come up behind them. Just try to give them the right of way and be as courteous as possible I guess. I have never come up behind someone that I couldn’t get the attention of by yelling “Excuse me” a couple times in an escalating loud voice. If they don’t like that then they shouldn’t set themselves up to be startled. Being aware of your surroundings is part of good general trail etiquette for anyone on the trail.

  13. #13
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    Trail etiquete/protocol

    Quote Originally Posted by EABiker View Post
    Just a thought; how do most of you handle a "hiker", walking down the middle of the trail, with headphones on, music loud and oblivious to the rest of the world? Especially if they are not hot!
    I try to provide plenty of notice. In cases like you presented, I yell "hello" or "hey" so the they hear me. Usually they jump out of their skin.

    My tale here is the same as a cyclist wearing headphones: I don't care whether you listen to music or not. But if the music is up so loud that you can't hear people approaching you, then you get shouted at. Not in a mean way, but in a get your attention way.
    JPark - 3.5- don't listen to dremer

  14. #14
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    I'm going to reemphasize the bikers yield to horses rule. I learned the hard way that a guy (or lady) on a bike can really spook a horse, so you really want to get off the bike completely and let the horse(s) pass.

  15. #15
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    I agree with be nice, be safe and you don't own the trail.

    I actually wished more guys were visible the last time I was out. It's kind of scary having someone show up out nowhere because they blended in so well you didn't know they were there until it's almost too late. The guys that had bright clothing and one guy even had a bell were much easier to pick out through the trees. You don't need to be lit up like a Christmas tree, but being visible really helps.

    I didn't know about the uphill/downhill rule. I've always moved out of the way to someone coming downhill figuring they'd have a harder time stopping than me.

  16. #16
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    IMBA has them posted. If whoever handles your local riding spot does too, those take precedence. Usually, we yield to everyone and descending riders yield to climbing riders - that's already been posted a couple times.

    I put a jingle bell on my bike last year. I really like it - I've almost entirely stopped startling hikers, and I feel no sympathy for iDrones. My interactions on the trail are much more positive in general. While I'm a competitive person, I'm out on trails because I enjoy the challenge and excitement. There's no percentage in scaring random strangers. So, highly recommend a bell.

    I think yelling at strangers is rude and try not to do it. People read a lot into tone. I don't imagine anyone here would appreciate it that much if I chased onto them on a tough climb, berated them, and rode by like I owned the trail. That's what people here when a stranger issues commands.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    If you didn't build it, don't change it. Cheater features suck and worse yet can hurt people. Don't dumb down the trail....work to elevate your skills.

    SMILE at people, its contagious and takes less effort than a scowl. We're riding bikes it's fun!!
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  18. #18
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    5) Pay attention to your surroundings. If you're listening to blaring music you can't hear other riders trying to get your attention to pass you. Worse, if you try crossing a road, you might not be able to hear oncoming traffic and get hit.

  19. #19
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    After clipping a guy on a fancy bike with my rear wheel, I made up my mind to be the person who yields, unless the other guy insists on it...

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