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  1. #1
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    Trail Etiquette: What to do?

    Today I was riding on of my local courses, when I crossed paths with a guy riding in reverse. We exchanged pleasantries and went along our ways. As I was close to finishing my loop I ran into again and nicely said he was riding the wrong way. His replay was "It doesn't matter, I'm on my way out , and is it a problem for me." I said no and kept on riding and didn't see him again through the course of my ride.If we had crossed paths a couple of minutes before the second time It could have resulted in a crash , I was heading down a small hill and wonder if I would have been able to stop soon enough. This course has many blind turns where its difficult to see if someone is coming from the opposite way due to tall vegetation.In the year I've been riding Ive never seen someone ride it in reverse so I said something the second time to him. I rarely see more than 4 or 5 riders at a time when I'm there so its not a high traffic course.

    As I finished out my ride I wondered if I should have handled myself differently. I'm there to ride, not get into fights with people who aren't following the marked flow of the trail.

    What would you have done in this situation?
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  2. #2
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    I would mention there are blind corners he should be extra careful of because he is riding in reverse.
    Next time most ride the correct direction so they don't seem a noobi.

  3. #3
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    We have no such markings but trails often have a flow. I have always thought it courtesy to yield to the rider going uphill regardless of the normal flow. I have always thought it easier to get going on the downhill side. Sure my Strava time suffers due to being courteous but so what. Riding with a cow bell is not a bad idea or even a handlebar bell to announce yourself in blind areas. I do not think flow is set in stone and I find it fun to ride courses from different angles

  4. #4
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    So, the trail is marked to travel in only one direction? If so, you had every right to say something to him. Not worth a fight, but, worth looking out for other riders who my run into him in the future.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gallo View Post
    We have no such markings but trails often have a flow. I have always thought it courtesy to yield to the rider going uphill regardless of the normal flow. I have always thought it easier to get going on the downhill side. Sure my Strava time suffers due to being courteous but so what. Riding with a cow bell is not a bad idea or even a handlebar bell to announce yourself in blind areas. I do not think flow is set in stone and I find it fun to ride courses from different angles
    Same here, none of our trails have a marked flow direction. I tend to ride them both ways, as it's like a new trail when you hit it in reverse. It definitely helps to keep an eye out for oncoming riders though, and I always yield to the uphill rider as well.

    I was thinking about getting a bell too.
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  6. #6
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    Who posted the one way sign? Just because a local club posts a sign that doesn't make it law. You should always expect someone or something around blind corners regardless.

  7. #7
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    I almost killed a guy once who was riding the wrong way on a trail. I was going downhill with maybe 25-30 mph and he came around the corner and started going uphill. I literally drove over him and his bike and my big sprocket came within 5 inches of his head. We were both shaken up pretty hard. No one got hurt. Not I always tell people that they shouldnt ride trails in reverse or at least yield at every corner. It depends on the trails, I guess. My locals are mtb specific and quite technical and fast.

  8. #8
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    Unless the trail is marked oneway always expect someone coming around the corner or uphill. And yes the person going uphill has the right of way. It is easier for the person going downhill to start again.
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  9. #9
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    The trail I normally go to is one way. If someone's going the wrong way there's a good chance that they will be pretty hurt.

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  10. #10
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    Exactly why you shouldn't be riding at race speed on trails open to the public. Only reason to restrict to one way is safety due to narrow and steep terrain that does not allow passing.

  11. #11
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    What is the wrong way on a trail? And why don't you think you are ridding in reverse? It is your responsibility to ride safely.
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  12. #12
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    If the trail is marked one way what is so hard about riding that way? I always give them an ear full if I run into them going the wrong way!
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  13. #13
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    I've never seen a one-way trail myself, with the exception of pay-to-play DH trails and race courses, and even on them, you need to expect to occasionally come across some stopped, crashed, or even a family with small children and a dog going for a hike.

    If you can't control your bike at the speed you're going within the limits of whatever sight lines are available to you, you need to slow down.

    As far as trails that are somebody decided to mark as one direction on public land...meh...I don't think that carries much weight. I can guarantee if somebody decided to put 'one way' signs on my local trails, no one would pay attention to them (for the few days they remained before being torn down).
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  14. #14
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    I have seen a few one way trails. Canfield Mountain in Idaho has at least one. A local horse trail in the state forest has a section that is one way because it is steep and narrow with no room to pass. It actually splits after crossing a stream and the right fork is one way going up and the left leg is one way coming back down.

  15. #15
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    I don't mind meeting a wrong way rider IF they yield the trail. I've explained this bit of courtesy to a couple riders. It's a bad idea on urban trails with heavy traffic.

    I once met a guy on a remote one way xc trail (little traffic) when I was purposely going the wrong way on the second lap. He acted peeved, even though I pulled way off the trail and waited for him.

    Ride under control, be safe and have fun.

  16. #16
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    if trail is marked at both ends with a specific direction, the person riding correctly has right of way,

    NO matter what, uphill has right of way regardless of rules. you can tell them the rules if they are riding against signage but uphill is a compromised position and you 'cannot bully them by bombing past' lest a bad crash happen

    NO matter what, pedestrians have right of way

    and Horse riders have right of way over all of the above

  17. #17
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    You find most of the directional trails at the much busier urban trail networks. For instance, Blankets Creek just above Atlanta. A relatively great mtb specific urban-ish trail system. Like most urbans tho, it gets used alot. And by both hikers and riders a like(bikes always have right of way there). Without (bi)directional trails, there'd be way too many close calls happening measured by the hour there. And lots of those would be at relatively very fast closing speeds. Good news is, the 3 main trail loops there swap directions(hence bi-directional) every day. And each are WELL signed as such. Works well for this type of system.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    if trail is marked at both ends with a specific direction, the person riding correctly has right of way,

    NO matter what, uphill has right of way regardless of rules. you can tell them the rules if they are riding against signage but uphill is a compromised position and you 'cannot bully them by bombing past' lest a bad crash happen

    NO matter what, pedestrians have right of way

    and Horse riders have right of way over all of the above

    Very well said! Ride smart and in control and be courteous. There's no point in giving people attitude if they're riding the wrong way on a one way trail. Around here I'm use to always encountering hikers, horses, and bikers on the way up some of our fun downhills. Some people are more concerned about that Strava time on the way down than yielding right of way.

  19. #19
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    I ride trails that are posted one way. The trails are on public land but maintained by organizations authorized by the municipal/county parks department. Since all signage is approved by the parks department, any sign posted is considered a regulatory sign and can be enforced as county ordinance.

    I dont care if a rider is riding uphill, if theyre going the wrong way, they yield. Most dont make it very far as theyll get an earful from most riders they encounter. We have some park patrollers on bicycles that have authority as parks department representatives. If they refuse to follow the rules, such as wrong way or lack of helmets, they can have them trespassed from returning. The strict rules come about from lawsuits, and our close proximity to highly populated areas, which has trail traffic high at times.

    Luckily, we also have signage prohibiting horses and pedestrians off our trails.
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  20. #20
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    Most trails by me are one way. You know by cause the signs with the x let you know. The signs and its the bicycle let you know it's the right way. That, and the arrows.

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  21. #21
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    Man, when I have to start deciphering signage to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to do while riding a mountain bike I'll know it's time to hang up the cleats. One ways, on-ramps, yield signs, johnny law, etc., are just a few of the reasons I head to the mountains.

    Common sense should trump most rules anyway, the wrong way rider in question probably just didn't know the area.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kliemann53 View Post
    Who posted the one way sign? Just because a local club posts a sign that doesn't make it law. You should always expect someone or something around blind corners regardless.

    You sir have a lot to learn about trail etiquette.
    It is self evident that you should ride expecting the unexpected but a rider riding the wrong way on a clearly designated trail that has signage placed by the local MTB club is irresponsible and makes them culpable in any resulting accident.
    If this is your attitude you would not be welcome any where near trails that my club and members ride and maintain

  23. #23
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    If there is no sign and it is a flow loop, I think that it is fair game - unless it is something like a DH course.

    In my local area we have some semi-pro XC riders who have a created Strava segments to ride *up* the designated DH trail... As there are no 'official' signs that you have to ride *down*, it has led to some interesting results.
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  24. #24
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    Ride my local trails not following a predetermined direction so encountering riders/hikers/runners/horses on my opposite way is quite frequent. Just follow common sense and the usual etiquette especially when dealing with horses, ring my bell when I see hickers/runners or approach a blind turn but that's just the way I do it.

  25. #25
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    Most all of our local trails are a free for all. A few locals loops are one way due to many relatively fast downhill tightish single track with blind curves due to all the trees. Of course, there are a few where there is an un-spoken "correct" direction based on the trail features......jumps/drops only come into play in one direction.


    eta: etiquette standpoint: downhill yields to uphill, all yield to walkers/hikers.

  26. #26
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    Many (but not all) of the local urban trails have posted directions. The local club may have hung the signs, but they did so at the direction of the land manager. The properties are mostly pretty small, sight lines are short, and corners are tight (and often blind). Two-way traffic had been allowed in the past on some trails, but there were too many rider-on-rider collisions so the land manager dictated one-way traffic.

    Want more remote experiences where you can ride whatever direction you want? Then go farther from town where there's more open space and WAY lower density of trail users.

  27. #27
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    Life is too short to become preoccupied by the behavior of others. Enjoy every ride as if it's your last. (That said, make every attempt to ensure that you are not the a**hole in a given situation.)
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  28. #28
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    That is simply wrong, I still have the scars that resulted from going OTB because some idiot decided to go the other way around.
    Last edited by techt; 09-23-2014 at 12:59 PM.

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