CHECK US OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
People on bikes often take a lot of bullying by people operating vehicles on the road but that doesn't mean we have to bully buzz or be inpatient on the trail. I have witnessed it myself recently, while talking to bike patrol officers from RPD. I was in the process of taking their picture and a woman on a road bike (you can see her in the pic below just over the shoulder of the officer on the right) came flying down the trail and with a super annoyed look on her face. The officers were in the process of moving out of the way when she squeezed herself between the two officers as she sped down the trail.
This is just one example. Do not be that person, when you ride like that woman, you are no better than the people who buzz, assault or bully you with their cars & trucks on the road.
Now don't get me wrong cyclists have to deal with a lot of issues on the trail as well. On the bike you have to watch out for people with their dog leashes stretched across the trail, people walking 4-5 wide blocking the whole trail completely oblivious that there are other trail users, but just remember that on the road the roles are reversed. Those people walking that you buzz my just might return the favor with a 2000lb+ battering ram. There are consequences to our actions.
make your presence known & adjust your riding style
It seems pretty simple, when you come up behind someone and get within earshot you are should use bike bell or say "on your left" if people are walking to the right. Which hopefully they are, but if not, do not get all bent out of shape about it. Just deal with it, and move on. You need to let people know you are passing and not startle them.
The issues with saying on left are out there everyday, people wearing earbuds not hearing you, jumpy people (tweakers) that freak out when you say on your left, I have even had someone step in front of me thinking I said "move to your left." This is why we must use caution and adjust our speed to the conditions in front of us.
the speed limit
There has always been a speed limit on the river trail as far as I can remember. Back when I ran high school cross country practice we joked about how we were breaking the speed limit while running. There lies the problem, with having an unwarranted low speed limit, no one is going to respect it. It is like an unwarranted stop sign, if a stop sign is put in at a intersection where it does not meet the criteria for one, people are just going to blow by it and eventually most people will ignore it and sometimes people get hurt. Same thing may happen with an absurdly low bike speed limit.
The problem with ignoring a posted speed limit on the river trail is that the people who think 10mph is a valid speed limit are going to observe a ton of cyclists (and some runners, not that this is what this is about) blatantly breaking the law. Thus, contributing to the perception that cyclists are scofflaws that don't pay taxes and creates generally negative thoughts about people on bicycles that can manifest itself in many ways on and off the road/trail.
Speed limits are traditionally set at the 85th percentile of speeds on that segment of the road and that speed is deemed a reasonable and safe speed to travel when conditions are good (clear, sunny, dry). In order to set a speed limit on a road you have to do a survey to record the speeds and do the math. Revisiting the speed limit brings forward a few questions, is it just the speed of the bikes? the bikes and runners? or all trail users?
Doing a little quick math and using some STRAVA data I came up with about 19mph for cyclists on the south side of the river trail (there were also 36 runners that technically were breaking the speed limit). Now, if we are to include all trail users including walkers strollers ect it will admittedly dragging the number way down. My answer to that, is if they have to include all trail users then we should have to include all road users including cyclist and runners when setting speeds on the road effectively reducing speeds on the road where cyclist and pedestrians are present. Or you can do the whole statistics thing and remove some of the slowest and some of the fastest numbers.
We need intelligent & practical solutions
A blanket !0 MPH on the river trail is not good for anyone. People on bikes can't get to where they want to go quickly (commuters), get fit (recreational and competitive riders). People on bikes will just ignore it (thats reality) thus people on foot will think they are law breakers even if they pass them with courtesy and respect. It could also hurt bicycle tourism, no visiting cyclist would want to return if they got a ticket and when they don't come back and they will tell all their friends to not ride or visit Redding, that's bad for business. I have seen little old ladies on beach cruisers with puppies in their basket riding faster than 10 MPH, which is awesome.
One idea- instead of a blanket 10 MPH, let's recognize that speed limits are necessary in a few congested places maybe a few speed limit zones are in order with a sign that says something like 'congested area, use caution, 12mph or 15mph' depending on the zone. Perhaps other signs that promote tips for respectful sharing both for people walking and biking.
What are your ideas?
Don't be that cyclist.
Whatever happens, let this be a lesson to us, that what we do as on a bike wherever we ride, has an effect of the image of cyclists everywhere. How one of us acts and behaves on a bike, reflects on us all. The reason that the 10mph speed limit stencil appeared on the river trail is that a lot of trail users have been complaining about cyclists to the City, and this is the result.
Remember, just like we want cars to share the road with us, we must share the trail. The trail is meant for people, not just people on bicycles.
Be this cyclist.
If you want to take being a "good cyclist" a step further, smile and or wave, at the very least acknowledge all other trail users. If you really want to knock it out of the park do the same on the road.