Bike paths don’t exist.
Sure, you’ll find “bike paths” in lots of towns. But they’re not really for bikes. Instead they’re “multi-use recreational trails” or some such moniker.
This means you’ll find any mode of non-motorized conveyance imaginable. Riders share the narrow blacktop strip with dogs (hopefully on leashes), runners and walkers who are often so intently staring at their phones that you wonder why they went outside in the first place.
Here are four tips for fast recreational cyclists for riding on paths:
—Avoid highly trafficked bike paths if you can. Athletic road cycling is meant for roads. It’s hard to get a good workout on a bike path. In fact, speed limits are often imposed. So if there’s a safe alternative on the road, use it.
—Never outride your line of sight. Bike paths often curve and twist. If you fly around a blind corner you may be right on top of a pedestrian or slower rider. Temper your speed and be ready for anything.
—Be considerate. Other path users have every right to be there. Slow down before passing them. A fast paceline has no place on a bike path.
—Warn before overtaking. Walkers and runners should stay to the right of the path but it’s still dangerous to pass. Your presence may startle them. So calmly announce “On your left” before going around. When people are wearing headphones they won’t hear you, so be ready for anything.
Tip! Install a bell if you ride much on bike paths. It’s a gentle but recognizable sound that lets people know you’re coming. It’s more noticeable from a distance than a voice warning.
A bell also works well in mass-start rides when you might be overtaking numerous slower riders. Twitching your thumb is easier than barking “On your left” all morning.