After a nasty crash in which a bicyclist yelled “Hot pizza!” before hitting a woman on the Spokane River Centennial Trail, cyclists and pedestrians are going over proper etiquette on shared paths.
A nasty crash in which a bicyclist yelled “Hot pizza!” before hitting a woman walking her dog on the Spokane River Centennial Trail has generated debate around proper bicycle etiquette on trails.
Hundreds of people identifying as cyclists and walkers online have responded to the story out of Spokane, some sharing their own experiences of feeling threatened by cyclists.
“My kid has almost been run over multiple times on a similar trail in Seattle,” one person wrote. “There is no excuse. ”
Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.
Considering the interest, here some riding tips, per the Seattle-based Cascade Bicycle Club and King County park officials:
• Make yourself known. Yell or ring a bell at least 20 to 30 feet before passing other people on the left, and again within 5 to 10 feet so they know you are close. Most bikers shout “on your left” as an alert. Also, signal turns whenever it’s safe to do so.
• Lose the distractions. Don’t use earbuds and put your phone away.
• Keep your speed in check. For all regional trails, including stretches of the Burke-Gilman Trail, the limit for cyclists is 15 mph.
• Maintain space. Leave enough room in front of you to avoid other cyclists, cars and blockages. For group rides, going single file is the safest.
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• For night rides, make sure to use proper lighting and reflector equipment required by law. Bikes should have front lamps that emit white light visible at least 500 feet away — including those that pulse without going all the way off — and red reflectors in back. Red taillights are optional. Those can blink, pulse or be constant.
• Beyond lighting, you can improve your chances of being seen by cars and other cyclists by wearing a bright outfit and using reflectors as ankle straps or on wheels, said Ryan Young, Cascade’s youth programs coordinator. Helmets are required by law.
• And remember: People use trails for different purposes. While you may be trying to get home after work, another person may be enjoying a leisurely stroll. “Always be aware of others, leave space for others to pass you or your group, and be polite,” a blog by King County Parks says. Ride defensively and predictably.
Virginia Pearsall, 67, was walking on the Spokane River Centennial Trail with her pet and sister on Sept. 22 when she heard the cyclist yell, The Spokesman-Review reported. The rider, Justin Haller, 44, of Spokane, then smashed into her. Both suffered injuries and received medical help.
More on cycling, pedestrian safety
In August, Traffic Lab collected stories on how safe bicyclists and pedestrians feel getting around the Seattle-area compared to other metropolitan areas. It was part of a project featuring a story and interactive map showing where the most bike and pedestrian accidents have occurred in Seattle over the past decade.
Research by national safety advocates says the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area is one of the country’s safest metropolitan regions for people on foot.
According to Seattle’s 2016 Traffic Report, the most recent available, 522 pedestrians and 483 cyclists were hit by cars or bikes in 2015. Eight people died.