This exchange in the Washington Post – between a cyclist and pedestrian involved in an accident on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) – illustrates why you’ll rarely find me on that trail (or the Mt. Vernon Trail (MVT), on weekends).Â Â Apparently, it is too much to expect that all users of a trail pay attention to each other.Â While I agree with the general principle that larger and faster moving objects (i.e., cyclists & bladers) have an obligation to be more vigilant than other trail users (i.e., runners & walkers), this doesn’t absolve pedestrians of their responsibility to stay alert and out of the way of other trail traffic.
The pedestrian in this case really annoys me, apparently unable to comprehend her role – plugged into an iPod and evidently unable to hear the warning by the approaching cyclist – in the accident.Â And after 8 years of riding these same trails (tho’ less and less, over the years), I can tell you that she’s hardly alone in her myopic approach to trail use. I have a good voice for yelling, and a better bell for ringing, on all of my bikes.Â And I use them constantly.Â Yet I have dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of stories of near-misses with pedestrians who either weren’t paying attention, didn’t understand how to stay out of the way, or simply decided that it was *their* trail.
So I have generally given up on riding these trails at any time other than early morning or the odd midday excursion, which is a shame.Â Â While I’m comfortable that my approach to trail sharing is a fair one, riding the CCT or MVT isn’tÂ worth the hassle and possible harm to myself or the unaware pedestrian.Â And then I’m reminded – I can use the Custis/W&OD most any time without these problems.Â Granted, the W&OD is more of a commuter trail than recreational trail.Â But it’s a high volume trail where people seem to have the stay-to-the-left, call-out-when-passing routine down pretty well.Â The only difference I can think of between this trail and the other two is that the other two attract more recreational pedestrians.Â Perhaps, then, that is where the safety education efforts should focus.
(Scott has his own take on this.)