Why is there so much tension between bikers and runners? As a member of both communities I understand a little of both sides. Yesterday was a great example of why we often don’t get along.
A friend and I were going for a ride – I was towing the kids in the trailer and decided to do the lakes, Minnehaha Parkway to River Road, and Greenway loop. It is a 20 mile loop that I’ve ridden quite a bit. As we crossed Lake Street at Dean Parkway we decided to stay on the Bike Trail (which goes clock-wise around Calhoun) instead of the road (which goes counter-clock-wise). There was quite a bit of vehicle traffic and the bike path seemed safer.
The road would have been a lot easier and ultimately safer. We quickly ran into a ton of runners and walkers who were blocking the entire path. It took us 30 minutes to go the 4 miles from the top of Calhoun to the Minnehaha Parkway exit of Lake Harriet. I can run that fast – in fact a runner was being a jerk and kept trying to pass us as we weaved through people.
I will say it isn’t 100% the runners/walkers fault as the “pedestrian” trail hasn’t been snow plowed. But walking 3-4 abreast and not moving for oncoming cyclists is their fault. The Park Board wisely only plows the bike paths in the winter. I think this is an efficient use of resources and data probably supports that the number of pedestrians and riders during the winter month justifies only having the 4-6 foot wide path plowed. Unfortunately, the pedestrian trail still has significant snow covering and has large sections that are impassable. The Park Board could easily spend 2 hours and knock out all the snow covered areas by plowing it early on morning or overnight.
USE YOUR HEAD!
People walking and running with headphones couldn’t hear me calling “on your left” and were often walking in the center of the trail. One guy with a hoodie on still never heard or acknowledged my presence until I was in front of him. A few times a runner moved to pass a group of people without looking to make sure no one was coming on the left and we almost hit them.
I get that you want to chat with your friend, partner, etc. But bikes, especially ones with trailers take up quite a bit of space and should be given room to pass. Zigging and Zagging between huge groups of people is tedious work and I’m sorry if you have to step into a puddle, but I don’t have a lot of choices. I am pretty sure that I hit 3 people with the trailer. I didn’t do it intentionally nor am I proud of it, but I can only do so much.
We caught up to a group of unicyclists who were doing an amazing job of navigating through the congestion without falling off. We also caught up to a small family with a young girl (elementary age) who was skillfully navigating her bike through the people with the mom right behind her with a trail-behind attached. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for any of us.
We were trying to be careful, but for the most part the runners and walkers didn’t react to our presence until we forced them to move. We all need to compromise – maybe you can walk single file instead of 2-4 people wide in a group. Also runners as you pass people in either direction make sure that you can see what is happening around you and look behind you.
We all need to work together until the snow melts off the pedestrian trail. Or until the Park Board takes 2 hours and clears the remaining snow!
Sadly, this is currently exaggerated due to the snow, but it is a year round problem with runners using the bike path to avoid the congestion walkers create. As a runner I appreciate the fact that you get a better workout on the bike path but as a biker it is quite annoying to have to dodge runners ( and sadly walkers) who are running on the bike path. Many of these people are wearing headphones and are clueless to their surroundings.
I appreciate the people who walk/run against the flow of traffic so they can at least move out of the way. I personally avoid running around the lakes and will now avoid biking them except for early in the morning!!
What are your thoughts?