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Slow Down, Bike Path Racer!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="399" caption="(Photo from raincityguide.com)"][/caption]
Seriously, you're like a Dodge Neon on I-5 swerving from lane to lane doing a Fast and the Furious impression. You're obnoxious at best, a legitimate safety hazard to all the other respectful path users at worst.
If you've ever ridden down a Multiple Use Path you've seen Bike Path Racer (BPR). For some reason, this person thinks that 5 o'clock on a weekday is the best time to hammer out a hard ride. Oftentimes, BPR is just a speedy commuter, but sometimes he/she's a cyclist who's clearly just chose the trail to get in a workout at rush hour. I'm not just calling out Spandex-clad roadies (though they're the most visible culprits): The BPR comes in all shapes, sizes, and outfits, riding everything from hybrids to fixed-gears to mountain bikes.
I don't often commute on the Burke-Gilman, but last Wednesday, I happened to be heading from Sand Point Way to Queen Anne around 5:30 on the trail. The section of the Burke-Gilman between University Village and Fremont is almost always the most crowded, and with last Wednesday's temperatures pushing 70, it was veritable tire-to-tire traffic.
In the few miles I was on the trail, I saw dozens of BPRs. True to classic form, they were passing without a shout of "on your left" or a ring of a bell and speeding up to pass so they could squeeze through a narrow gap between the person they were passing and oncoming bikes. I know commuting down the bike path is similar in many ways to coming around the Champs-Élysées on the final stage of Le Tour, but if BPRs would simply announce their presence I would gladly move out of their way.
I get that the mom cruising slowly with her even slower child on training wheels is an inconvenience. I get that it sucks to slam on the brakes and wait behind that man and his little yippy dog before you can safely pass. And I get that, after the 15th or 20th time, yelling "on your left" gets incredibly old.
But you know what? Tough. I can't think of many instances where the saying "if you don't like it, you can get out" is appropriate, but this is definitely one of them. There's bound to be a wide range of speeds on bike trails, but BPRs trying to sustain a 18-20mph pace (or higher) by weaving recklessly around other users are increasing the risk of crashes and generally making other people uncomfortable.
Don't like to watch out for others? There are literally dozens of alternative on-road routes to any bike trail. With a little planning you can find one with minimum traffic. If you're comfortable enough to dodge other users on a bike path, you should be comfortable enough to ride in rush-hour traffic. Your speed will not only be appropriate, but appreciated by drivers.
Cycling in the city at rush hour is hard enough as is—with pissed-off drivers, bad roads, train tracks, and potholes. Riding on the bike path doesn't need to be a harrowing experience as well. I'm not saying BPR needs to cruise along at the snail's pace of slowest rider on the path. Just slow down a little, make sure there's ample room to pass, give an audible warning to the person you're passing, and be a considerate path users. You'll make life a little bit nicer for everyone.
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- 'Frozen' on Ice Comes to Everett and Kent
- Afternoon Jolt: Poll Shows Regional Voters Happy to Pay for More Light Rail
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