Ranger Ramblings: Urban trail etiquette

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Greetings, trail lovers! I started biking to work a couple times each week over the summer, and it hit me (almost literally) one morning what the focus of this month’s column should be, trail etiquette! Specifically, trail etiquette and safety on the amazing urban trail system we get to enjoy in Colorado Springs.

Principle 7, Be Considerate of Other Visitors, is an important element of Leave No Trace that deals more with the impact we have on other trail users rather than the trail itself. There are several user groups who utilize the urban trail system: from dog walkers to children learning how to roller-skate to commuters, like me, who use the trails to cycle to and from work. To coexist peacefully and safely, there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind. 

Share the trail — Stay to the right of the trail when walking or riding to allow faster trail users to pass. If you are in a larger group, travel in a single file line or 2x2 to prevent blocking the entire trail.

Say hello — When passing others on the trail, make yourself known. Use a bell to indicate you are about to pass someone, or simply shout, “Hello!” or “On your left!” This small gesture is considerate and prevents startling, or running into, your fellow trail users. We like to call this “recreational empathy.” 

Be visible — Early mornings and late evenings call for extra visibility. Cyclists, use headlights and taillights on your bike. Walkers and runners, wear reflective clothing and/or carry a light source. Dog walkers, make sure both you and your pet(s) are visible.

Be present — Whether listening to music, an eBook, or your favorite podcast, make sure that you can hear approaching trail users. Turn the volume down or leave an ear open to stay aware when on the trail.

And that’s it! Whether you are strolling along the Cottonwood Creek Trail, cruising along the Pikes Peak Greenway, or walking your dog around neighborhood connector trails, you can practice Principle 7 (and avoid collisions) by following these simple guidelines.

Happy trails!

Gillian Rossi is the senior park ranger for the City of Colorado Springs Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Program. This article first appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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