A Question of Etiquette on the ‘Bike Trail’ — Let’s NOT make it runners vs bikers

So, I have a question for you. Being a runner I do feel a little biased, so I think it’s fair to ask for the perspective of others and people who may be on the ‘other’ side of the debate: bikers.

When you’re a runner and you are running along on a ‘bike trail’ do you not deserve SOME space? Now, yes, the name denotes that it’s for bikers but I sort of feel that also encompasses some foot traffic; more like it’s a place for riders/runners that is free of cars.


I even saw a person on rollerblades out there. I'm equal opportunity if we all 'play nice.'

When I’m running along, if I see a biker approaching I stick to the side and give them ample room. The same goes if I hear one coming behind me, I move to the shoulder and let them pass. I give them respect.

That is not always something that I feel is reciprocated. I DO want to say that it is the minority; for the most part I think the bikers I’ve seen are more than courteous, they even say hello, and I smile and wave.

But there are always a few people that feel they own the bike trail. I’ve had friends who have barely been able to dodge being biked over or hit, they had to practically dive to the side of the road. One of my friends had a biker yell at her, “This is the BIKE trail,” and proceed to play the ‘chicken’ game with her and ride straight at her.

I bring this up today because after a run on the trail there were multiple bikers that happened to do this to me. My friend and I were out there doing a fartlek, and the encounter that really touched a nerve was when two ladies on bikes had the entire path to themselves, my friend actually had moved onto the dirt on the side and I was right on the shoulder. But this lady clearly wasn’t going to move, she was hugging the shoulder coming right at us; she looked up and locked eyes with me and as she passed I could have told you if she had a zit on her cheek, how we didn’t hit was avoided by millimeters.

two runners

Sorry, to be correct my friend was actually a guy, but I talked him into going slow and running with me. 🙂

I was just offended. Here, she looked at me and seemed to actually want to hit me. I just don’t understand it when there is the entire rest of the trail left for her. I know there are always two sides to any story.

Perhaps she had just passed a group of runners who had been hogging the trail and I was just the harrier that pushed her over the edge. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she was tired and on the final miles of her ride; heck, I was in the middle of a ‘hard’ part of the farlek so I know sometimes when you’re tired moving that extra bit does seem like a monumental effort sometimes. Maybe she really doesn’t like runners on the ‘bike trail.’

It’s just that every now and again I wish I could tell bikers: as a runner, I do thank you for allowing us to use the trail even though it is officially a ‘bike trail.’ It’s not that we mean you any disrepect, it’s just that we too like to have a space void of cars and is safer. I will do my best to always move when you pass by, I will take up as minimal amount of room that I can. I do know I can’t speak for every runner on the trail, just myself, and I’m sorry if there are instances where you feel WE think we own the trail. But, I hope you can understand where I’m coming from and we can live in harmony on this ‘bike trail.’

1) Do you have a bike trail near where you live? If so, are you a runner, biker, or both? What has your experience been?

2) What have you been up to this Sunday? Did you do a workout?
I did a fartlek with my friend; we did sets of 2 minutes hard and 1 minute easy.

3) Name something you are looking forward to?
I was too tired to finish a movie last night and zonked out early; I’m excited for part II of movie night with my housemates. 🙂
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20 thoughts on “A Question of Etiquette on the ‘Bike Trail’ — Let’s NOT make it runners vs bikers

  1. Hey just found you through HRG! I love you art and your blog. I loved that you posted about this topic. I bike and run on a trail near my house and I think you’ve kinda got it pegged when you said “that most bikers will wave and say hello and some think they own the trail” – I would have to say the same about runners. I have been almost run over by a bike while running BUT when I’m biking I’ve had people running and blocking my way, having their ipods in so they dont hear my bell….not to mention dogs off leash AH!

    I think it’s just some people are nice and considerate and some aren;t. lol I LOVE to say hi to everyone when I’m running, walking my dog or biking but some people don;t 😀 lol

    good post

    • Ali, I’m so glad you found Cait. Did you know that she is from a high school close to the one Jess and I went to, and we got to compete at the same meets and stuff? Isn’t that so cool?! She just found our blog too and so now we will be stalking it up. She is an awesome runner!

      And Cait, Ali is so cool. She just started running, and has her first race ever coming up this month. Her blog is awesome and hilarious and she has an adorable son, Logan!

      Okay, not sure why I felt compelled to do some intro’s there…Sorry. But I just love both of you and decided to include myself in this…okay I’ll go make my own comment now 🙂

    • thanks so much for stopping by, ali!!! and ya, isn’t HRG so awesome. 🙂

      it’s really cool to hear ur perspective because u’re on both ends; and i can totally see where there are some runners who are offenders themselves. it’s i guess dependent on the person…i’m like u though and like to be friendly to those i pass, but to each their own. but don’t EVEN get me started on people with crazy dogs and they don’t have them on leashes!! :S

      and Cecily, u are WAY too sweet and thanks for the intro!! umm, don’t ever worry about hijacking a comment!! haha. that’s crazy that u two know each other too!! i love it and i’m so happy that ali, u found ur way into running. i may be partial but it is THE best sport ever. 🙂

  2. hahaha. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this :). Sorry the bikers were so agressive!

    Since I’m both (although much less a biker than runner), this issue is hilarious / important. Here are the rules as I see it.
    1) If there are three of you (runners or bikers), don’t all ride or run side by side. It’s annoying and dangerous.
    2) “On Your Left” or “Good Morning” are good ways to say “get outa the way / please don’t run out or I might not be able to stop in time”
    3) Parents, PLEASE tell your kids (either walking or on bikes) to stay in their lanes. They scare the crap outa me .

    • margot, u are the perfect person to weigh in, and i love ur rules!! haha…little kids on bikes are scary, this little girl with streamers and a basket swerved, at me smiling…i wasn’t sure if there was a hint of malice in those little eyes, but she scared me poopless as well! haha.

  3. Okay, first of all, like I need to tell you this, but I really LOVE your illustrations. They are awesome!

    Next, I too find myself frustrated with the biker/runner power struggle. It’s not so much a problem where I live now (a Caribbean island) but in my college town I was SO tired of getting out of the way of bikers, even on the sidewalk! AH! It drove me crazy. I don’t mind if both parties make an effort to give space, but when it’s only one-sided, or in your case, if they’re actually trying to run you off the trail, well that’s just not okay. Sure it’s a “bike-trail” but have you ever even heard of an exclusive “running trail?” I think “bike trail is a general term, hence why you also saw roller bladers out there. They have to expect there will be different kinds of traffic on a nice, car-less trail. But really, I think it probably is a two-way problem. If I was a biker, I might be just as annoyed with runners, I guess. We just have to share 🙂 And be aware of each other for sure. So, enough of my rant, haha.

    I love fartleks! They are such fun workouts, but still very hard. A great one for the road! Sunday was my rest day and I loved every lazy minute of it. I also did fall asleep last night trying to watch an episode of Bones, so I will also be looking forward to finishing it! I’m not good at staying up at all anymore.

    • you, my friend, have wound up in an AWESOME locale!!! if i were a rich girl i’d have to go take a trip…hehe! and i think we should rename all these so-called bike trails to ‘runner trails’ regardless, runners are the best. 🙂

      fartleks can kick ur tush…oh, and i luv Bones! i’m just getting into that one. 🙂

  4. ahhhhhhhhh. i can totally relate to this. i LOVE running in our canyon here but seriously…sometimes i am terrified i might get hit by a biker EVEN when i am in the freaking running lane. like seriously…they get 2 lanes!?! can they just move a little. i really have nothing else to say about this except that i can totally relate. if i keep going…i will likely yell the same thing over and over again. 😉

    • haha….dang, i’m mad, if some biker took u out, i’d have to get myself over there and go all ‘enforcer’ on them!!! u just drop the word and i’ll be there ready to bust some bikes! 🙂

  5. Going to have to agree with Cec that Ali Mc (your first comment) is the coolest and one of our BFFs! And I can totally relate to this!!! I mean not on a bike trail, because we don’t have them here in Wheatland, and not usually with “real” serious bikers… they are very courteous, like you said… but the regular old getting somewhere on my bike bikers are always all up in my business and won’t move! They’re not even supposed to be on the sidewalk! But the least they could do is move to one side. And walkers, too… they walk two or three abreast and never move as you come near them… so then I have to run in the bushes to get around… hello? Somebody move behind so I can get through! Do you really want to play red rover? Because I’m sure the heck coming over and it won’t feel good when I hit you… okay, enough of the rant.. whew… that felt good. Thanks..

    And I’m living just past Lincoln… My hubs is stationed at Beale AFB right now, so maybe we should meet up for a run one of these days. I’ll do my best not to slow you down.. you could make it your easy day. 🙂

    • no way, u are close!! i’m in fair oaks right now; and trust me i’d be the one slowing u down! haha.

      okay, u bring up the walkers…how about the walkers that go out in groups and go in lane one…AND they have no idea what “track” means…it’s tough to yell something more when you’re in the middle of an interval…:P

      • Oh so true!!! That is the worst… and you’re yelling and out of breath and they just wave at you as you have to swerve way the heck around them… totally oblivious! Haha! (Though, not at all funny at the time.)

        • are u kidding, at the time it makes u FUMING mad…but ya, upon reflection it then gets funny. i sorta feel like a mean person when i think, “okay, if i were able to catch up to that biker i would deck them!” i think it may be funnier though because i’d prolly end up getting the snot beaten out of me. 😉

  6. I’m a ‘slow runner/jogger’ AND a ‘cyclist’! But Singapore has very few bike trails. We have one single pavement— for runners, cyclists and walkers (?). What often happens is that the cyclist or runner and the ‘walker’, when approaching one another move to the sides of the pavement they are closer to. Cyclists are faster than runners so runners tend to let them go first 😀 (The worst happens when all 3 clog up the pavement when going the same direction…)

    PS: Forgot to say ‘hello’. So here it is: HELLO CAIT!!! 😀

    • HELLO!!!!!!! 🙂 haha…u always crack me up and put a smile on my face! i wish u lived closer…i may have to fly over there and smuggle u away!! don’t worry, i’m not a kidnapper or crazy…but it would be nice to have a resident baker in my house! 🙂

      back on track…u ARE so not a jogger, don’t even drop that word. u, my dear friend, are a runner…and it sounds like at least in Singapore you guys have a code of etiquette that people respect. i guess it’s just us rude americans. 😉

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  8. I def think it’s not a matter of bikers vs. runners, but just the type of person you’re dealing with. I love smiling and saying hi to people I pass, and always make the effort to not be in someones way. I guess those people who don’t have common courtesy, just aren’t that friendly to begin with!!

    Luckily, I can’t recall any instances where I had to jump out of the way, or felt like I was about to get run over, and hopefully it doesn’t happen anytime soon!!!

  9. I’m primarily a cyclist and hardly ever have trouble with runners on multi-use paths. I think it’s because most cyclists and runners realize that sometimes they will be running faster than others and sometimes they will be the ones getting passed.

    Most of my close calls have come with either triple/quadruple wide walkers or walkers with dogs. Even worse is the dreaded cyclist with a dog!
    I really don’t know why the rules have become so baffling for everyone since we all observe the same rules as when we’re on the road. Namely –
    1. Don’t take up more than half of the road at any time.
    2. Only use the left lane to pass.
    3. Check behind and ahead before passing.

    That’s really all it boils down to. Really nice blog by the way.

    • oh my gosh, i’ve not seen a cyclist with a dog yet, can i just say that sounds like a royal nightmare!!! great additions to our bike path code of conduct…where do we start posting sign? 😉
      and thanks, bald u like my blog!

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