Red Card Roberts
For its annual service project, the 2010/2011 Leadership Park City Class chose to promote civility in our community. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance and value of civil behavior. When they saw someone being civil, they responded by giving that person a card, thanking him or her for being polite.
However, it is my guess very few civility cards could be given out on our local trails. On any given day, on any given trail, you can find people behaving like entitled jerks.
During the Point 2 Point mountain-bike race last month, there was a collision between a trail runner and a race contestant. Both allege the other party was at fault and hostile. Last year, skate skiers and walkers were constantly at odds using the groomed trails at Round Valley, with many walkers claiming the skiers refused to slow down for them and someone purposefully collided with a walker’s dog.
Just this weekend, I was riding Jenni’s Trail at Park City Mountain Resort with friends. A downhill biker refused to yield to us as we were climbing up a switchback. Someone in our group sarcastically said, "Thanks for stopping," and the downhiller replied, "Oh, like there’s not enough room for both of us?", refusing to acknowledge that as climbers, we had the right of way. The examples are endless.
So maybe it’s time to bring this civility project back from the grave, for the sake of our sanity on the trails. Holley Hendrix, an avid year-round trails user, agrees things are getting out of hand.
"It is really crazy how in the last couple of seasons trail users have become so aggravated, and lack the trail etiquette to stop for an uphill rider, a runner or hiker. Aren’t we are all supposed to be out there having fun, cheering each other on in this beautiful wonderful place we live? Seriously, has our trail-user population become so entitled that we can’t be kind enough to hop off the trail for five seconds to let someone by?"
Park City’s 350-mile network of trails has recently garnered national recognition, and is no doubt a point of pride for all of us. But with those kudos come more users, including those who are not experienced mountain bikers. The kind of riders who might not be good enough to hug the inside track on a switchback while you fly by them, Mr. Spandex-clad-downhiller on Jenni’s Trail last Sunday.
Most of us live in Park City because we love the outdoor recreational opportunities. (I’ve never heard anyone say they moved here because they love to sit inside and watch TV.) But we all are equally entitled to use the trails we love. On bikes, on foot, with dogs, on skis, on horse, on snowshoes, etc.
The simple act of civility is becoming less and less noticeable, and rudeness seems to rule supreme. Given that, perhaps a few reminders are in order. When out on the trails, remember:
1. This isn’t the same Park City you enjoyed 20 years ago. There are more people on the trails now. Don’t expect to crush your downhill and not have to yield to anyone.
2. You are not entitled to your workout more than anyone else. No matter how elite of an athlete you think you are, there are no pro scouts secretly watching you from the chairlifts. It is not necessary to move as if there’s a bag of money waiting for you at the end.
3. Even you were a beginner once. Assume everyone you encounter on a trail is just learning his or her sport. Show them courtesy.
4. Nobody gets 27 hours in their day. Your time is not more valuable than anyone else’s. Being in a hurry is not a permission slip for you to break the rules or be a prick.
5. Remember, it’s a small town. Being a jerk on a trail, and other places, might just make you the topic of a newspaper column. Karma’s only a bitch when you are.
If you have a story idea for Red Card Roberts, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, public-relations guru and globe-trotting thrill seeker. In a former life she worked in TV news, both as a reporter and sports anchor. She has bagged peaks on six continents, kayaked the Zambezi and Nile rivers, swam with great white sharks in South Africa and tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She was once very nearly sold for 2,000 camels while traveling through Morocco.
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