Amy Roberts: Entitlement and etiquette
Living in Prospector, I am a frequent patron of the Rail Trail. Can’t beat the access for a quick dog walk. In the summer months, once school is out, the trail is littered each morning with little kids learning to mountain bike and advancing their skills.
There are herds of them. They seem to start about five years of age and go up from there. I’m sure there are at least a dozen organizations or clubs that exist simply to teach little crumb crushers how to ride.
The age of the group I run into depends on the day and the time I get out with my dog. On Wednesdays, I hear about Kaitlynn and Luke "going together" as the group passes me by. On Fridays, the talk is more about pesky little brothers. Mondays, there’s a lot of missing mommy. But no matter the day or the group, one thing they all have in common is their manners as they pass.
The first kid in the cluster will always shout "on your left" as he or she approaches me. Then stop, and while waiting for the others, and ask if my dog is friendly. What’s his name? Does he like to play fetch? Can I pet him? On and on the questioning goes until the entire group arrives and takes turns giving Stanley a pat. The instructor is usually the caboose and shoos them along. Reminding them to always ride on the right, announce their presence when passing, and slow down when approaching dogs, kids and other pedestrians.
They are an extremely well-mannered bunch who live and breathe proper trail etiquette.
I know these clubs exist for children. But man, there are a lot of adults I’d like to force into joining. There are some real jerks on two wheels in this town who would benefit from a lesson in basic trail manners.
I’m not picking on bikers. I mountain bike frequently and enjoy the sport. But the sense of entitlement on the trails is alarming. Especially the busy, flat, paved trail I frequent.
Just last weekend I ran into a friend while out for a walk and stopped to chat. The Rail Trail is about 8-feet wide in most places, plenty of room for passing. My leashed dog sat next to me as I gabbed with my friend.
A woman on a road bike started to approach us and from about 15 feet away started yelling at us for hogging the trail. She had well over half the trail to pass and it’s not like our actions indicated we were going to jump in front of her at the last minute. She simply did not want us standing still on the trail and having a dog near us was apparently an added layer of justified animosity.
"Move! Move! Get your dog out of my way!" she yelled, then swore heavily at us as she whizzed by, instructing us to do something anatomically impossible.
Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve experienced or witnessed this type of behavior from someone on a bike.
Who are these people? Do they not realize it’s called a ROAD bike for a reason? Look, if you’re zooming down 224 and I’m standing on the shoulder deep in conversation, yes, by all means, tell me to move. But the Rail Trail? If that’s your training ground for elite fitness, you probably shouldn’t behave like you’re riding in next year’s Tour de France. That’s like playing catch with your kids in the backyard, and seriously expecting the Yankees to call you up at any time.
The Rail Trail is a multi-use path that everyone is entitled to use. In fact, all of the trails we love and enjoy are multi-use and ownership-free. Even 9-year old Kaitlynn and Luke know that.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.