Passing Etiquette

Passing Hikers, Walkers, Runners

Most people who don’t ride bikes have no idea what “on your left” means. If you say this it may actually cause them to move to the left, causing an accident!

Here are a few steps to follow instead :

  1. Greet the hiker – a simple “Howdy!” or “Hi, nice day!” will do. If you have a bell, ring it once or twice to let them know of you are there.
  2. Slow down to about the same speed as the hiker. Failure to do so can cause them to panic and consider writing a letter of complaint to whomever owns the land you are riding on.
  3. If the trail is too narrow for both you and the hiker, then you must stop and yield the trail to them. If they wave you on, you may go ahead.
  4. If you are approaching from behind, and the hiker appears confused and stops in the middle of the trail, then you should stop and politely say something like “pardon me, may I pass on your left ?”

Consider buying a bell – compact models can be found in most bike shops fairly cheaply. These little gadgets help hikers, walkers, and runners know that you’re a considerate bicyclist, and there is talk of making bells required on some trails.

Passing Horses/Equestrians

Rocketing past a horse is a really bad idea, because they are easy to startle and may throw their riders, causing injury or death. Mountain-bike riders, equestrians, and horses are at risk of physical harm in these encounters, and it is of extreme importance that mountain-bikers be careful around horses.

Here are a few steps to follow when passing equestrians :

  1. Greet the equestrian and the horse – “Howdy!”, “Hi, nice day!”, or “My what a beautiful horse.”, for example. If you have a bell, ringing it probably won’t hurt, but you should also speak, so that the horse knows you are a human, and not a predator.
    This is especially important when approaching a horse from behind, because horses spook more easily in this situation.
  2. Ask the equestrian for instructions on how to pass – it may be necessary for you to stop completely and let the horse pass, depending on the width and condition of the trail.
  3. Pass slowly and steadily, but only after the equestrian gives you the go-ahead. Sudden movements can spook a horse.