Yesterday, there was an incident on the Tanglefoot Trail concerning us. No one was hurt, but it could have been worse. A small child stepped in front of some of our riders causing rapid braking and avoidance maneuvers at high speed. First of all, and most importantly, let me state that I take full responsibility. Even though the incident happened way behind me, the little girl must have turned to look at my trike as I rushed past.
Please help us avoid this situation in the future by following these guidelines:
Let’s avoid racing, high speed drafting and close proximity riding, when there are people on the trails. It is tempting to open up when the trail appears open, but kids or animals can dart out anytime. Sunday afternoon is not the time to see how fast you can ride on the trails!
If you find yourself leading a group of riders, alert the rider behind when walkers are approaching. That is the leader’s responsibility. Indicate you are slowing and stay far to the right. If you find yourself in the middle of a group, also stay far to the right. It is not safe to ride offset and to the left so you can see ahead, if you are in a group. That blocks the vision of riders behind. If you do not know the rider in front, you should keep more distance between.
If you find yourself in the back of a group it is your responsibility to focus on the rider ahead, maintain a large gap, and be ready to brake. You have the added responsibility of alerting riders in front of you of passing cyclists (or cars, on the road).
Some trails across the country have a speed limit of 20 MPH. Let’s impose that limit on ourselves, and go slower when there are people or other riders. Many of us know our bikes and engines are capable of more, but let’s save that for the road, not the trails. As recumbent riders, we must be ambassadors of safe, responsible riding because we are faster and more visible.
This incident aside, our Tanglefoot Tour yesterday was a success. Everyone toured both the north and the south portions of the trails getting in from 50-87 miles for the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy the south end of the trail a bit more, perhaps because of more trees and people. The facilities that have been completed are first class. The trail was relatively clean and the surface was smooth, except for the bridges. There are many crossings that need to be heeded as cars are reluctant to stop for cyclists. The RideSouth bus and Rack-n-roll trailer transported riders and everyone’s bikes and trikes easily, without incident.
We will consider this tour again sometime later this year. We made many new friends on the trail yesterday. Unfortunately, we almost had a terrible accident. My lesson learned is to be a better leader. We hope everyone will help with that challenge so even the fine folks on the Tanglefoot will know that RideSouth is The Way to Ride!