I spent last weekend in Monterey, a beautiful beach town about two hours south of San Francisco with miles of gorgeous trails that boast views of the rugged northern California coastline. They're ideal for hiking, running, biking – what I didn't find so ideal, however, are the folks who use them. During my two-hour ride, I avoided another biker veering head-on into my lane (and me), swerved to miss an out-of-control terrier, and had to slam on my brakes when a group of women decided to suddenly stop in front of me.
Since summertime is prime for enjoying the outdoors, especially while you're traveling, here's a little primer to ensure everyone stays happy – and safe – on the trail and elsewhere in the great outdoors.
Reign in that leash: Retractable dog leashes may be great for Fido, but for folks trying to run, walk, or bike in the same space? Not so much. I’m a huge advocate for keeping a dog on a leash – just make sure that leash isn't stretched across a sidewalk, endangering others around you by forcing them into oncoming traffic or, just as bad, causing them to trip or become tangled.
Step aside to snap: I live in San Francisco, and every time I go for a run or ride around the Golden Gate Bridge, inevitably some camera-toting tourist will block the path for all the other tourists and locals who are also trying to use it. While I love that visitors want to capture the beauty of this fair city, I beg: before you take the picture, take a second to make sure you're not standing in anyone's way.
Use caution when opening: These words of warning don't just apply to overhead bins on airplanes. When you park your car alongside a roadway that's frequented by cyclists – popular beaches and parking for trailheads, for example – check your mirrors before opening the door, lest a biker happens to be buzzing by at the same moment. (This unfortunate occurrence is known in cyclist-speak as getting "doored.")
Follow the rules: It's always easier when bikers and pedestrians each have their own dedicated lanes. But when things aren't clearly spelled out, here’s the deal: Slower traffic should keep right, just like on the road. That means walkers and slow joggers should move over to allow runners and cyclists to pass them more easily on the left. The same rule also applies when there are dedicated pedestrian and biking lanes. So if you’re cruising along on a leisurely bike ride, for example, drift to the right to allow easier flow for speedier cyclists – and a safer environment for everyone.
And speaking of speedy cyclists… When you’re out for a walk or run (and, presumably, not hogging in the sidewalk) and a cyclist comes screaming past you with just inches to spare, it’s terrifying – and infuriating. Don’t be that cyclist. Reduce your speed in heavily congested areas – or avoid such areas altogether.