My daily walks on the Daybreak trails have found me noticing that others are strangely unaware of simple trail etiquette, so I thought I would make a compilation of the general rules and politenesses of sharing the trails.
Stay on the right and take no more than half the trail
Just like on a road, walk on the right side of the path so that you are not in the way of oncoming traffic and so that others can pass you. If you are pushing a stroller with a friend, it is VERY impolite to walk side by side, taking up the entire trail. If you are walking with a group, taking up more than half the trail is rude as well. If you are bike-riding with friends, you should go single-file so that there is room to get around you.
Pass on the left and announce your presence
You are bound to encounter people who are going slower than you, so a few seconds before it’s time to pass them, announce in a loud voice, “Passing on the left.” That way you won’t surprise them when you come from behind. If you are on a bike or skating, announce yourself earlier and slow down, or, even better, ring your bike bell. If there is more than one person in your group, advise those who are passing how many more people will be passing them soon. i.e. “Passing on the left. There are two others behind me.”
Greet oncoming traffic politely
Look the person in oncoming traffic right in the eye and say, “Good morning (afternoon, or evening).” If the oncoming people are engaged in a conversation and are not polite enough to stop talking to greet you, just look one or the other of them in the eye and nod your head. If the oncoming person is wearing headphones, you can just look at them and mouth the greeting with a smile. The second time you pass an individual, it’s usually polite to say, “Hello, again!” The third time, however, you do not need to greet them again. Just nod politely as you pass.
Watch out for blind turns
There are many turns (especially under the bridges) in which you cannot see ahead of you. Slow down when you approach these turns and announce your presence. If you’re on a bike, ringing a bell before you speed through the turn will warn the people walking that a fast moving traveler is coming. If you are walking, make sure that you only take half the trail, even if your group is big. You cannot see what might be speeding toward your crowd of people, so make sure you don’t get hit.
Watch your kids and pets
The Daybreak trails are not your personal backyard. There are others on the roads, so you must keep your children and pets near you and leashed. There have been so many times when I’ve tried to pass a family on my bike and their toddler has jumped out in front of me. I’ve never hit a child with my bike because I’m notoriously cautious, but relying on others to be cautious around your children or pets is stupidity in action. Additionally, make sure your animals or children are not tormenting the wildlife.
Pick up after your kids and pets
If your child throws their milk bottle (cereal, shoes, etc.) on the trail, it is your responsibility to pick it up. The garbage cans are scattered across the trails for a reason. The same goes for your dog excrement. When you pass the Dogi-Pot station, tear off an extra doggie poo bag and tie it to your leash or stuff it in your pocket. There is NO excuse for leaving dog mess on the side of the trails for others to step in. It is your responsibility to have a plan in place to clean up after your children and pets.
Move off the trail when you stop
Whether you need to rest or you’re enjoying the beautiful views Daybreak has to offer, get out of the way. Others are trying to ride, skate, bike, run or walk on the trail and you stopping on it without moving to the side is incredibly rude.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
If your headphones are so loud that you cannot hear a person when they announce that they are passing you, then TURN THEM DOWN. I understand that music is very helpful when exercising, but you have a responsibility to be aware of what is going on around you. Additionally, it is impolite to act as if you’re the only person on the trail. If your family is too large to watch each child, then you need to enlist help from other adults or take walks in smaller groups. If you are riding your bike and find that the walkers on the trail are slowing you down, it’s time to find a different route that is more suited to your fitness level. Speeding past walkers without even a warning is inconsiderate and dangerous.
I compiled this list of etiquette rules from various lists on the Internet. These are general rules that have been recognized over the years and work well in other communities. I love walking on the Daybreak trails every day and, for the most part, people are friendly and considerate. There are only a few people who seem oblivious to general trail etiquette and a little education can go a long way.