Bike Path & Trail Etiquette 101

Now that Spring is finally here, it’s time to get outdoors and exercise!  The great thing about this area is that there is a great selection of trails and paths to get out and walk, bike, run and enjoy.  Personally, I love to cycle on the new Chester Valley Trail (starts down by Wegman’s and extends out to Ship Road in Exton), and the Schuylkill River Trail.  

When you’re out enjoying these trails, try to keep in mind that there are lots of other people trying to take advantage of the trail as well.  If you’re not quite sure of the general rules of using a public bike trail, so here are some do’s and don’ts when using a bike path this summer:


  • Don’t use the wrong side of the bike path. An unwritten rule is: whichever direction you’re heading, use the same side of the path a car would use on the street. We drive on the right side of the road here, so I keep to the right side of the path. If you need to use the other side, try to stick to the edge of the path as much as possible.
  • Don’t stop in the middle of the path. Especially so, if you’re more than one person or riding bikes. Even if you’re trying to solve world peace. Move off the path if it’s safe to do so, or as close to the edge of the path as possible.
  • Don’t walk in the middle of the path. I get it. I really do. It’s fun to walk along a painted line — but just don’t do it on a bike path. A cyclist coming along behind you may end up clipping you as they pass you, for one thing. It’s not cool to hog the bike path!


  • Do put your dog on a (short) leash. Don’t get me wrong, we all love dogs!  But no matter how well-behaved your dog is, all it takes is one little distraction to send your dog across the bike path and into trouble. One butterfly that your dog wants to chase or a stinky scent to roll in that’s on the other side of the bike path and a collision can happen. If you’ve got your dog on a flexi-leash, keep it short for the same reasons.
  • Do go single file if there’s not enough room. If you’re a group of two or more people, make sure you’re not encroaching on the opposite side of the bike path, especially rollerbladers with your wide strides.
  • Do look behind you when passing — and look ahead, too. When you need to pass someone, look behind you first for anybody who might be trying to pass YOU at that moment. You also need to assess the situation ahead of you, too. The other day, I was biking in one direction when I saw a cyclist heading in the opposite direction — and right ahead of him was a pedestrian. It was pretty obvious to both me and the other cyclist that he’d end up on my side of the path right as we were passing the pedestrian. I slowed down and waved him ahead. Accident avoided!
  • Do alert people ahead of you when you are passing them.  When approaching someone that you are going to pass while cycling, it is always a good idea to alert them to your impending passing by shouting ahead “On your left,” indicating that you will be passing them on their left side.  Passing should always be done on the left side, unless that is not possible.

[Source: Bike Path Etiquette 101]

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