A Public Service Announcement For Pedestrians On The Bike Path

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 12

Before I get to my PSA let me regale you with a story. The southwest corridor was a black ice nightmare today, thanks to warm air temps and cold ground temps the entire thing was one big sheet of super slick black ice. No one has cleared out the sidewalk adjacent to the bike path so pedestrians were sharing the bike side with cyclists (of which there were many).

Enter our main player, one ADORABLE child. I am talking clothing catalog cute, precocious and fun. She was enjoying the warm air and scampering all over the path, something her absentminded mother seemed to have no problem with. She just so happened to be playing on a large sheet of black ice.

There were two cyclists ahead of me, the first a young lady on a mountain bike had been traveling slowly and carefully to avoid falling on the black ice. When she saw this child basically jumping out in front of her the force of her brakes being applied immediately and violently dumped her onto the path. This caused the young man behind her to do the exact same thing.

The had both been traveling very slowly, but that ice was slippery. When I saw them both go down I immediately began to back pedal (one of the many benefits of riding a fixed gear in the snow) to slow myself gently, but it wasn’t going to be enough. I jumped off my bike putting both feet on the very slick ground, but sadly kept sliding forward. I came to a stop inches from the guys head. (I felt like the guy from premium rush when he slides under the truck)

The child thought the whole thing was great fun. Everyone got up dusted themselves off and continued on their way. No one was really hurt, but its still not fun to crash your bike, and its no fun thinking you might injure a cute little child.

Which brings me to my PSA.

Dear Pedestrians:

You are sharing the bike lane with the cyclists. In the same way you don’t like it when cyclists ride on the sidewalk, we don’t particularly like it when you walk in the bike lane. But because of the snow, we are willing to share.

Some things you should know:

1. Its much easier for you to move laterally than it is for us. Especially on ice. So if you can move over when you see us coming, please do so.

2. Quick corrections are impossible while riding a bicycle on ice. If you see us coming, get over early, and stay over letting cyclists know you are not going to be in their way, and giving them time to correct their course around you.

3. Stay on one side of the path. Depending on ice conditions it can be very hard to alter our course while riding. If you stay on one side it gives us a predictable path to pilot around you. Even if you don’t see us behind you it will allow us to safely pass.

4. Remember you are not on the side walk, keep alert, with your head up and free of the distractions of texting while walking.

5. Once the snow is gone, could you please move back over to the pedestrian side of the path. Thanks.

6. And please for the love of all things cute and cuddly, keep your child close to you and don’t let them run around causing accidents like cute little bundles of chaotic evil.

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Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “A Public Service Announcement For Pedestrians On The Bike Path”

  1. By calvin bouknight on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    thirty years ago we made our own studded snow and ice tires. If you can’t make em, buy em. Not cheap($60) but what’s a child’s life worth to you?

  2. By Harry T. Moore on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    Biker Studs

    “Freedom never dies but people do”

    watch out for ice now matter what color

  3. By Chappie James on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    The SW Corridor is not designed for flight.

    Till the city sands the corridor, try walking

  4. By terry on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    “Great Ice” festival currently going on 30 miles from Canadian Border on Lake Champlain. So if you are looking to see what can be done on ice BY BICYCLE head on up this weekend to ride your bike on the largest ice oval south of canada.

    OH , LOCAL MOTION is a fantastic bike organization that just raised 1.5 million to rebuild bike path that was destroyed by flooding two years ago AMAZING WHAT COMMITTED CYCLISTS CAN DO WITHOUT PUBLIC FUNDING


  5. By John_on_Central on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    Now Terry not to burst your bubble but additional funding was provided by FEMA, the communities of Colchester and Burlington, the state, Vermont fish and wildlife, and private contractors. (http://www.localmotion.org/thebigfix)

    What is says in this case is cycling advocates can be a critical element along with city, state, and federal governments in creating and maintaining trails that are beneficial to all users.

    On a note more related to this article, it might be a good idea to take school groups out to these paths and show them how to use them correctly, a bit less of an issue here with more separation, but the Charles River Paths would work well. We need to start training our children on how to interact better in the urban environment, it’s not always just common sense. This includes the great work from Safe Routes to School, but also should be included in drivers ed and in PE or other class curriculum. I remember I learned sidewalk etiquette in kindergarten when we went from the facility to the local school playground about a 10 minute walk away (this was in NH before public kindergarten). Stuff like that is important and this incident underscores that for sure.

    A ringing bell can only help so much…

  6. By any one of us on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply

    QUITE CERTAIN THAT when I was younger I was THE POSTER CHILD FOR CAOTIC EVIL. THANK YOU FOR the psa and POSTING THE NEW PICTURE, I’M SURE SHE WILL LIVE UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS. (Hope she doesn’t grow up to be a truck driver.)

  7. By terry on Feb 12, 2013 | Reply


    Thank you for mentioning those great educational opportunities.

    If the bubble you burst is the idea of a year round geodesic dome Buckminister Fuller wanted to build over the entire city of Wisnooski to moderate the effects of winter temps I’d be upset.

    I’m very use to people misinforming me in little ways. I joined localmotion last september because they promised pizza and beer after their Tweed Bike Ride. They delivered on the food, drink and a wonderfull bike path has been restored.
    After I wrote that 1.5 million was raised without public funds I questioned that myself because it all comes from the public one way or another.

    My undeveloped thoughts about “what committed cyclists can do” in my mind is about maintenance.
    Some cyclists in Boston are pushing for protected cycle tracks, the condition of SW Corridor and the general track record of most major cities for the maintenance of the edge of roadways is atrocious.

    Perhaps 55gal buckets of sand and salt buckets provided periodically along a paved separated path
    and the cyclists could spread it as needed.

    But can we trust the city of Boston to clean the accumulated debris, repair the potholes, the incredible heaving of pavement on Mass Ave or flatten and keep smooth the left side of DZBL’s?

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