In most places, mountain bikers use multi-use trails. This means that we share the trail with hikers and sometimes horseback riders or even motorcycles. That being said, it is important to always be cautious around other types of trail users in order to be respectful. Being respectful is important because there are more and more multi-use trails being closed to mountain bikers because there have been too many accidents where bikers and other trail users collide. Respectful riding isn’t only nice for other trail users but helps maintain our access to trails. In places like Santa Barbara, CA there has been so much conflict between mountain bikers and other trail users that it led to booby traps being set for mountain bikers. Boulders were rolled onto the trail around blind corners and piano wire has been strung up at a rider’s head level. Let’s try and avoid conflict and ride respectfully with good mountain biking etiquette.
Mountain Biking Etiquette
- Wear a Bell when you mountain bike – this will let other trail users know that mountain bikers are coming through. This is especially helpful where there are blind corners. While the bells can be pretty annoying to ride with the whole time, people tend to hear you a long ways off and get out of your way quickly. If you borrow a bell at the beginning of the trail, return it when you are done. (use a cowbell, not a wimpy little bell)
- Slow down when you come up on other people on the trail, especially if you come up behind them. – this is really common sense but slow down so you don’t scare them. I have been going slow and passed friends hiking and they thought I was going fast. People who don’t mountain bike have different expectations and perceptions of the word fast….
- When you pass someone tell them that you are going to pass on the right or left
- Be able to stop within half of the distance that you can see ahead of you
- take it a little slower around blind corners, even if there is an awesome berm. Exception, if you have a buddy go first and yell at you that it’s all clear, go ahead and tear it up.
- When you are going downhill, yield to uphill bikers and other trail users.
- Yield to hikers and horseback riders. Hikers should also yield to horseback riders. Motorcycles yield to all other trail users.
- Push yourself, but don’t ride out of control.
- Use common sense – let’s all go home alive. Don’t be an idiot and crash with other trail users or hurt yourself as this makes closing mountain bike trail access more likely