Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trail Etiquette - My 6 Guidelines

On Saturday, I had an excellent double workout - 18km running and 45km on the bike. The workout took place on the Cataract - Elora rail trail just south of Orangeville. The 18km was an out and back from my starting point at Mississauga road, looping around the town of Erin and looping around the town of Cataract at the end. My bike ride was from the same starting point, through Erin, Hillsburgh and Orton, turning back at the Orangeville-Fergus highway. It rained most of the time and the trail was soft because of it but I didn't mind because that and the early start meant that I would have the trail to myself. Well, almost...
Inside the townsite of Erin, while on my run portion, I approached a group of 4 women who were walking (waddling - yes, mean but true) with 4 unleashed dogs. I was running toward them and they had a good 400-500 metres to take notice that I was coming up to them. At no point did they attempt to leash their dogs. As I drew closer, I could tell that two of the dogs were still in their undisciplined youth.
When I was within 20-30 metres, one of the dogs charged at me - playfully, of course, but still... As I passed the group, not one even acknowledged my presence. Not one even apologized or gave the typical "Oh, he's just playing - he loves people - he doesn't bite".
After looping around Erin and heading back on the trail (20 minutes, give or take), I found the same group no more than 100 metres up the trail. As I approached this time, I was really not shocked to find fresh dog shit in the middle of the trail and I nice fresh hole about a foot wide also smack dab in the middle of the trail.
Luckily, as I came closer, they decided that it was time to leave the trail, cut across the school field and go back to their homes.
This event is becoming less and less uncommon and it made me think of how people should behave on these multi-use trails that are for everyone to enjoy. These are the common sense guidelines I came up with:
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Yes, you have left the rat race, but you are still on a highway of sorts - a pedestrian highway. If you simply want to escape body and mind, head to an open field and escape all you want. Simply keep your ears and eyes open and respect others around you.
  • Please, please, please keep your dogs on a leash when others are approaching. I know your dog is friendly because they all are. I love dogs and do not fear them, however, there are people out there that are petrified of them and you are causing them undue stress by letting your pooch intimidate them. Besides, a sudden radical move by your dog can cause a runner to pull a muscle or a cyclist to leave the trail.
  • It is not necessary to walk with others with what seems to be a desire to cover the whole width of the trail. Pretend that you are indeed on a pedestrian highway and keep to the right. Why do you want to be so far away from your friend or spouse or family member anyway?
  • Be kind to those you are approaching from behind and give them some kind of warning. A simple "On your right" or "On your left" will go a long way toward not scaring the living shit out of someone and/or causing a collision.
  • I don't believe you have to stoop and scoop on a trail. However, if your dog shits in the middle of the trail, take a stick or rock and flick the do-do to the side. Mother nature will take care of the rest. And, for god sakes, you are not doing anything for the environment by scooping up the crap in a plastic bag and hanging it from a tree branch at the side of the trail! (Yes, I do see this all the time!)
  • Don't litter. Duh! That includes all you smokers who for some reason believe that a cigarette filter is the one exception to all the littering rules.

That's it! That's all we need to do in order to make trail use an enjoyable experience for everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment