Dealing with Aero Bros and Dogwalkers

 

Retracting dog leashes that allow these furry pieces of road furniture to run thirty feet in any direction is as good as the dog being unleashed.

Off-road bike paths are bike routes for scenic rides that generally run alongside creeks and rivers, a popular infrastructure feature found throughout western America. One local to me is Ballona Creek Bike Path in Los Angeles. The BCBP runs over seven miles from McManus Park on National Blvd all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It is a very scenic ride with a bird habitat in the wetlands surrounding it. As you can surmise, there is no vehicle traffic involved here, no traffic lights or stop signs to worry about, just two lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic – one in each direction. Major surface streets and boulevards are crossed by underpasses with no stopping required – the idyllic bicyclist locale. But danger abounds in this paradise – riders must be vigilant and on the lookout for the perils around every corner.

The Aero Bro

High speeds are for racing, Photo by Maico Amorim

On the many occasions that I frequent this beautiful ride to the beach I have encountered numerous violations by other bike riders who think an off-road bike path is their own personal time trial track. These riders are mounted on their svelte, aero carbon bikes, raced by them to attain an imaginary ‘elapsed time’ on their runs to the beach. I have seen these cyclists on a death-defying mission as they run two, three and four abreast at peloton speeds, oblivious or apathetic to the fact there are slower folks riding their bikes for the scenic pleasure, rather than ego pleasure.

Similar to racing cars on the streets, racing on bike paths is very dangerous. Bike paths are narrow, typically with metal or concrete fencing directly adjacent to the path. If a pleasure rider gets in the way of a ‘racer’ there is a possibility that the regular rider could be forced to swerve and lose control of their bike, plunging into the steeply sloped concrete ravine down below, or entangling in metal fence materials along the path. This would be a very serious situation for the hapless rider, who would suffer cuts, bruises and broken bones on the way down – possibly death, especially if not wearing a helmet. Racing a bike is no different than racing a car on public roads, very dangerous and also illegal. If you must race your bike do what a professional racer does – join a club. They hold their rides on streets, not bike paths, as well as the many closed circuits that races are held on. This is a much safer way to stoke your competitive fire, and you will actually face some real competition. Where is the glory in blowing by a regular beach rider who is not in the least bit interested in your high speed exploits on your race bike?

The Dog Walker

Keep your pooch on a tight leash when there are bicyclists on the path, Photo by Olu Eletu

In addition to regular bike riders, there are pedestrians walking their dogs on the bike path – these folks are just as dangerous as the ‘recreational racer’. Retracting dog leashes that allow these furry pieces of road furniture to run thirty feet in any direction is as good as the dog being unleashed. While municipal animal control has near solved the problem of stray dogs roaming the trails, the leashed canine still poses a formidable challenge for the cyclist. Beyond the animal itself being unaware and possibly surprised of your presence, you also have an owner who will react. These variables complicate the passing maneuver, and speed adds leverage to the danger.

#RIDE2BSAFE

Slow down when passing beach cruisers and joggers. Relax the speed when in sight of pedestrians walking their dogs. This is no different from advice you would give to a person driving their car; slow down when encountering unexpected traffic. Alas, some people just don’t care for being safe. They operate their cars and bikes like the proverbial speed demon that can’t be stopped, until they hit something or kill somebody. Don’t let it be you – ride safe out there.