Advocacy and Safety Team: Bicycle Safety on Bike Paths and in Parks

By John Daugherty

MasterLinkJune2015_page20_image9Riding in a safe manner on bike paths and in parks is the way to go! You will have close encounters with pedestrians, rollerbladers, strollers, pets, young children, and fellow cyclists. In addition, bike paths may overlap with park roadways containing cars. I  have been riding and walking the Saddle River County Bike Path since 1979 and have seen it all. Currently, I am on the paths three times a day either walking my dog or bike riding, but this information applies to all bike paths and parks. The goal is to keep everyone safe as they ride or walk along the paths.
Many of the items on this list are based on common sense and courtesy to other path users, rather than the “rules of the road/path.”

  • Ride defensively. Make your pres- ence known when approaching other path users from behind. Ring a bell or shout out “bike passing on your left.” This should be done when you are 10 to 15 feet behind them so they have time to react. Be aware that some people may actually move left in error.
  • Keep safe distance when passing others. After all we are pushing for the three- (or four-foot) rule for autos passing cyclists on the road. Why would we not provide the same courtesy to our fellow path users? As a pedestrian/dog walker I have had bicyclists pass me within six inches or less.
  • Avoid the use of head phones. This may prevent you from hearing someone approaching from be- hind. Please note that other path
    users may be using headphones preventing them from hearing any warning from you or other path users.
  • Do not use your cell phone while riding. This may seem very logical, but I have witnessed this on many occasions. Also be aware that other path users may be distracted by the use of cell phones or while looking at the screen on their iPhones.
  • Ride at a “reasonable” speed; bike paths are not designed for racing. Maximum speed should be in the
    15-16 mph range (only when others are not in close proximity), slowing down as you pass others. Small children and dogs can be unpredictable in their movements.
  • Be courteous; do not shout at others who may not be sharing the path. Many times as I approach people walking three or four abreast, they will fail to move even after being made aware of my presence. Just say “please share the path, thanks”
  • As BTCNJ members we should set an example for those that are less knowledgeable about safe cycling. As bicycling ambassadors we can help prevent accidents. Please note that others may observe the fact that you are wearing a BTCNJ jersey and may make assumptions (fair or not) about the club based on your behavior.
  • Obey all traffic rules/signs where the path overlaps an active road- way which includes stop signs, one way designations, etc. Use com-
    mon sense; do not put yourself at risk, safe maneuvers only. There is a constant flow of bike riders (in- cluding fellow BTCNJ members) riding against the flow of traffic in the Dunkerhook section of the SRC Bike Path. When riding north on the bike path follow the road to the right and make a left into the park entrance so that you are riding in the correct direction. You will note that the park exit has two large red and white “Do Not Enter” signs which are unfortunately largely ig- nored. Riding in the wrong direction is both dangerous and illegal!
  • Let’s set an example for others. I have seen many accidents due to people going the wrong direction on these roadways over the years, both bike-car and bike-bike acci- dents. This applies with the park loop roads in the Glen Rock Duck Pond area and the Ridgewood Duck Pond area as well. Limit or minimize your risk by obeying these signs. Just recently while driving my car on the Glen Rock Duck Pond outer loop road, a BTCNJ member exited the parking lot failing to stop and turned the wrong way on the road directly in front of me. The fact we were both going at slow speeds prevented a serious accident. This should not happen, please do not disregard traffic signs whether they are in the park or on the roads.

Always keep safety in mind whether you are riding on a bike path or on the road. Let’s be safe out there and enjoy the ride!