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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
Trail Behavior


My wife & I were on the Katy on Sunday, 9/5, from New Franklin to Hartsburg & back. I wish to state for the record that I found the level of inconsideration, thoughtlessness, & downright rudeness on the part of numerous cyclists to be absolutely appalling. And by far & away, the majority of this behavior came from those who present themselves as “serious cyclists.” We encountered numerous riders who simply came barreling past with no announcement of themselves whatsoever, traveling at high speed. Yes, I know that we all need to be aware of what’s around us, but this action is especially dangerous in that startling others either on bike or foot can cause serious problems. I personally also find it extremely rude of anyone who refuses to acknowledge others on the trail, as if they feel that they are just too good for the common folk. I have been riding the Katy for at least 6 years now & would have to say that I saw more rudeness & discourtesy in this one day than I have in the last 6 years put together. What made matters worse, too, was that being a holiday weekend, there were many families with small or young children, who do at times have a tendency to be children & not follow the proper rules of the trail, no matter how hard Mom & Dad try to keep them in line. These ‘serious cyclists’ also created an unsafe & hostile atmosphere for them as well. I understand that the majority of truly serious cyclists would never act in this manner, & I apologize in advance for offending these people. Those who do act in the manner described above know who you are and now know what others think of you & your behavior.

David from Kansas
posted Sep 8 2010 10:44PM - David from Kansas, Kansas City

I'll second that...
posted Sep 9 2010 5:52PM - Mark, West Des Moines

I have a considerble amount of hearing loss and unless someone coming from behind announces themselves, I may not have noticed them in the side view mirror.

Courtesy and common sense go a long way.
posted Sep 10 2010 3:32PM - Mark, Columbia, MO

Hi David and I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and experience. I have not encountered quite as many such people as you seem to have but I make a point of greeting everyone I pass on the trail, just a Hello or a nod in some cases. To completely ignore such a greeting is downright rude and has nothing to do with bicycling, just common courtesy. I must say that MOST folks return the greeting and often greet with real friendliness. Way to go folks! And it is true that the ones who do not respond seem to be the "serious" riders, full biking outfit, nose to the wheel, etc. Hey guys! If I said hello walking down the street would you refuse to respond? Maybe its just me. Recently I rode Jeff City to Tebbetts, I passed just ONE guy. He refused to speak. I guess it must be me.
posted Sep 14 2010 5:40AM - Chuck L, Jefferson City

Sorry, brother! I’m a cyclist who usually goes at a higher rate of speed. When I’m motoring I pretty much always use a bell. When I’m tired, though, and I’m barely moving (~12 – 14 mph), it seems like a huge effort to me to use it. I’ve noted, though, that you’d like cyclists to warn all the time and I’ll try to do it.

From a cyclist’s perspective, what I would suggest is to provide some feedback: positive or negative. I never know whether announcing my passing is appreciated or considered—I don’t know…showing off? Don’t know how to put it. Like I’m some kind of hot shot, you know? So, I’d suggest giving a wave when cyclists do warn of their passing. This lets me know 1) you heard, 2) you probably appreciate. For negative feedback just yell at the most offensive cyclists “please say ‘on your left’!” or something to that effect. They may not hear, though, because headphones are common.

One more suggestion: reason I use a bell rather than say “on your left” is that I feel it’s more effective. Some people don’t know their right from left or at least they have to think about it for a few seconds, so when they hear you’re going to pass on the left, it creates a dangerous back and forth with both of us zig zagging across the trail. Another thing I’ve noticed is that when people hear “on your left” for some reason they don’t move right or stay straight, but rather they look over their left shoulder to see who said that and their whole body follows. Again, this leads them to the direction I was going to pass them on. Dangerous. All readers, please resist this impulse and just move right.
posted Sep 15 2010 12:13PM - Kurt, St. Charles

I have noticed that the "Lance wannabes" as I refer to them are absolute jerks - toward pedestrians, other cyclists, little kids - mostly male, but some are young women.
posted Sep 15 2010 1:16PM - James Mason, Dallas, TX

We have the same problem on the Big Dam Bridge her in NLR/LR. Since I am more ruuner than biker I can offer a simple observation. Runners seem to be much more social and bikers much more cliquish. Runners tend to be much less competitivie where bikers are very competitive. It is nice that we have these improved facilities and trails for ALL to use. From a runners perpective bikers seem rude. From a bikers perspective runners/walkers are merely a nuisance. I agree that the best accomodation would be for all to smile, alert and acknowledge. Have the good time you go out there for and just smile when the rude nerds fly by. You'll feel better.
posted Sep 15 2010 2:15PM - Frank, Little Rock

Thank you all for your positive feedback! As for calling out, I usually try to call out something to the effect of "Coming up behind you" from about 50 feet back. I like to have folks be able to know I'm there before I'm on top of them (keeps them from having a heart attack), & I totaly agree re giving greeting as we pass. Thanks again!
posted Sep 15 2010 2:43PM - Dave from Kansas

There is a speed limit on the trail 10 mph - or is that just on the Frisco Highline? Regardless, don't the rules for the trail state clearly that you are to announce when you are going to pass someone. And you should do so far in advance as not to startle them and to give them time to move over safely. Or, are these merely suggetions?We could look at the other rules - like, no trash - pets on a leash, etc. These rules are there to keep people safe. (And no, I don't know that your dog does not bite, he's not my friend as I have never met him. And oops, your dog is attached to my leg with it's teeth? Wow my problem, I should have kept my leg out of his mouth?) Everyone wants to have a good time, an enjoyable time. I holler out a good ways back to show respect and allow time for the person ahead to think and would appreciate that they acknowlege they heard me and I usually keep calling out until they do before I pass. I have to laugh at the person who says "motoring" - motors are for the highway! Just kidding - since 12-14 mph is my "motoring speed." I love the Katy - I've even grown to love the desert between Clinton and Calhoun, Bryson rocks!(Whatever) In closing: "May you have air in your tires and not in your head, water in your bottle and not on the trail."
posted Sep 15 2010 2:53PM - Maggie, Kansas

Good one Maggie - you made my day.
posted Sep 15 2010 3:19PM - Gary, Near Tebbetts

I would just like to point out that there are as many rude runners as there are bikers (I am both a runner and a cyclist). Runners simply have more time to socialize with a nod or hello. Sometimes a cyclist is really cruising and passing a lot of people and to say hi to every soul on a trail would be overkill. How about instead of demonizing bikers we acknowledge that there are simply rude people who happen to be riding bikes (or running). I have often struggled with the same thing as others...sometimes you announce you are coming and you get a dirty look. Sometimes people dont hear the bell. My solution is to try to do the bell and as I get closer, say "passing on the left". if I get a dirty look I assume someone just doesnt understand the custom. No harm no foul.
posted Sep 15 2010 8:41PM - Jim, st louis

It kind of looks like city folks complaining about other city folks.
posted Sep 15 2010 10:25PM - Anonymous

Leaving out the Saint Charles area, I may ride the whole trail and see 10 other bikes during the week. Being a lonely soul, I appreciate any contact with humanity. Only problem I have had was when I was lost in my thoughts and not paying attention.
posted Sep 17 2010 9:13PM - Anonymous

I've been riding the MKT and Katy since '98, and I signal that I'm passing probably 90% of the time. Occasionally, people look back and see me coming, or they're wearing headphones, so I see no point in calling ahead if it's not needed or won't be heard.

While I see your point that many cyclist are rude, you also have to keep in mind that the trail--like a road--has general traffic rules, even if they're not written in stone. Stay to the right, look behind yourself, and pay full attention to those around you.

I don't know how many times I've yelled, "ON YOUR LEFT!" only to be ignored due to headphone use, people chatting and not paying attention to anyone else, etc. I also have a lot of issues with people walking their dogs on those extending leashes and not caring that they are, in effect, taking up the entire width of the trail. Add conversing on top of that, and cyclists quickly end up at a road block whether we signal or not.

Also, if I chose to ignore you, it's not because I think I'm better than you. Maybe I had a bad day at work; maybe I'm thinking about boobs; maybe I'm singing a song in my head and can't work out a lyric. Anyway, it's not about you, so leave your narcissism at home, and don't try to put it off on others.
posted Sep 19 2010 11:17PM - Aaron, Columbia

Aaron, that needed to be said, any you hit it right on the head.
posted Sep 20 2010 4:46PM - Chris J, Centralia, IL

Then again Aaron, perhaps you have your head up your ass.
posted Sep 20 2010 5:35PM - Dave from Kansas

Then again Aaron, perhaps you have your head up your ass.
posted Sep 20 2010 5:37PM - Dave from Kansas

Perhaps, you are one of the very ones described above, along with the problem of narcissism, since you obviously have not a thought for anyone else on the trail.
posted Sep 21 2010 2:29PM - Dave from Kansas

People use the KATY trail for a variety of reasons, none of which are "wrong". This time of year, some folks want to go out for a quiet stroll and see the changing of seasons. Others go for a 10 mile bike ride to get some much needed exercise. Others use the trail as a training grounds for running or cycling events. Some just like to be able to ride their bikes or run without worrying about car traffic. At most times, the trail is plenty wide enough for everyone, but please don't take up the whole trail with a 20' dog leash, or run 4 abreast, or ride bikes 3 abreast at 8 mph unless you are keeping an eye out for those who don't want to use the trail in the same way that you do. Not everyone wants to stop and chat with you, and not everyone wants to be chatted to.

For those folks not acquainted with cycling etiquette - "On Your Left" means that there is someone approaching from behind on your left hand side and will be passing you very soon. If you hear "On Your Left", please keep to the right and hold your line to avoid a collision.
posted Sep 22 2010 4:41PM - Steve M, Festus MO

Dave, when you are driving your car, do you expect everyone to wave to you and honk when they pass? Although it's not a highway, on a bike trail the cyclist has responsibilities to know what is comming up behind, just like driving a car. If you put yourself in a position where you are "startled" everytime someone passes you, you are the dangerous one. I just spent Saturday on the KATY and met a lot of people. Many smiled and waved, some didn't acknowledge me, but it didn't occur to me that they were all narcissistic.

Just enjoy the trail without finding fault with everyone that doesn't behave the way you want them to.
posted Sep 22 2010 11:25PM - ChrisJ, Centralia, IL

Oh Chris! That question you asked is ridiculous. No one is driving cars on the trail, (atleast they are not supposed to,) so there is no comparing. But since you have, don't you have the responsibility to avoid hitting someone or something? Defensive driving. Duh. To insinuate that Dave is putting himself "in a position to be startled" and "the dangerous one," is ridiculous, as well. Get over yourself. Dave is making a valid point and he appears to be asking more people to ACT IN A SAFE MANNER, that's all. I don't think it is too much to ask. It's about caring for others and behaving in a safe manner and to think about others and not always, "ME, ME, ME." Is it too much to ask? Or are we too 'serious?'
posted Sep 23 2010 7:33PM - Mark, MO

Just curious, but why don't more people ride the trail? It can't be because of rude people.

Man, if I only lived closer I would ride several times a week.
posted Sep 24 2010 12:38AM - Brad

Brad, those deemed "rude" are far in the minority. Fortunately, there are many more that are cordial and considerate than those that are not. Some of us do ride two or three times a week when possible and are not averse to a tip of head, wave of the hand, a hi, hello, good morning, ding of the bell, an "on the left", it's just not that taxing. Maybe I'm not a serious cyclist. For those that don't mess with all that, no problemo for me, it's their parade as they see it.
posted Sep 24 2010 7:36AM - Darrell, Jeff City, Mo.

Well, now that everyone has contibuted various opinions (which are like noses, everyone has one) I choose to be part of the solution and not the problem and will ride safely and be considerate and respectful to all and encourage others.
posted Sep 24 2010 1:08PM - Maggie, Kansas

The problem with the original post is that it singles out one group. Inconsiderate and oblivious behavior is practiced by people doing all sorts of activities on the trail, not just lycra-clad cyclists. Even then, this is exceptional in my experience. The trail is wide and there is room for everybody.
posted Sep 27 2010 1:37PM - MLH, Overland Park, KS

The problem with the original post is that it singles out one group. Inconsiderate and oblivious behavior is practiced by people doing all sorts of activities on the trail, not just lycra-clad cyclists. Even then, this is exceptional in my experience. The trail is wide and there is room for everybody.
posted Sep 27 2010 2:10PM - MLH, Overland Park, KS

The problem with the original post is that it singles out one group. Inconsiderate and oblivious behavior is practiced by people doing all sorts of activities on the trail, not just lycra-clad cyclists. Even then, this is exceptional in my experience. The trail is wide and there is room for everybody.
posted Sep 27 2010 2:11PM - MLH, Overland Park, KS

...and my apologies as I am not certain how my post was sent in triplicate. Ray you may delete the extras if you wish.
posted Sep 27 2010 2:16PM - MLH, Overland Park, KS

Simply put...Everyone on the trail needs to "take responsibility" for themselves, and their actions. Just follow the rules that are listed on the boards at various stops along the way...All I have read from the replies above is how each of us in inconveniencing the other. Read and follow: [ RIGHT-OF-WAY. When approaching oncoming users, always move to the right of the trail. Always pass on the left side, and make your intentions known by announcing your approach. Bicyclists should yield to pedestrians. Everyone should yield to horseback riders. ]
posted Sep 29 2010 4:03PM - Greg, Fenton

And...Everyone on the trail needs to give others some grace too. If someone doesn't wave at you or perform exatly as you would like them too, don't get bent out of shape about it. Perhaps you're just not in their plan at the moment. They probably don't mean to harm the sensitive ego.
posted Sep 29 2010 4:52PM - Forrester

This is simple....I am part Native American and when passing on the trail I use a call,"YAYAYAYAYA LALA." One can hear it from a mile away. I suggest everyone practice and use the call.
posted Sep 30 2010 1:01AM - Hawkeye, O'Fallon

I'm with Aaron. Except for the boobs part. I too wear spandex and ride fast. Get over it. I smile at other riders and greet them when possible. I usually try my best to voice my arrival "on your left" but some folks don't understand what that means. I once had an old guy snark at me as I rode past, this AFTER I practically screamed that I'm a coming and he was stopped at the side of the road WATCHING ME APPROACH. Dude must not have had his hearing aid in or his glasses cleaned. Mostly I notice that people startle violently and this sometimes results in them going down (seen it and yes, I stopped to lend aid). I always dread coming up on the groups who take up the entire trail but I tell myself that I was a beginner once too. "On your left" is standard biking etiquette. If you're going to use the Katy you should acquaint yourself with the rules or suffer the consequences.
posted Sep 30 2010 2:02PM - Jules, Lake Saint Louis

It doesn't bother me when people don't greet me. I don't see a lack of being friendly as being rude. It's just neutral. I wouldn't purposely ignore a person's greeting. But if I'm riding hard I might not realize they greeted me until a couple seconds after. I seldom initiate a greeting. Unless someone is stopped with mechanical trouble, then you'll always hear from me. The outgoingness of cyclists is directly related to the population density of cyclists. When I ride on an L.A. bike path, I'll probably see at least 50 cyclists on an hour ride. It's tedious to greet every one of them. When I was riding through Death Valley, I was really excited that I saw another cyclist. On a tour, I'm friendlier and want to say hi to people. When I'm out for a hard ride, I just want to ride. I don't think you should be bothered by that difference in my attitude.

It is the responsibility of all to share the trail. Part of this means allowing people to pass you safely. If you can't be passed without freaking out and swerving, you have a problem you need to work on. It's nice to call out "on your left" but it shouldn't cause problems if someone does not.

Children are unpredictable traffic hazards. I love taking my nephew riding but it was stressful when he was 5. Parents need to make a judgment call. If your kid can't ride their own bike safely with other people around, put them on a tagalong bike. Tagalong bikes are awesome! When my nephew was 8, I took him on a 33 mile ride on a tagalong and he didn't want to stop. I intentionally do not call out "on your left" when passing a group with young children. The children often look over their left shoulder and swerve into you. I don't blame kids for being traffic hazards. But I will blame their parents.
posted Oct 1 2010 9:23PM - Greg, Gardner, KS

Tags: Calhoun, Jefferson City, Clinton, St Charles, New Franklin, Tebbetts, Hartsburg, Franklin, Bryson, Water, Route Suggestions, Other Trails, Animals and Plants, Hiking, Running, Tires, Events Modify Tags

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