Please pedal politely: Remember to use proper etiquette while biking the Core Trail
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Win Dermody sponsors the section of the Yampa River Core Trail nearest to Bear River Skate Park. He’s only required to walk it and report on it once a month, but he walks it every other day, along with other sections of the beloved Core Trail.
Dermody, 85, enjoys being by the river, as does his wife, Elaine, who prefers to use her pedal-assist electric bicycle. They both love taking in the sights and sounds of the river while getting exercise and some fresh air.
Then, a cyclist will whiz by with no warning, startling them both.
“I like to daydream, and obviously we like the outdoors and we like the clouds in the sky and the water,” said Win. “I’m just daydreaming out there and people, they don’t realize how they scare you. They just jar you into reality in a millisecond.”
It’s not news that the 7.5-mile, multiuse trail that runs through Steamboat is busy. It’s the main artery that pumps carless commuters, tubers and visitors through the heart of the city. The more people-packed the paved path gets, the more important it is to remember who has the right of way, and other common courtesies.
Just a few days ago, Elaine was riding on her unmissable, fluorescent yellow bike, when someone attempted to pass her on the right. She caught a glimpse of the rider as they pulled next to her, riding the edge of the pavement like a tightrope. She tried to pull left, but the bikes bumped back tires, sending Elaine onto the sidewalk. Thankfully, she was okay, but still rattled.
Elaine has so many negative experiences on the trail, that she felt compelled to write a letter to the editor.
Her only request was that people announce themselves ahead of passing so she can avoid being startled, and grant the passer as much space as she can allow.
“It’s not as they’re passing you. They ring the bell as they’re about to knock you off the trail. It’s not enough notice,” said Elaine. “They have to announce themselves ahead of time, and they have to do it loud enough so you can hear them and you move, and they don’t startle you.”
People must always pass on the left, and only when it is safe. If there is another person, cycling or otherwise, coming in the other direction, it’s best to wait before passing. Squeezing three moving objects across the path is not safe.
Jenny Carey, the Open Space and Trails supervisor at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department, said that she hears complaints about the Core Trail periodically, with passing being the biggest issue.
“For example, somebody is walking and then a bike flies by them at high speed and doesn’t let them know and doesn’t announce themselves, that’s definitely startling for people,” said Carey. “That’s probably one of our biggest complaints.”
A reminder of the rules
Right-of-way and other rules are posted at kiosks along the Core Trail and can also be spotted on small signs created by the Colorado Department of Transportation which were added along the trail last week, according to Carey.
The rules that dictate all roads and multiuse trails in Colorado can be found at bicyclecolorado.org. There are just two. You must announce yourself before passing and cannot exceed 15 mph.
“As things get busier, it’s important to really remember to be patient and courteous on the Core Trail,” said Carey. “Because especially during those busy times, there’s a lot of people out there. Just keep that awareness, and watch out for each other and realize that a lot of people want to use this amenity.”
- Stay to the right side.
- Alert others before passing on the left.
- Respect all other trail users.
- Travel at a safe speed.
- Throw all trash in cans.
- Recycle if available.
- Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
- Respect the environment.
Electric assisted bicycles, also known as EABs or e-bikes, are a hot-button issue in Steamboat. While the popular bikes are not permitted on any hard or soft paths or trails, some are allowed on the paved sections of the Yampa River Core Trail and the Walton Creek Trail. Type I e-bikes, which have a motor that provides assistance to pedaling, are allowed, but Type II, bikes with a throttle-actuated motor, are not. The city’s e-bike policy can be found at steamboatprings.net.
Pedego in downtown Steamboat has 12 e-bikes to rent out and often are booked up on the weekends. Matthew Coop, owner of the store, said he gives people a brief rundown on the city’s e-bike rules when explaining how the bikes work. He asks them to respect the rules of the Core Trail and to simply be aware of their surroundings.
“Let’s not just be on the throttle the whole time,” Coop said. “Use the pedal-assist. That gives e-bikes a bad name if you’re just sitting there on the throttle.”
He urges people not to hold disdain against e-bike users. Often people who are older, have a disability or are recovering from an injury take advantage of the motorized bicycles, and they should not be shunned for that.
Of course, there are also plenty of skinny tire bikes that zip along the trail as well. Regardless of speed or ability, cyclists need to remember that the Core Trail is a multiuse recreational trail. It is not meant to be the speediest route through town, but rather, the most beautiful and the most convenient.
“It is just one of the greatest assets of this city,” said Elaine.
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