Common Sense Trail Sharing
The “Common Sense” Rant
There have been many studies of how regulations are successful.
Many show that if the regulations are reasonable, the many users will be agreeable, and respect the rules that govern everything from trails to highways.
What are the responsibilities of each user?
Many hikers go out without giving any consideration to what some would call “common sense”. Taking water, calling someone and letting them know where they are going, when they might return, wildlife and the possibility of conflict, foot ware, map, compass, is there cell phone service, weather, and what to do in case of an emergency. If a dog is added into the situation, what could reasonably be expected? Again, “common sense” for many might include a dog leash. How many hikers control their dogs when another user comes along (controls their dog by having it or them on a leash)? If a horse and rider come along, a dog that is not used to seeing a horse could run out and bark even if it was sitting beside the hiker.
They have expectations as well. Some similar, but again “common sense” may suggest that the horse has had some training and exposure to a mountain bike riding past, an ORV sitting at the side of the trail, a hiker and dog on the trail. Without such exposure and training, the horse could react very dangerously. Has the rider followed the “common sense” regulations we all take for granted? – water, calling someone, map, compass, wildlife, weather, and other as above? What extra precaution should a horse rider do when overtaking a hiker?
The Bike Rider
What is their responsibility when heading out? Where is the ” common sense”? – tire pressure, tire repair kit, how to change a tire, bike condition, bearings, chain, trail condition, water, wildlife, maps, and other suggestions as mentioned above.
What happens if the rider over takes a horse or a hiker? Is the user prepared to meet or be passed? Many horse riders have mentioned bike riders are most dangerous for horse riders because the horse did not hear them riding up on them, and all of a sudden they are passing. Hikers are the same, without being prepared for the bike rider, was their dog controlled, were they alert for the biker?
Cross Country Skiing Users
What are their “common sense ” responsibilities as above? – water, wildlife, maps, and such. How about what side of the trail to establish their track on? Would it be better on the left or right? Would the snowmobile user be better to be on the right and cross country skier on the left or the OVR user who completely wrecked the cross skiing track. They did not think about the other users. Where was their “common sense”, or were they even aware there was a cross country ski trail and that they would wreck it by their actions?
Their “common sense” would include making sure they are aware of their training and the condition of their machine as well as above mentioned readiness. What precautions should be taken when they pass another user?
“Common sense ” would be similar to the other users including training , equipment condition, needed survival equipment, awareness of others, and precautions when meeting other users. Such as stopping and shutting their machine off when meeting horses, watching out for “Spot” when coming across a hiker with a dog. Also, carrying equipment to clear obstacles that may be present, first aid kit, tire repair, compressor and be able to assist other users if needed.
Many of these concerns have not been addressed by promoters of the shared use trails. There are too many users who are not prepared to be on the trail, creating conflict and a very unpleasant experience. All we all want is to have users be responsible, use “common sense”, and enjoy their time on the trail.