On this morning’s walk I came within a whisker of being struck by a bicycle.
It happened on one of the darkest parts of the leisure path, where there are no street lights. The cyclist didn’t have a headlight. I could see him because there was a dim red light on the back of his bike, but he apparently didn’t see me. I moved to the right edge of the path, but he kept veering inexorably over in my direction. I’m guessing he was fiddling with his gear or water bottle and wasn’t paying attention; I’m fairly confident no one has put out a bicycle hit on me. Finally, I trotted off the leisure path to get out of his way, and the sudden movement got his attention. He said “Sorry!” as he righted his bike and went whizzing past, and I emerged from the encounter unscathed, with only an adrenalin surge to remember him by.
There’s always been an uneasy truce between cyclists and walkers on leisure paths and sidewalks. Bicycles move much faster than pedestrians, of course, and it’s unnerving to hear cyclists shout “On your left!” from behind you before they go flying by. When I see cyclists weaving though the people on the path, I’m tempted to think that the path should be reserved for walkers and joggers. Then I remember that I ride my bicycle on the path, too, because it’s a great ride — a smooth path, unhindered by stop signs or cars that drive too close, with a cool tunnel, little hills to get the blood pumping, and long coasting runs. It’s perfect for cycling, just as it’s perfect for a brisk, head-clearing morning walk.
There’s no reason why cyclists, pedestrians, and joggers can’t share the leisure path, day or night or early morning. But the cyclists need to really pay attention, especially when it’s dark outside. Having a light on the front of the bicycle would help, too.