Whatcha know ’bout Trail Etiquette?

Have you ever been in a situation on the trail where you thought about the procedure for those “understood rules”? I present to you the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s ‘Rules of the Trail’.  For most people, this would be common sense, but for new cyclists…this is the fine line between an exchange on the trail, or being ‘that’ guy/girl. When practicing trail etiquette, the rules just come naturally. Dictionary.com provides the term etiquette below:

1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any classor community or for any occasion.2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or otherformal observances.

3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of aprofession in their dealings with each other: medical etiquette.

dictionary.com; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/etiquette?s=t
Within any type of sport or organization, there are rules.  It’s a given.  Etiquette is often understood as manners, however, it’s important to see that it’s a common behavior.  If you can learn the etiquette for a specific type of situation, you can easily abide by the rules or understand them without direction.  In this case, lets see the six rules that the IMBA wishes us to abide by.
Ride Open Trails – This means OPEN trails.  It doesn’t mean ‘wide open’ cleared out trails.  Make sure you have permission or land use agreements for what you ride.  State and Federal parks are usually a given, but make sure cyclists are welcome.
Leave No Trace – Obviously throw away your trash and clean up, but this means environmental impact.  When you hear the term footprint, it means what you leave behind.  Make sure not to tear up your trail and don’t create new ones.
Control Your Bicycle – It’s easier than you think.  Don’t ride over your limits.  Control your bike and you’re fine.

Yield Appropriately -This is HUGE. When I first started getting out on public trails, I didn’t understand the said rule about yielding to uphill bikers.  What’s easier?  Coast down or Pedal up?

Watch your corners, all motorized vehicles yield to self powered cycles.  Pay attention to one way single-tracks as well.  I’ve see it go bad for people thinking they had the right a way, then wind up injured.

Never Scare Animals – Whose home is it?  Would you be startled if someone rode through your living room or den? It’s tough to give animals time when you are barreling down hill, but I think this rule is meant to give time to animals crossing the trail or disturbing cattle in free roam situations.
Plan Ahead – The biggest take away for me in this “rule” is to strive to be self sufficient.  Always wear a helmet, keep your bike maintained, carry parts, and ride responsibly.
I know that these rules are common sense to most, but I find that using etiquette on trails will allow you to adapt to these rules without seeing them as rules.  Use that brain God gave ya, and treat others the way you would want to be treated.

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