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There are innumerable right ways and great reasons to get outdoors and move. In our second month of pandemic-related directives and guidelines, regions across the nation and communities here in Arkansas have seen a lot of people do just that. Many of us are working at home alongside children and spouses doing the same. Sheltering in place brings us all a unique set of doldrums and, desperate for fresh air and a sense of freedom, we have moved more of our recreational activity outdoors.
As it turns out, there are also plenty of wrong ways to go about going for a walk or a bike ride. With more people outside, the rules and courtesy involved in sharing the walkways and roads with our community tend to get overlooked.
Lowell resident Stephna Masters takes to the roads in Northwest Arkansas, the Razorback Greenway and its connecting trails almost every day as part of her preparation for the next marathon or Half Ironman competition. A nationally-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she has logged thousands of miles in Arkansas in the service of her clients and preparing for events. Masters has long been a persistent advocate for people of all ages to be physically active and is glad to see more of us outside. But with the influx of crowds, she has witnessed disregard for the rules of walking and biking.
“Many people using the paths and walkways don’t follow the rules printed on big signs, or on the small reminder signs all throughout the trail system.”
Masters has recently had to ask people in groups on the trails not to block the path by walking side-by-side with three or four people across. Cyclists need to obey the trail speed limits and give a verbal indication when they are about to pass others. Bikers on the road should use hand signals to indicate to drivers when they are about to turn. Dogs should always be on a leash.
Kara King is the trails coordinator for the City of Rogers Parks and Recreation Department. When it comes to etiquette guidelines, she says there is no difference between walking and running on trails and walking and running on sidewalks.
“Bikers and pedestrians should move to the right when stopping. Whether you are waiting for someone to catch up to you or checking your phone, please remember to move to the side of the path to allow others to pass.”
King also urges everyone to use caution when crossing streets and passing other people by giving a warning when passing and yielding to oncoming bikers and pedestrians.
Masters and King encourage all of us to do what we can to appropriately let others know of our presence with reflective or bright-colored clothing and proper tools like bike reflectors and bells. They both emphasize the importance of maintaining an awareness of our surroundings.
The hope is that we’ll all continue these good habits by staying active even when our community is back to our new normal and that we will all follow the rules when we do.
Resources for best practices and state rules involving pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles include the Arkansas State Police, the Code of Arkansas of Public Access through LexisNexis, BikeNWA.org, and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
No triple wide across the trail
Dogs on a leash
Hand signals, verbal signals
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