Trail incident has other ramifications

July 11, 2019

As a fond user of the new trails, I was troubled by last week’s letter from John Kurpjuweit, president of Sussex Cyclists. His purpose was to offer an explanation for the apparent harassment of trail-user Ms. McGlade and to tout some of the safety measures taken by his membership on group rides.

He states that “on the trails we point out pedestrian traffic with the words ‘walker up’ or ‘runner up,’ both used to signal cyclists to stay single file and to the right. Usually these warnings are repeated by each rider so that everyone in line gets the message” and that these are “some of the things that make our group rides safe.”

No. These are things that allow them to justify continuation of behavior that is unsafe and inappropriate for multipurpose trails with heavy use by seniors. Having to signal down the line means that individual riders are densely packed and dependent on others for situational awareness. It means that at times the snake has just one head, and its body may not be able to respond effectively, like emergency stopping for example, to something unusual in the actions of others on the trail. I can see the pileup now.

Moreover, this kind of aerodynamic riding is performance-oriented. It might be right for racing or open-road touring, but the speed differences it encourages between trail users is not good.

By the way, given the political climate, I’d say Ms. McGlade might have expected a verbal response to her Hillary Clinton hat. As long as she was not assaulted, threatened or subjected to profanity, it’s a nothingburger.

John Bartram

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