A local councillor, who receives the Adelaide BUG newsletter, asked a question.

I have had a query about shared use paths from a cyclist.
He thinks pedestrians move out of his way better when he rings his bell on coming up behind them if there is a central line marking as on the Marion part of the Coast Park, whereas Holdfast Bay generally does not mark the centre of the path. The cyclist presumes that, seeing the centre line, people can orient themselves more easily and move more quickly out of his way.
Do you, BUG or any other cyclists you know have any opinion on the merits of marking the centre of a shared use path?

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Not all pedestrians (and their dogs) will share a ‘shared path’ or move left at the sound of a bike bell. Some pedestrians are deliberately belligerent, wanting to make a ‘shared path’ a pedestrian-only domain.
I do not know well the mentioned section of the Coast Park. I wonder if it is the centre line that makes any difference. Perhaps it is pedestrian and bicycle logos suggesting that people keep left, and also reminding pedestrians to expect cyclists there.
I like Sam’s idea of displayed hints on how to share a path. Worth a try to encourage considerate people to share.

Sections of the coast park become virtually unrideable on sunny weekends due to groups of oblivious pedestrians blocking its entire width, centre line or not. I tend to avoid the path on those days, ride on parallel streets instead.

Unfortunately - and I say this from experience - this congestion is often more an issue of the pathway's limited capacity than of conflict or deliberate obstruction per se. When it's very heavily used in summer there is often simply not enough room on the pathway to accomodate 'mixed traffic'. There are a few sections in Semaphore where the pathway widens and where alternative 'by passes' have been provided but they are rare. Commonsense is required. I have come to be a strong believer in contributing to 'pathway culture'. Most of those who use the Coast Park between Semaphore and Outer Harbor are regulars. They (we) have come to learn the ropes - stick to the left, be polite, ring your bell before passing, acknowledge each other, say 'good morning', pass slowly and most importantly share your enjoyment of the great environment. I can't speak for other shared use pathways but this shared culture is most definitely emerging along the Coastal Way. I do believe that the signs laid down by CCS have contributed and PA/E is planning to install some as well. No dotted (or solid) lines either... 

As a pedestrian and cyclist I prefer bell ringing, but it needs to be done well in advance -  don't ring your bell just a few seconds before passing a pedestrian or you can often startle them.

This of course works well for pedestrians not wearing ear buds.

From my audiology training (and from working in offices next to main roads) I understand that low sound frequencies penetrate physical barriers (such as ear buds and headphones) far, far more effectively than high frequencies. So it stands to reason that for shared use pathways you need one of these... ;-)

Also, the higher registers are the first to go as we age. The elderly are more likely to hear a horn than a high pitched ring.

Although, I seem to have far fewer dramas now I have a LOUD bell.

I understand the Yanks have a different solution:

LOL. I use to have an air zound. Much easier to lug around.

I'm not sure how serious some of these replies are, but I'd regard a loud horn as far too confrontational on footpaths, especially since it us who always have to give way.

On the road however, a bell is useless so an air horn might be a good idea.

If I did use the airzound it would have been after a couple of ignored rings but I agree, no need to be aggressive.

When I first used the linear park (when the OBahn was built) I used to ring a bell but always seemed to spook the peds and they either turned around into my path or jumped across the wrong side!

So, I stopped ringing my bell and then started getting abused for not ringing it.

I'm back to ringing but from way back with a loud bell and it seems to work well most of the time. I also think both regular cyclists and peds seem to know what to expect from each other now.

As for earbuds or over ear headphones, if anyone invents a device to send a high pitched squeal through "devices" I'll be the first to sign up.

As I said back on page 1, there's a bit of an art to bell ringing - you need to be far enough back to not spook them, but not so far that they don't hear. Your "ringing but from way back" sounds about right.


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