A Letter to Burke Gilman Trail Users

Dear good people on the Burke Gilman trail, I bring to you enlightenment and knowledge. I bring to you advice as only I can, for we have been on it together now for some weeks and I couldn’t help but notice you need guidance.

FOR THE PEDESTRIANS:

  • It is a lovely day, isn’t it? It is. It truly is. And Scrappy the wunderdog is a happy lil’ fellow, isn’t he? Yes. But could you please keep Scrappy on a leash under, say, 150 feet?  My brakes are fine but Scrappy can move faster than my brakes. And I don’t want to scrap Scrappy.
  • For that matter, I don’t want to scrap you. So when I call out, “on your left” when I’m 20 feet behind you, that means I’m going to pass you… on your left. Get it? Makes sense. This means you should not, you know, walk farther out to your left.
  • Or move to the left after your co-walker figured it out and moved right. S/he wasn’t asking to switch places, s/he was trying not to end up as so much muck on my wheels.
  • Little Jimmie and Janie love their playdates… in their strollers… staring blankly ahead but *right next* to each other. Awesome! Just please have them give up the convenience of their side-by-side solitaire while we use the trail next to you. In seven feet of trail width, your two strollers take up five feet, leaving two feet for me. That’s fine, but I’m big boned, and I’m nervous as a hooker in church on a bike. Just sayin’.

FOR THE AUTOMOBILES

  • Chances are if you’re one of the many cars we encounter, you are coming in to or going out of a driveway. The chances are good, then, that you live on the BG trail. Possibly it was a selling point when you purchased the house? You know, when you walked through with the spouse you looked at each other and talked about how you’d take little Jimmie and Janie out for walks, along with Scrappy. Great! That is just what the trail is for. It’s also for cyclists, though, and so when you park your car in the intersection of the trail, some of us have to brake rather suddenly. Doing this and unclipping ones shoes is not an easy feat, so please don’t give me the dirty look when I come inches from your door. Trust me, your door will do more damage to me than I will to it.
  • On those unfortunate bits where the trail is side by side with you in traffic — I know, right? Totally rude of them to do that — please do not stalk me. If you are driving your car at my speed, and not passing me, reminding me with every little rev that you have 2 tons of something that will render me into the svelte shape (although, not the same type of svelte shape) I’ve discussed wanting, you are stalking me. It’s not funny, and I’m calling you many rude names in three languages. Four, if I can remember to.
  • Also, please pass me. Please please pass me. When there is space to. Passing me such that I can tell you purchased the carbon-grey-metallic paint instead of regular grey-metallic paint, or passing me such that I can tell what Prada purse you have in the passenger’s seat (you may want to pick up that lost earring on your floormat) is a little too close for comfort. I think it’s cute that you also have a “Share the Road” sticker on your car.

FOR OTHER CYCLISTS:

That’s us: the crack elite team. They made the trail for us; aren’t you glad I told those pesky pedestrians and drivers off for you? Let me tell you though, you guys can be assholes too.

There, I said it.

What do you mean, what? Let me spell it out for you, bro:

  • When you pass me, please use “On Your Left”… or even “Left” or use your bike bell. But don’t scream it at me as you are ACTUALLY on my left. How about saying it a little ahead of time, so I’m not hearing it as I’m checking out your new Pearl Izumi thighwarmers? There is this thing called the “Doppler Effect“, and it is not a 1980’s new wave band.
  • If you don’t use the “On Your Left” or “Left” or bike bell, please do not have the gall to tsk-tsk me as you fly by. I get it: you go faster than I do. That is so awesome for you! But speed does not equal an asshole-ectomy.
  • That two by two rule that I ragged on the pedestrians about? Yeah? That goes for you too. I’m talking to you, the guy in the blue and orange two weeks back who saw me oncoming, pointed to me to his buddy, and then firmly and fastidiously stayed two by two — on the I90 bridge deck — with pedestrians and other cyclists. That was totally uncool, and those thighwarmers make you look fat.
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