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Etiquette School


I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Today I want to write about what many of you reading this might recognize, but others seem not to, and that is proper etiquette on our pedestrian walking/bike paths throughout the city. Unfortunately, many Chicagoans still do not understand the proper way to act while on the paths, which has lead to many injuries and angry pedestrians; this needs to stop.


For those of you who don't know how to behave on walking/bike paths, act as if you are on a street.  A two-lane walking/bike path means that you'd walk/ride in the right lane, and only enter in the left lane if you are passing someone on the left; for cyclists, bells may be dorky, but are a good idea.  Here's a good article on the subject, with some contentious comments at the bottom.  Slow traffic, including walkers and slow cyclists, stay to the right to allow faster traffic to pass.  Rollerbladers cannot use long flowing strides and take up the entire lane on a busy afternoon.  Just like we share the road on the street, we need to do the same on all of our pedestrian paths.

The lakefront path has a slightly different story.  On that path, there is a ton of room on either side of the "official" path, which is a great place for the slower traffic to gather.  Therefore, if you want to go for a leisurely walk with your gal-pals, then you can walk side-by-side and not cause a traffic jam behind you, or have to worry about a daring cyclist trying to slalom his way in-between.

I write this not as a rant, but because I am sick of my friends being injured, just as I'm sick of watching innocent pedestrians get run over.  I've seen broken collar bones, broken hips, broken everything, as well as every scrape and scratch imaginable, and it needs to stop.  I knew it had gotten really bad when personal injury law firms, especially those claiming to be "bicycle and pedestrian personal injury" lawyers, started to pass out flyers on the lakefront trail this year.  To be honest, I am not entirely sure what the proper solution is, probably more posted signs that say "slow traffic keep right," maybe more bike cops on the trail, but as we all continue to use the paths more frequently during the summer months, we need to learn how to use them the right way.



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