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The Dos and Don’ts of Riding Your Bike on the Burke-Gilman Trail

Local cycling experts share their rules of the road for newbie riders hitting the trail.

By Megan Toal March 21, 2018

Burke-Gilman-by-Alex-Crook-1

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the April 2018 issueClick here to subscribe.

With three bike-sharing companies now in the city, it’s no surprise that riders new to cycling are showing up on the popular Burke-Gilman Trail (as well as others). With “sharing” being the key word here, we asked local cycling experts Geoff Swarts of Seattle International Randonneurs and Charlie Hockett of the Cascade Bicycle Club for a few tips to help newbie riders integrate seamlessly into the trail traffic along the city’s premier walking, running and cycling corridor. 

1. Do wear a helmet. It’s the smart thing to do to prevent head injuries, and it’s also the law in Seattle and King County.

2. Slow down in heavily trafficked areas and don’t exceed posted trail speed limits.

3. Be aware of other people on the trail—whether walkers, runners or other cyclists—and recognize they have a right to the trail. “They’re not going to behave and respond the way you think they might,” says Swarts. 

4. Ride predictably, in a straight line, when possible. Wavering makes it difficult for others to pass safely. 

5. Signal your intentions. The biggest newbie error, says Hockett, is unpredictability—which includes failing to signal turns or stops. Use hand signals or your voice to let others on the trail know what you’re doing. Use a bell or your voice to let pedestrians or other cyclists know that you’re passing. 

6. Be mindful of yield signs and always stop at trail crossings. There are a lot of these on the Burke-Gilman where the trail crosses roads. 

7. Just like in another kind of moving vehicle, pull over to a safe place before making or taking a call, texting or otherwise using your smartphone. 

 

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