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since 4/10/2009
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A few thoughts on a current hot-button topic are HERE.

Thanks for reading.
I've heard the rule stated something to the effect of the person downhill of you has the ROW, which covers the fact that the faster rider bears the responsibility for executing a safe pass (assuming slower rider also going downhill) as well as the fact that the climbing rider has the right of way.

I agree wholeheartedly that this is a problem. Thankfully, it's not a problem for the vast majority. But for the ones that do have a problem with it, it's a major problem.
 

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We have enough users on our metro area trail clusters that we have been one way for 20 plus years. Only way it works here. No problems this way.


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Wanna ride bikes?
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100% agree. Good topic.
 

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WillWorkForTrail
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Yes. I first encountered this thinking in the early days of Strava when someone literally yelled strava at me as they were descending a trail that a lot of folks complain about climbing, but in my opinion, the "full loop" of the system (no specified direction any day) works best if you climb this trail because the other trail gives you a longer flowier descent. So I saw them, then heard them, then grabbed two fists full of handlebar and stood up on my single speed and sprinted at them, right up the middle of the trail as they were approaching the steepest part of the trail and sideslope on the hill. Both of those noobs tried to get out of my way on the downhill side, only the first one put his foot down uphill, and the second one....downhill. Last I saw he was arse over teakettle rolling through the woods with this bike....
 

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Part of the problem is that new riders may have never heard of this rule or even IMBA. I don't remember seeing this rule posted at my local trail head signs. In some cases not following trail etiquette may be willful intent but I bet a majority of it is ignorance. There's tons of discussions online where people ask who has the right of way, and then people debate the merits of each position often without realizing there's an established protocol from IMBA.
 

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Part of the problem is that new riders may have never heard of this rule or even IMBA. I don't remember seeing this rule posted at my local trail head signs. In some cases not following trail etiquette may be willful intent but I bet a majority of it is ignorance. There's tons of discussions online where people ask who has the right of way, and then people debate the merits of each position often without realizing there's an established protocol from IMBA.
It really predates IMBA, if you want to get into it. NORBA put out the first rules. But neither of those are enforceable, because they're really just "best practices" for riders. What's enforceable, however, are rules adopted by land managers. Sure, they'll often adopt those rules verbatim, but not always.

IMO, the resurgence in ROW arguments seems to stem from the fact that some bike parks with downhill-only or downhill-priority trails have customized trail rules for their own uses, and certain morons think they can apply those everywhere else. Some of them might be noobs who simply started riding at bike parks, but others are definitely not.

Some land managers are better than others about posting trail rules. the USFS has a laundry list of rules for various users, so the mtb rules can be easily overlooked when they put ALL THE RULES on a single kiosk or their website. In my area, there are dozens of "trailheads" in our local USFS system. It's rather impractical for the USFS to put up kiosks with all the forest rules at every single one of them. They have a handful up at major trailheads, though.

Some land managers don't budget for any signage whatsoever, true. But IME, that's an increasingly small number of land managers.

A fair number of land managers simply fall back on the old ROW triangle that addresses multiuse trails. Simple and graphical, it conveys concepts needed for multiuse trails, true. Unfortunately, a number of land managers don't bother to address within-group issues like this one, though. And I think that's probably what jeremy has seen. It doesn't help that the places that are exceptions to the "best practices" rules posted by IMBA tend to be the ones that display them most prominently.
 

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Totally trail/location specific. At the Kingdom Trail system, the policy is broadly the opposite - uphill riders should yield. Also, some trails are "de-facto" or explicit downhill direction, but some people inevitably choose to ride up them anyway.

But yes, the generally accepted "yield to the climbing rider" is certainly not something that many new mountain bikers know about and remains the predominant etiquette rule in place.
 

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Makes more sense to me that uphill riders would "yield". They have more maneuverability and it's easier for them to stop. Just speaking for myself, if I had to temporarily take a different line or put a foot down when climbing, it would impact my enjoyment very little. But if I had to come to a stop from a full descent speed, that would just suck, considering that the decent only lasts a short time and I had put so much time into climbing to get there.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Makes more sense to me that uphill riders would "yield". They have more maneuverability and it's easier for them to stop. Just speaking for myself, if I had to temporarily take a different line or put a foot down when climbing, it would impact my enjoyment very little. But if I had to come to a stop from a full descent speed, that would just suck, considering that the decent only lasts a short time and I had put so much time into climbing to get there.
Wrong. When the absolute biggest rule for mountain bikers is that they should control their speed, the onus is directly on the faster rider.

The faster rider is the one who is responsible for executing a safe pass. The mountain biker is responsible for safe encounters with hikers and horses. It's no different when encountering another rider going slower or going the other direction. If you're riding too fast to be able to safely handle an encounter with someone else on two-way multi-use trails, then YOU are riding too fast and you are out of control.

Things change when trail rules change. If your trails are specifically labeled as directional, or mtb priority, or downhill priority, or whatever, then the rules change. But for standard two-way multi-use trails, this is how it works whether you like it or not.

You do NOT have to come to a full stop when you encounter riders coming the other direction. You usually do with horses, though (unless the rider tells you otherwise). What you DO have to do is slow down enough that both riders can pass each other safely. MAYBE you'll have to stop, but that depends on what's safe. Minimally, all you need to do is slow down. If the climbing rider chooses to step to the side, that's fine. But you should STILL slow down when you pass them out of respect for them. Space can often be at a premium, and the faster the closing/passing speed, the more space is needed for them to feel comfortable. So the less space there is, the slower you should be passing them, whether they step aside or not.

Enjoyment has no part of it. It's SAFETY.
 

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Well I have to say, after reading all that, I am far more in favor of the uphill rider yielding than I was before.
 

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I might be contributing to the problem but I just default to yielding (ascending or descending) if there is a safe spot to do so. Avoids conflicts and potentially having to educate people that don't care. The worst thing that happens is I get into a Canadian standoff with the other trail user/s every once in a while.
 

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I get into a Canadian standoff with the other trail user/s every once in a while.
This is the overwhelming majority of my trail interactions with bikers and hikers alike. A trend I notice is the busier a place is the less patience people have. All the more reason to keep outdoor and recreation spots as plentiful as possible.

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This is dangerously 'me-centric'.

How dare 'your' flow be interrupted. It's obviously more important than everyone elses.
FIFY

I would MUCH rather have to stop while going downhill than to be run off the trail in a difficult spot while climbing.

Sure, when I'm climbing I might have more time to react to a downhill rider (MIGHT...this isn't always the case) and choose a safer spot for the interaction to occur, but that does not change the fact that the faster, downhill rider has the RESPONSIBILITY to ride in control and to be able to adjust to others using the same trail. And this is owing to physics, and nothing else, because with increased speed, that downhill rider has the potential to cause far more damage to others.
 

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FIFY

I would MUCH rather have to stop while going downhill than to be run off the trail in a difficult spot while climbing.

Sure, when I'm climbing I might have more time to react to a downhill rider (MIGHT...this isn't always the case) and choose a safer spot for the interaction to occur, but that does not change the fact that the faster, downhill rider has the RESPONSIBILITY to ride in control and to be able to adjust to others using the same trail. And this is owing to physics, and nothing else, because with increased speed, that downhill rider has the potential to cause far more damage to others.
I can't argue with that fix Harold.

I personally can climb like a goat, and descend like I'm getting chased, and yet, I have NEVER had the asshat view that my fun is paramount to the other users on the trail. I don't want to get into a segue of drawing parallels as to the types of riders and their questionable skill level (which generally goes to the contrary of their purported self worth), but I've been riding so long that I can make some fairly safe assumptions.
 
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