Rules of the road vs local custom

While vacationing in Colorado earlier this month I biked through Garden of the Gods, a magnificent public park in the city of Colorado Springs where I encountered this combined pedestrian / bicycle lanes on the right side of a one-way road.

Juniper Loop Road Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs CO

The arrow suggests, to me, the direction of travel, and that’s the way I went. As I pushed my way uphill on my road bike I spotted an obstruction ahead of me in the lane, merged left into the regular travel lane to avoid it, and that’s when the obstruction (a guy on a high-end full-suspension mountain bike coming towards me in the lane) snarkily instructed me to “Pass on the right, Dude.”

Up to this point I really didn’t care that I moved left to avoid him. I can’t control what other people do. There was plenty of room and we were passing without incident, but this scofflaw was clearly annoyed that I didn’t follow what he thought of as the “rules,” so of course he deserved a response: “Wrong way, Dude,” I replied.

So he says “Two-way trail, Dude.”

Good grief. He’s probably out of ear-shot by now, but I depart with, “Trail rules: Downhill yields to uphill, Dude.”

I know there was a large-ish group of perhaps 20 cyclists about a few minutes behind me riding two to three across in this lane — did this group ride squeeze right to get past the wrong-way mountain biker who couldn’t handle going the correct direction on this loop road?

But that left me wondering: Is there a local custom of treating this clearly-marked one-way lane as a two-way trail? And if this is the case, how are out-of-towner dudes like me supposed to know of this local custom?


  1. Local custom or local morons? Here we have a lovely six mile trail circling a city park, paved only a couple of years ago, with a parallel pedestrian trail and lots of signs clearly marking which is which. Joggers and walkers routinely use the bike trail, despite the signs. Last year I nearly killed a woman who had decided the bike trail was the perfect place to lie down and stretch.

    Bottom line: people are dumb, and will do dumb things, no matter what the signs say.

  2. Jason, I agree with you. When I’m riding in the local parks I see far too many people who’ll just stop and start working out in the middle of the sidewalk. Even though there is more than enough room in the grass. I’ve also have seen far too many cyclists flying through the parks at full speed like they’re running their own personal Tour de France or something. So sadly, there is enough blame to go all the way around.

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