Safety can be simple

Before I get started, let me offer a mea culpa.

I didn’t look at a clock before I hopped on my bike and headed out for my daily trek on the Bow River Pathway.

I’m typically in the heart of downtown, along Memorial Drive, in less than 20 minutes.

And today, that was right in the middle of lunch hour.

It meant I was left dodging pedestrians enjoying a mid-day stroll just to get out of the office and into the sunshine.

That’s cool. No one loves a solid dose of Vitamin D more than this girl.

But more than a few times, I felt I had to advise some good folks walking on the bike path that they’d be better off — and safer — on the pedestrian path.

They always give me that look like “what’s the big deal?”

It’s simple. The city has split the path on the north side of the Bow River to keep traffic flowing and to make it safe for all parties.

And really, you can imagine the shit storm that would happen if a cyclist rode on the pedestrian path. Am I right? Yeah, you know it.

Now let’s go over the City of Calgary bylaws relating to parks and pathways:

  • The speed limit along pathways is 20 km per hour, unless otherwise posted
  • Respect the rights of others (probably a suggestion more than a bylaw … who wrote this?)
  • Stay to the right side of the pathway except when passing
  • When on a bicycle, use a bell, whistle or horn when passing others
  • Yield to the right of way
  • Everyone, including walkers and joggers, must be visible to other pathway users

I keep RunKeeper on my phone so I know my speeds.

I ring my bell. And I get glared at by people who refuse to yield.

(Yes, I realize not every cyclist uses the bell. Did you know it’s an $80 fine to not have a bell on your bike? At least that’s what the guy at SportChek told me when I bought my bike.)

I even have to ring my bell to alert people walking toward me. They’re either looking at their feet, their phones or the hot ass that just went that way.

I come across families biking four across the pathway around blind corners.

I’ve almost hit skateboarders who maybe think staying to the right is uncool.

And then there are the dog walkers. Oh, the mighty dog walkers.

Here are your rules:

  • All dogs must be on a leash no more than two metres long
  • All dogs must be on a leash unless in a designated, signed off-leash area
  • You cannot cycle or in-line skate on a pathway with a leashed dog
  • All dogs must be under their owner’s control in an off-leash area

You know I have a dog. You know how much I love my dog.

His leash is 18 inches long and it’s always in use on the paved pathways. I loathe those retractable leashes that let people think they’re doing the right thing by letting Fido roam two, three or up to five metres away.

Why? Because I love my dog. Because if he was off leash or on a long enough leash that he strayed, I risk putting him in the path of a cyclist.

And that kind of collision wouldn’t be good for him. Or for the cyclist.

Or for me.

When I’m on my bike, I don’t want to be responsible for crashing into Fluffy or Fido.

Or your kid.

Or even you.

I try to be as safe as possible when I’m on the path.

It’s about safety.

And it’s about awareness. We can all stand to get out of each other’s way.

Most of all, we have to get out of our own way and start paying attention to the world around us.

But that’s a bigger problem than just sharing the pathways, isn’t it?


  1. Did you miss the bit about keeping ones dog on leash on a paved pathway even in an off-leash area, or did I just dream that?

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