PEDAL PUSHERS: Be a polite cyclist when riding on a shared path

What’s an MUP?

Something you wear on your ears? No. A massively uber Porsche? Yes, but no. Here at Pedal Pushers, MUP stands for multi-use path. Multi-use paths allow people to walk, run, skip, wheelchair, scoot, skateboard, cartwheel and bike along them to enjoy the great outdoors without competing for space with cars and trucks. After all, who wants to cartwheel along Marine Drive?

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The Green Necklace in the City of North Vancouver is a great local example of an MUP. So is the Spirit Trail, an MUP planned to span the entire North Shore from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay. They are a fabulous community resource. We here at Pedal Pushers make extensive use of them for cycling, scootering, running and walking (we leave the cartwheeling to the younger set).

But we’ve noticed that some people on bikes need instruction in their proper use. 

An MUP is not a way for people on bikes to commute across town quickly. MUPs are not generally great transportation routes for people unwilling to slow down to walking speed and take it easy while sharing the path with slower moving path users (cartwheelers in particular). If you are willing to make allowances for others, just as you would move aside walking on a sidewalk when a baby buggy is hogging up all the room, then a relaxed ride on an MUP is a good choice.

MUP Rules 101

- Pass other path users moving in the same direction as you on the left if you can.

- Alert them to your presence in advance without scaring the pants off them, or making Rover go crazy.

- Slow down to a speed similar to that of a runner when passing.

- Give other users as wide a berth as you can. If you see cartwheelers, exuberant dogs or small children riding a bike up ahead, take extra care. They don’t always travel in a straight line.

- In some places MUPs are skinny and may have blind corners. A couple of routes we travel regularly cross driveways with poor visibility. These are areas where slowing down is a good idea.

MUP’s were simply not designed for people cycling at speed for transportation. But there are times when they can be useful if you avoid high-use times. The dog walking crowd is usually out in the early morning and then again in the early evening. Sundays and Saturdays on the Spirit Trail are busy all day until after 7 p.m. -- a testament to its amazing success.

Really, who are those people in spandex riding in packs along the Spirit Trail section behind Park Royal on the weekend? Then again, there is often no good alternate route for those on training rides or just trying to get quickly from A to B on the North Shore. If you avoid high-use times, then cycling at a reasonable speed on an MUP is achievable so long as you remain aware of the potential for a dog on a retractable leash around that next corner.

Long story short, mixing fast moving cyclists with people walking, wheelchairing or cartwheeling is not a great idea. If you want to get somewhere quickly on a bike, or you are training for the GranFondo, an MUP is not where you want to be.

So the burning question then is where do you want to be? Separated bike lanes for transportation are a better choice. We know, we know – where are there any separated bike lanes on the North Shore? A subject for a future column. In the meantime, ride safely and don’t frighten or endanger others on the MUPs. Like Mom always said: “be polite, and watch out for cartwheelers!”

The North Shore Pedal Pushers are Heather Drugge and Antje Wahl. The guy who makes the column readable, Dan Campbell, prefers driving. See – we can all work together.

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