The typical Houston fall weather tease is weeks past. It won’t be long before Terry Hershey Park trails are filled with hikers, cyclists and strolling families enjoying comfortable weather. And that makes it a good time to brush up on trail etiquette and safety.
When the trails are crowded, it’s easy to have a safe outing by taking a few precautions.
Watch that Retractable Leash
Man’s Best Friend is at the top of the potential danger list. In many parks nationwide, the No. 1 cause of falls involves dogs. Extendable, retractable leashes are one of the reasons. They are simply harder for oncoming cyclists to see, giving room for dogs to bolt out unexpectedly in front of an oncoming riders. Even standard 8-foot leashes can cause problems if they are stretched across the trail like a trip wire. Stay aware of other trail users and keep dogs under control.
Cyclists: Make Your Intentions Clear
Too often a walker gets in front of a passing cyclist. The danger to both pedestrian and cyclist alike can easily be avoided by calling out "keep right" or “on your left” or simply by ringing a bike bell prior to passing. Get in the habit and your ride will go smoother.
Playing loud audio through an earphone or headphone poses real dangers on the trails, according to accident stats. There’s just no way to hear a warning call or a ringing bell. If you must crank the tunes, then stay clear to the right side of the trail. Better yet, enjoy nature’s sounds for a safer workout.
Parking Lot Temptation
Crooks have been known to scope out fitness buffs getting out of their vehicles at parks. They know those people will be gone for a while. Thwart their nefarious plans by parking valuables out of sight. It seems obvious, but recent police checks of lots in public parks proves many people leave plenty of desirable, pawnable goodies in plain sight.
Yield to Pedestrians and Keep Trail Conditions in Mind
With the wind flying through your helmet, it’s easy to get caught up in the ride. Share some empathy for the walkers and joggers. Riding fast as you pass hikers or slower cyclists increases the likelihood of having a bad accident. If the trail is full of seniors and families, give them a break by slowing down and giving wide berth. One day you might be in their shoes.