It’s that time of year again when the birds are chirping and the pollen is a yellow haze around our heads. As the weather warms up, more and more people take to the Atlanta BeltLine to jog, hike, and cycle their way through the city’s neighborhood gems. This is especially true on the Eastside Trail, where the 2-mile path serves no fewer than five neighborhoods and connects Piedmont Park to Historic Fourth Ward Park, Ponce City Market to Krog Street Market. Now is a good time to remind ourselves about etiquette on the trail, whether you’re a cyclist, a jogger, or a tourist soaking in the scenery.
Last spring, our Southern Etiquette campaign was met with a very positive reception, and we are gearing up for Round 2 with some new ways to get the message out. Last year, we took to the trails with some hand-held signs to chat with people about proper trail etiquette. We loved it when people stopped and snapped photos of our volunteers with their signs out, sharing them with the hashtag #beltlinecharm.
The etiquette campaign may seem light-hearted, but the message is a serious one. With 1.2 million visitors to the Eastside Trail last year, more and more people are trying to figure out how to navigate the new culture of a popular multi-use trail. We want you all to share the Atlanta BeltLine and enjoy your experience, so here is a reminder of the ground rules for etiquette:
- Slow down. While we can’t enforce a speed limit on the trails (there isn’t a legal way to do so), we can remind you that the Eastside Trail is not the place for riding at more than 10 miles per hour. Call out or ring your bell. If you do need to get around someone, ring your bell or call out “on your left” to pass. When you do, remember to use that southern charm and be polite. There’s room for everyone if we are working together.
- Stay to your right. Whether you’re a pedestrian or cyclist, you need to stay to the right unless you’re passing. If you’re on foot, listen for bike bells or call-outs and give the person room to pass. Walk two-abreast. If you have a big group, walk in rows of no more than two people. Walking in larger rows takes up space and clogs the corridor.
- Step off the trail to stop. We want you to see everything, take photos, share your experiences, enjoy the art – but please step off the trail to do so. Stopping in the middle of the trail can cause congestion or collisions.
- Be a responsible pet owner. Nothing is worse than enjoying a nice stroll on the trail and suddenly stepping in – well, you know. Pick up after your dog.
- Keep dogs and kids close. Dogs should be on six-foot leashes and kept close to your right. Please also be mindful of strollers – if you’re pushing one, stay to the right. If you encounter one, slow down. Do it for the children!
- Speaking of children… The trail is used by all sorts of people at different skill levels, including children learning to ride. Even some adults learn to shed their training wheels on the Atlanta BeltLine. This is a good thing for cycling in Atlanta! Embrace it, and give them their space to practice.
It also helps to use the trail during off-peak hours – you can expect weekends and weekday evenings to be especially crowded, particularly during nice weather. If you need to be somewhere quickly during these hours, plan accordingly so that you don’t have to break the sound barrier. Or, if you want to take your kids or pets out on a stroll, off-peak hours are good for that, too.
If everyone using the trail is mindful of the rules, the summer should be a pleasant one for everyone. It’s important to remember that the Atlanta BeltLine is changing the game in our city, presenting new connectivity and mobility for people in all walks of life and every demographic. And sometimes, the most effective way to be courteous is the simplest: by just saying hello to your fellow trail-users.