In this occsional column What Would Another Mother Runner Do (WWARMD) we tackle a problem that Kari posted on one of the private Challenge pages. Although the main issue of runners vs. cyclists is a perennial one, especially when trails are involved, the more problematic aspect is the manners—or lack thereof.
We'll let Kari take it from here.
"So there's a popular local running/walking/biking trail in town that I run on almost exclusivelyi. It's paved and wide, well-maintained and fairly scenic, and runs along a lake,, through downtown, a by a river. I don't carry any type of self-protection when I run on; if it's early and I am alone, I take my dog with me. If it's later in the morning, I just go. I often times run with my BRF as well and thus feel like there is safety in numbers but I am beginning to wonder if I need to start carrying something like mace. That said, I do always carry my phone.
This morning my BRF and I were out enjoying about 15 minutes of overlapping runs with one another when we had yet another encounter with THE BIKER. He is an older man—NOT a gentleman!—in his mid to early 60's who cycles along the trail. We've now encountered him at least 5-6 times in the past 2 months.
It's not posted anywhere that I have noticed, but about 90% of the users of this trail, including ourselves, follow the rules of the road... walk/run/bike on the right and pass on the left. THE BIKER always comes up behind us when we are running side-by-side (chatting!), taking up about about 3-4 feet of the trail on the far right side. Our posiiton leaves at least 10 feet of passing room on our left. Even so, starts laying on his bike bell and yelling at us to "share the trails" and then flips us off behind his back as he passes. Every single time.
When he passes us, even though there is plenty of space, he always just barely brushes by me on my left side, like if I stuck my arm out he would hit it, The first few times it happened we were speechless. Now I'm just pissed. I've been out running alone before and he'll just pass on the left without using his bell or any rude gestures; it's only when the two of us are running together that we have had issues with him.
We get passed all the time by other cyclists without any trouble whatsoever, some might call out "on your left" and then pass by leaving plenty of space between us. I like it when cyclists say something, so they don't sneak up on me. He doesn't say anything; just rings his bell.
The last two times we have encountered THE BIKER I haven't been able to keep my mouth shut and have yelled profanities back at him. This morning I heard him coming (his bell!) so I turned around and faced him, yelled at him that he had plenty of room to pass on the left and to get over himself. He flipped us off and kept going. I watched him go on to pass an older couple who were walking ahead of us without any use of his bell or middle finger. I swear he's doing it just to bully us—two young women—and it boils my blood!
After my BRF left me when she finished her run and I set out for the rest of mine—another 30 minutes—I realized I felt suddenly vulnerable. Even though it was mid-morning and the trail is fairly well used. Still. It irks me to know that this guy is getting under my skin and making me consider taking my runs elsewhere."
Sarah says: Kari, my blood is boiling right along with you! First and foremost: Do.Not.Take.Your.Runs.
Although it's mighty tempting, and I would have done the same thing as you have done, don't sink to his level. Let him pass without acknowledging him or his rudeness. However, the next time he flips you off as he passes, I would take a photo of him because if he ever escalates his harassment (which I highly doubt he will), you want proof of his gross gestures toward you. I don't think he's a risk of intentionally harming you, but if his behavior gets more belligerent, contact the police.
Dimity says: I agree with my sister from another mother runner. He is a bully, and bullies want attention and validation. Don't give him either. Photograph him, though, just in case.
If you want to lighten up the situation a little bit, I'd start a tally of how many times he passes you. Once you get to, say, 10, you and Michelle get to treat yourselves to a post-run pastry and latte—and cheers to never treating anybody that way.