Ah, the MUP. Or for those not familiar, a bicycle highway with a playground in the middle. Or what happens when bicycles are thought of more as toys than as transportation. A prime example is the Texas version of the Katy Trail. In the regional transportation plan the KT is a major bicycle corridor between WRL and Downtown Dallas, eventually part of a system that will run from Plano to Downtown Dallas contiguously. The problem is somebody forgot to tell the joggers and dog walkers that. They think it’s their playground and the people riding the bikes should get the hell out. Such a dichotomy results in the recent fatality we had where a jogger did a U-turn directly into a cyclist that had been warning her that he was passing to her left, which she didn’t hear because she was using headphones and listening to loud music.
So, how to deal with MUP?
First and foremost, don’t hit the pedestrians! They don’t know that this was supposed to be a transportation corridor. They were told it was a recreational facility. As far as they are concerned it’s their playground and you’re trespassing with your vehicle.
Second, move slowly. You’re mixing with pedestrians and joggers, move at a jogging speed of 8-10 MPH. Yes I know that’s too slow, but you’re in their playground, they don’t know it was planned as your highway first.
Third, even though most of them are going to be semi-zombified by earbuds and headphones, loudly announce your intentions before passing. Think of this as your aerobic workout, as you repeatedly bellow out “Passing to your left!” 50 or 60 times per mile to people that couldn’t hear a gunshot 3 feet from their heads.
Fourth, be prepared for then to do stupid things like turn in front of you right as you pass them. Remember the headphones and earbuds from their portable music devices? They don’t have the slightest idea that you even exist in the same space-time continuum.
Fifth, a little offence can be beneficial. if you can’t dodge or warn them try to hit them in such a way that they fall on what they think with rather than their heads. Yes that’s a crude way of telling you to knock them on their keisters. Keisters are muscular and can withstand considerable impact, heads on the other hand are chock full of fragile bits and are not very well protected, and you can cause much more permanent damage if they fall on their noggins rather than their keisters. Recumbent bikes might be better for this than upwrongs as you have to make the majority of your momentum connect about waist high. Using the quick-turn in reverse and not correcting to bring the bike back under you will help at this and also get the bike and all its sharp edges away from the pedestrian. This takes a little planning and practice, you might actually be able to dodge better than knocking them on their keisters. Remember, it is only if it becomes obvious that a collision is unavoidable that you should try to arrange the collision so that they fall on their keisters rather than their heads.
Sixth, as a last resort you might have to sacrifice your own body to protect theirs. I’m not going to comment on the wisdom of hurting yourself to prevent hurting those who can’t be bothered to not get hurt on their own, but sometimes that’s what you have to do.
Lastly, carry a first-aid kit with blood-absorbing compresses, AKA Maxi-Pads. Yes, I’m telling you to get a major first-aid supply from the feminine-hygiene aisle of your local drugstore or supermarket. That’s where the Army gets theirs, and no I’m not kidding. Many of the injuries you are likely to see from a bike/ped wreck bleed like a stuck pig, and to minimize the HazMat cleanup you need something that sops all that up at the source. A full sized MaxiPad can hold up to a pint of blood without leakage. That’s something else I learned while I was in the Army.
And that’s all I have to say on this subject at this time.