Grasshopper Soup: The Ying and Yang of bike trails |

Grasshopper Soup: The Ying and Yang of bike trails

By Bob Sweigert

Just when you thought you knew your left from your right, port from starboard, right from wrong, and how to set a dining room table, you find yourself walking on the right (which is the wrong) side of the bike trail.

The reason people are so at odds politically is because they never learned how to tell their left hand from their right hand. Bike trails are a perfect example of political flip flopping.

It doesn’t matter if you are left or right politically, or anywhere in between, libertarian or green, if you are a pedestrian on a bike trail you are probably on the wrong side. Chances are pretty good that you won’t get run off the road by the opposing party, but you might want to rethink your entire political position. On a bike trail, your political opponent could be coming up directly behind you traveling at about 15 miles an hour. If you are in an area where you can not step off the bike trail because of a cliff, a building or whatever, and the bike trail is crowded and you and your friend are deeply involved in a political filibuster, you are going to want to have eyes in the back of your head. Unless you are walking on the left (I mean the right) side of the bike trail, someone may end up having to call an ambulance for you. If you are on a blind curve that turns to your left though, you may want to walk on the right side (I mean the wrong side) so you can see better in both directions. But don’t forget you’re on the right (wrong) side.

The trail you are on began as a bike trail. Bikes travel on the right side of the bike trail, like cars. If you are walking on the right side of the bike trail (I mean the wrong side) and you are on a blind curve that curves to the right, you, and the bicycle coming up behind you, have no idea what is coming the other way, even if you have eyes in the front of your head. And, if you are walking two or three people side by side, taking up the entire right (I mean the wrong) side of the bike trail, strolling along just a whistling Dixie, someone may soon be calling an ambulance for all three of you. At the very best, your filibuster will end abruptly and you can expect to be held in very low esteem by the cyclist.

Bike trail maintenance crews have stenciled “Walk Left/Ride Right” on bike trails for decades now, but I think they gave up. It gets pretty expensive to repaint them. Few people ever reads signs, and left and right seem to be a matter of opinion.

Yes, pedestrians on bike trails are supposed to walk on the wrong side of the trail, which would be the left. Why? Never mind, it makes too much sense.

The concept of Walk Left/Ride Right may seem like bad politics to some, and as confusing and as mind boggling as a house of mirrors. But it’s good to know exactly where the door into Alice’s Wonderland is taking you.

Put your hands in front of you, palms facing away, with your fingers together pointing up and thumbs horizontal. Your left hand should look like an “L”. The hand with the backwards “L” is the right hand. This is the first rule of thumb for walking on a bike trail and who to vote for. Check your thumb position. Walk on the right side, which is the left side. Vote either way, as it doesn’t matter.

I hope that clears up the issue. Please assist those on the bike trail who are dyslexic and those who think right is right and left is always smart.

Keep an eye out for people walking unawares on the wrong side (I mean the right side) of the bike trail. Give them a polite warning, and hope they don’t vote in the next election.

And please don’t ask me to explain Ying and Yang. It’s all the same to me.

It’s Bike to Work Week. Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.

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