DEAR ABBY: "On Foot in Orlando" (Nov. 23) wrote about being nearly run down by bicycles going too fast, especially when they don't warn that they're approaching. When I'm on my bike, I always slow down and call out "On your left!" to warn the walker that I'm passing.
On the other hand, while I'm riding, I frequently encounter walkers three or four abreast, or pedestrians walking dead center or meandering zigzag down a path. In those cases, I ring my bell, say, "On your left," and slow almost to a complete stop -- only to be totally ignored, leaving me with no alternative but to ride on the grass. Sometimes the three-abreast walkers are coming straight at me and clearly see me, but still won't move over and give me enough space to pass them (something that also happens when I'm walking).
The obvious solution is for walkers and riders to be considerate of one another, recognizing that we share a common road through life. -- CELIA IN MISSOULA, MONT.
DEAR CELIA: I agree with you on that. Good manners can smooth many potentially abrasive situations. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Where I live, there are no bike lanes separate from the walking lanes on the shared path. We are allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks, except on Main Street. I only wish bikers here had bicycle bells, but they don't seem to have ever heard of them, nor do they say "coming through" or "on your left" -- they just come whizzing by. I'm hoping some of them will read this and take pity on walkers. -- WALKER AND BIKER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR ABBY: I am neither a biker nor a walker on a path. A cyclist ringing his bell signaling me to move would do no good, so I guess I'd be one of those ending up with "great bodily harm," as you put it. You see, I'm hard-of-hearing and could not hear that dinging bell behind me.
What if the person ahead of you is deaf? People can't see deafness as a handicap the way they can if somebody has a cane, etc. And, yes, I do wear hearing aids, in case some of your readers are thinking, "Get a hearing aid." Hearing aids help, but they are not a cure-all. (And many elderly people don't hear well either.)
So, bikers, do not totally rely on your bell to signal people to move. If there are pedestrians where you're riding, I urge you to use caution in case somebody might have a hearing impairment. -- HARD-OF-HEARING IN WEST TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: When bicyclists, roller-bladers, joggers, walkers and tricycle riders all share the same path, the general rule is that the slowest person keeps to the right. This allows the roller-bladers and cyclists to pass without causing alarm. Conflict usually arises when a group of people is walking together, taking up most of the walkway and making it impossible for others to pass, or when someone is wearing headphones and is oblivious to other users.
Unfortunately, when people don't observe basic courtesies on shared pathways, everyone becomes frustrated. -- ANN IN BRANFORD, CONN.
DEAR READERS: That's right. Obviously, the rule should be to use caution on shared pathways, whether you are walking or riding -- and instead of taking for granted that you have the right of way, show consideration for others and practice good manners.