DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am fortunate to live near numerous public parks. These parks have two parallel lanes: one for bikes/rollerblades and another for foot traffic. The rules for which lane to use are well-known and well-posted.
Sometimes I encounter foot traffic in the bike lane. This is both an annoyance and a safety concern, as I may need to go over a barrier or onto the grass to avoid a collision. It doesn’t really bother me if people walk along the edge or briefly drift onto the bike lane to avoid obstacles, but those that walk down the middle of the bike lane drive me nuts.
I have taken to saying “You’re in the bike lane” as I zip past. This alerts them and allows them to correct their position if it was inadvertently chosen.
But honestly, my comment is intended -- and received -- as a scold, and sometimes embarrasses them, as others hear it. It’s also strictly true, so there’s that. I never look back after passing, as I don’t want to further escalate nor encourage them to shout a retort.
Will Miss Manners allow this? Or how else can I respond?
GENTLE READER: There was never a high probability that Miss Manners was going to approve your yelling at pedestrians after you nearly ran them down.
This is not to say that your problem is insoluble, merely that it requires a different approach. Stick to the bike lane. Ring your bell, and if you want to take the time to instruct, stop in front of the pedestrian and dismount with a look of surprise and concern -- as if you only just avoided a life-threatening collision.
“I’m so glad I saw you in time. This is the bike lane. Are you OK?” This will embarrass them without leaving them yelling at you. And it will avoid your being rude in the event that the pedestrian’s crime was not premeditated.