Cyclist roller ski conflict

24 Sep

I have a body that could make me a decent cyclist. But I’ve never done any amateur races. Probably because I don’t relate to the cyclist mindset. I don’t know why, it’s just like that.

Today was my day to get on their bad side. I went for a trip early this morning and got ding-ding-dinged and yelled at by a dwarfish cyclist while I climbed a hill. She said “this isn’t a slalom hill”. Skate skiing requires a lot of lateral space, especially when climbing. This makes me an obstacle to cyclists. But if I reduce my side by side movement for long I lose all my momentum which is no good for me. I generally compromise and transition into tighter steps until the cyclist passes. But the ones that don’t have a bell I don’t hear.

This afternoon I got another scolding. Skate roller skis give you the same lateral agility for flitting around obstacles as roller skates. Since Oslo trails are full of hazards, I don’t always go in a straight line. A cyclist I didn’t initially hear behind me yelled “when you swerve like that I can’t tell where you’re going”.

In both cases, this morning and this afternoon, the messages were in Norwegian. On the plus side I understood, which is encouraging from a language learning standpoint.

But from a training on the same trails as cyclists standpoint, I’m a bit less satisfied. I’m not sure what the solution is.

Searching around for ideas I found an interesting study about conflict minimisation on shared paths. The conclusions follow here:

Nature of conflict on shared paths

Cyclists contribute to conflict on shared paths through:

  • individual riders passing too close at relatively high speed – a function of a basic desire to maintain speed either in training, recreation or commuting
  • similar action by groups (at the extreme, a peleton)
  • failure to warn pedestrians of their approach or intention to pass
  • excessive speed in inappropriate situations (e.g. sharp curve, narrow path).

Pedestrians contribute to the conflict through:

  • individuals failing to keep to the right and to maintain a predictable path
  • groups occupying the width of the path
  • children not being adequately supervised
  • use of other vehicles and toy vehicles (powered scooters, roller blades, roller skis)
  • dogs not being kept under control

All of the points above are relevant to my experience on shared paths. And the overall conclusion about shared responsibility is well taken. I need to be a bit more careful about maintaining a predictable path. Difficult, though, when avoiding potentially crash inducing obstacles. Cyclists likewise need to avoid risky behaviours. As in most cases “the middle road is best”. Except maybe when someone on a bike wants to pass me :-).

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