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Urban Compass Calgary

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The unwritten rules of using Calgary's riverside pathways

Except we've written them down for you to make things easier

Be courteous, keep to the right, and leave your snakes at home.

Metro File

Be courteous, keep to the right, and leave your snakes at home.

Calgary’s riverside pathways are some of our most lively public spaces.

But with the sheer volume of people out there we need common guidelines to keep things reasonably safe and enjoyable.

The brainchild of former mayor Jack Leslie, the multi-use pathway system throbs with people downtown—particularly around lunchtime, and on summer weekends.

This level of activity is good. It’s what you want in a city. But everyone seems to have a different understanding of what constitutes acceptable pathway behaviour.

On a recent day, I witnessed a guy on in-line skates stickhandling a ball at high speed, a teenager popping a wheelie at a busy pathway intersection, someone cruising on a Segway and clumps of runners everywhere.

Everyone seems to have their own riff on the “multi-use” aspect of the pathway system. This is part of what makes them so appealing.

But without some common guidelines, it can get a little ugly out there.

With that in mind, here’s a refresher. Some of these are city rules and some are my own suggestions (can you tell which are which?):

1.     Slow down. A busy path is not a speedway. If you’re on two wheels, don’t be a pathlete playing Tour de France. Ease up by others. This includes dogs, toddlers, seniors and everyone in between. Kids are unpredictable and it’s up to you to avoid hitting them. Cruise, don’t careen.

2.     Stay right. That yellow line down the middle of the asphalt? It’s not decorative. You’re supposed to be on the right side of it, not the left. Stay in your lane so others can pass and traffic can flow smoothly.

3.     Use the correct path. In some places, the pathway is twinned. This, too, is not an aesthetic feature. If you’re on foot, use the pedestrian path. If you’re on wheels, take the bike one. They’re separated for a reason.

4.     Keep your dog close. Retractable leashes and pathways don’t mix. They’re a disaster waiting to happen. At worst they cause crashes. At best they get in the way. Protect your pooch with a short leash (max two metres, say city bylaws).

5.     If you’re a shirtless guy with a snake, don’t even. No one is impressed. Sorry. Go home.

6.     Ring your bell before passing. It shows respect while keeping everyone safe. Plus, it’s satisfying. A fine bell adds a musical touch to all the commotion.

7.     Be alert. When you’re oblivious to what’s happening around you, it’s annoying for others. Turn down your earbuds so you can hear bike bells. Look up from your phone. Step off the path before focusing intently on catching Pokemon.

8.     Be patient with each other. People (and animals) will inevitably get in your way, or go too slow for your liking, or otherwise annoy you. Roll with it. It’s a shared pathway, after all.

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