Apr 10, 2024 - Things to Do

When to say "on your left" and other trail etiquette

A trail with a biker

Be extra careful at busy intersections, like 16th Street and the Monon Trail. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Spring has finally sprung and warmer weather is drawing more Indianapolis residents out to enjoy the city's multiuse trails.

Why it matters: When the Monon Trail, Indianapolis Cultural Trail and other popular paths fill up, proper trail etiquette is key.

What's happening: We asked several area experts for best practices to stay safe and share the trail with users of all kinds.

Here are some tips:

🧭 Be aware of your speed and surroundings.

  • In general, slower trail users should stay to the right and faster users should pass on the left.
  • This varies on the Cultural Trail, which has a divided trail in some sections with marked stone paths for walkers/slower trail users and hexagon pavers for cyclists.

πŸ‘ˆ Yes, it is courteous to say "on your left" when passing a slower trail user.

  • "No matter which mode of transportation, that's just a general courtesy," said KΓ€ren Haley, executive director of the Cultural Trail. "It helps with safety, as well, so they don't accidentally step out in front of you."
  • Even if you don't need the other user to move over, saying "hello" or dinging a bike bell to let folks know you're near is considered best practice.

πŸ‘Ÿ Don't spread out over the whole trail when with a group.

  • Leave room for passing and folks traveling in the other direction.
  • Andrew Scott, president of Indy Runners, said he always emphasizes this with big training group runs, "so we're not playing some large game of Red Rover, where people have to break through."

🌱 Step off the trail when taking a break, when possible.

🚲 Cyclists should yield to pedestrians.

🎧 Don't tune out, or turn up the volume on your headphones so loud that you can't hear what's happening around you.

  • Scott said many runners like to turn up the music and zone out, but he encourages them to keep an ear open to their surroundings or use headphone settings that allow in ambient noise.

πŸ•β€πŸ¦Ί Keep pets on leash and controlled when other trail users are nearby.

  • Don't forget to clean up after them!

πŸ—‘οΈ Don't litter.

πŸ‘€ Look both ways when crossing streets, obey all signs and give vehicles extra time and room to stop and see you.

  • "Playing by the rules of the road are just as important for trail users," Haley said.

🚫 Respect private property.

🐰 Do not disturb animals or vegetation.

πŸŒ… If busy trails aren't your jam, try off-peak times like early mornings or weekday afternoons if possible β€” and as far as your own comfort and safety allow.

🎽 Make sure you are visible, especially if using trails in the morning or evening.

  • Scott recommends headlamps and high-visibility clothing.
  • Cyclists should always be equipped with a front white light and a rear red lamp or rear red reflector.
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