Share the Trail

A biker, a man on roller blades and a runner on a trail

It pays to be nice on the trail! Follow these tips for sharing the trails within and between our parks.

  • Be predictable: Travel in a consistent and predictable manner. Always look behind before changing position on the trail.
  • Don’t block the trail: When in a group, avoid using more than half the trail. Switch to single file when approaching or passing other trail users.
  • Dog walkers: Keep dogs on a six-foot non-retractable leash and under your control.
  • Keep right: Stay to the right side of the trail, except when passing another user.
  • Passing another trail user: Faster traffic must yield to slower and oncoming traffic. Pass others on their left when moving in the same direction.
  • Give audible signals: Say "hello" when approaching others, especially if you encounter horseback riders on a turf trail. When passing, loudly say “PASSING ON YOUR LEFT.” A clear warning signal may be given by voice, bell or horn.
  • Leave no trace: Properly dispose of your trash, including pet waste.
  • Helmets: Bicyclists, skaters, skateboarders and horseback riders should always wear a properly fitted helmet.
  • Stop means stop: Obey all stop and yield signs along the trails.

A Campaign for Trail Safety

More than five million visitors a year use trails managed by Three Rivers Park District. Safety for all these bikers, runners, walkers, commuters and horseback riders is a top priority. Trails are a shared public space – safety and courtesy are necessary to create a positive experience for everyone. Three Rivers Park District encourages users to respect each other through a “Share the Trail” safety campaign.

“Sharing the Trail” is a simple concept. It means sharing the trail with multiple users, even if they use the trails differently than you do. The system works best when everyone respects one another’s use of the trails and follow the same general rules. Trail safety messages are placed around the trails in various locations, catching the attention of our users and creating teachable moments.

However, from time to time, trail users may find themselves in conflict with other users.

Bike Trails

The most common conflicts involve cyclists and pedestrians. They are moving at very different speeds and take up different spaces. Cyclists often don’t alert pedestrians when passing at high speeds, which can cause sudden and startled responses from those on foot. Sometimes groups of walkers can take up both lanes, which leaves cyclists nowhere to pass as they move through. Both users have a responsibility to share the trail.

Another common safety concern revolves around obeying traffic signs. Cyclists are sometimes required to stop at roadway crossings. There is often confusion between motorists and cyclists in regard to right of way. Overall, cyclists need to obey traffic signs in order to stay safe.

Horse Trails

Some of our turf trails allow horseback riding. A common conflict involves walkers or runners who may spook a horse. Horses cannot see directly in front of their face or directly behind their tail. Announcing your presence by saying “hello” or “on your left” and slowing your speed helps greatly.

Another conflict involves dogs. To ensure everyone’s safety, it’s important for dogs to be on six-foot, non-retractable leashes at all times. This is the Park District’s policy and it’s especially important when dogs are sharing the trail with horses.

Learn more about trail etiquette around horses.  

Partnership with Adam Turman

Three Rivers has partnered with local bicycle artist Adam Turman to develop a series of images to help communicate our trail safety efforts. These eye-catching messages can be seen on regional trail shoulders, trail kiosks and on bicycle wheel spoke cards.

Three Rivers staff and regional trail volunteers will be out on the trails spreading the “Share the Trail” message. As more trail users adopt this attitude, the trails will become even friendlier and safer places for everyone to enjoy.

Share the Trail