A letter to the editor of this week's Messenger rag:

My nine-year-old son had a horrible, but completely unnecessary, fright on the bike track along the train line at Clarence Park. 

We were riding in the left lane.  I noticed two cyclists coming up behind us and we heard the bell to warn us.

Unfortunately, my son made a snap decision to start moving in into the right lane.

His front wheel was barely over the white line when this cyclist let out a bellow.  He had room to get through, as he just kept cycling.  Meanwhile, my son was left frightened to move forward.

This is not the first time that I have witnessed cyclists behaving as if public tracks are their own personal racetrack, and not at all bothered about swearing at others.  I hope this cyclist reads about his behaviour and the impact on my son"

Nicky Willoughby, Clarence Park

Everyone, please respect people on the pathways and slow down around dogs and children.  These children are the next generation of bike riders.  Cyclists get enough of a bum wrap without being dickheads like this.  To the 95% of us that are good about it, do as I do and lend some encouraging words.  It will brighten their day.

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It's awful to hear of a cyclist acting in this way, especially towards a child on a shared use path! 

It's very important for all to keep in mind that not everyone has the same confidence and skill on the bike as you may do. Buzzing past others extremely close may cause them to crash. It may be ok to pass others close and fast in a race, but not everyone has the confidence. I know my mum who is trying to get back into cycling would be forced to stop or even crash if someone passes her closely or yells out at her. 

I always make an effort to give warning of my approach with my bell (From a distance at first so as not to startle people) then slow wayyy down. Even stop and walk if I have to. I then proceed to give the people a wide berth as I overtake. Especially if they look inexperienced and wobbly. I have my hands close to the brakes too so incase they accidentally swerve or stop, you can avoid the situation. 

Lastly, be positive and reassuring. More people on bikes means less cars! Don't be all angry and uptight because you had to sit behind them for a few more seconds. Geez, you start to sound like some of those impatient car drivers that try to get in front of you while risking your life! It's no different bike to bike!

If they apologise for holding you up or forcing you to stop, tell them it's no problem, smile and wish them a great day! For some reason just because I ride fast and am in my teens on a bike with drop bars people think they are inconveniencing me by riding slower than me. A large number even feel the need to apologise which surprises me! In reality, I have no problem sitting behind a slow group of people until it's safe to overtake. I've even sat behind a group of very slow riding backpackers for over 20 minutes along the linear bike path. No problem. It's great to see others enjoying the city by bike! 

I always try to follow these rules when out cycling. Especially on shared paths that could have large numbers of beginners or children on them. e.g the linear bike path. Because at the end of the day, we're all trying to have fun. Why ruin someone's ride just because they held you up for a few minutes? 

I hope the cyclist responsible sees the article and has a good think about their actions towards other riders.  

As written, it sounds like a non-event, the only thing the approaching cyclist did wrong was to "let out a bellow"

If I was riding past a slower group and a child veered into the right lane, I might say "look out" and would the author of that letter consider that a bellow or not?

The other riders may have been going too fast or swore, but the story is vague about that.

The incident was probably more unpleasant than it reads, and dangerous riding is never acceptable

As someone that runs on shared paths a lot it never ceases to amaze me at how stupid some cyclist can be. The worst are the people who must think they can't cut it on the road so they use the shared path to conduct their cycle training. They are on road bikes, dressed head to toe in Lycra. I've even seen pace lines....this is a SHARED path. Share it for god sake.
So I say to all you people, in your wanna be pelatons and pace lines, attacking the next up ramp or segment between playgrounds, grow some balls and get on the road.

Leaving aside your comment of "get on the road", I essentially agree that a shared path is not the place for setting hot strava times. Pedestrians should not be intimidated by cyclists. Polite warning bells do not give someone the right to zip past a pedestrian at speed.

We should be better behaved but we aren't.

I can tell you there are some idiots who treat linear park like a race road, I go there for a quiet nature ride and to relax and these idiots are full team kits expecting to drop 30+ on a shared path.

So... a cyclist was approaching from behind, rang their bell to give sufficient warning, moved to pass safely with plenty of room... and then right at the last minute just as they were passing, the kid on their bike swerved over in front of them?

I don't really see the problem here. Seems like a reasonable time to give a surprised yell. Not everyone's first reaction is to laugh it off just because it was some kid.

The problem is the riders were treating it like a roadway instead of a shared space.

Kids are always going to do silly things like swerve. The riders should have slowed down to overtake.

+1  , people walking dogs are the same and unpredictable, I always slow but I would never go over 20kph anyway on the path unless I am the only one on it. Linear park is great for cycling though if you like nature.

The only suggestion about the speed of the overtaking manoeuvre is the phrase "own personal racetrack" in the closing paragraph which appears to be general comments not necessarily specific to the incident. The fact that the author had time to notice the approaching cyclists, hear the bell, and confirm the child had heard the bell before they passed could suggest that they were not riding excessively fast.

There is not sufficient information for outsiders (especially those of us who don't know the path) to judge who might have been at fault. The situation does not sound much different than driving on a normal country road, catching up to a learner driver on a straight flat section, signaling to over take, and just as you draw level with them in the oncoming lane, their front wheel crosses the centreline of the road towards you. My reaction in that case would be rather similar - say something which expresses my surprise and distress (at nobody in particular), take evasive action, and keep driving.

The path is not in Google Streetview or satellite maps yet, so I assume it to be a relatively smooth and flat surface where even novice riders might develop some speed.

The path was installed in conjunction with the electrification and track works associated with the Noarlunga rail line.  The path is smooth, yet relatively narrow (akin to MTB) with fences on both sides which makes the effective width narrower.

Whatever the child is doing, the responsibility is on the experienced rider to be aware and accommodating, just like we place the responsibility on the car driver to not run over us when we're on the road.  Set a good example and the children will keep smiling and keep riding, plus the general community will think we're a great bunch of people (rather than the current perception that we're Lycra clad loonies).  Set some other example and you risk having them give up.  That is not what we aspire to achieve because that ends up in another person driving a car.

It takes little effort to be courteous and encouraging, even to slow down, lend words of encouragement and move on.  I've been known to "race" the kid on the 12" bike to make his ride fun.  Good manners and courtesy is the cheapest thing that you can give, yet it is worth more to the recipient than gold.

I agree.

Fences both sides severely limit the options for last-moment evasive action, too.

I can imagine scenarios that are both much better and much worse than the description provided appears. My wife had a similar encounter one day on the Torrens Linear Park path. I was riding ahead of her, we both rang bells and watched a family gather their kids to one side of the path. I rode safely past (on a fairly steep downhill bit) at perhaps 10-15km/h. One of the kids popped out from between the parents forcing my wife to take evasive action onto the grass. I don't know if she said anything, but can imagine a shout of surprise or warning could be misinterpreted as a "bellow"

I am only commenting on the path speed by some bad apples I have witnessed myself in the past. It looked like some very arrogant riding.

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