Ding, ding: ‘On the left’ | AspenTimes.com

Ding, ding: ‘On the left’

Trails ranger John Armstrong affixes a bike bell to Aspen resident Scott Miller's handlebars Saturday at Stein Park along the Rio Grande Trail. (Janet Urquhart/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN Bicyclists were getting their bells hung Saturday on the Rio Grande Trail near Aspen.Pitkin County Open Space and Trails officials were handing out free bells to bikers at Stein Park, along the popular trail, and urging them to give a warning ding to pedestrians and joggers to help prevent collisions.The county and city of Aspen put up the money to purchase about 200 of the bells, and, for the second straight weekend, trail rangers were installing them on the handlebars of any willing bicyclist who passed by. Later, the rangers moved the effort down to the Woody Creek Tavern, a popular destination for bicyclists.

Sunday, they’ll be stationed along the Rio Grande Trail between Basalt High School and Emma, according to trails ranger John Armstrong.With as many as 500 users a day on the trail below Aspen, according to Armstrong, there’s a potential for conflicts between pedestrians, joggers and the speedier bicyclists all making their way up and down a trail that now extends as far downvalley as Carbondale.Rangers urged any bicyclist who didn’t want a bell, or who was riding a rental bike, to shout, “On your left” – the customary procedure when advancing from behind before passing a pedestrian (pedestrians should stay right, bicyclists should pass to their left).

Though the bikers were getting the freebie, the pedestrians strolling past Armstrong’s station Saturday were the most effusive in their praise of the initiative.”That’s a great idea,” said Murray Pitt of Aspen, who said he walks the trail regularly and witnesses a mishap between a bicyclist and a pedestrian about once a week.”They come up behind you, they don’t announce themselves,” Pitt said of bicyclists. “They should make these [bells] mandatory.”

“Tourists are the worst – they don’t know trail etiquette,” agreed Nancy Hodari, a former Aspen resident who now calls Michigan home.The Rio Grande Trail between Aspen and Woody Creeks sees plenty of use by both locals and visitors who rent bikes for an outing along the scenic stretch.Though no more bell giveaway stations are planned after Sunday, anyone riding the trail in the coming weeks who spots a trail ranger can request a free bell, according to Armstrong. The rangers will carry some with them.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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