“Shared use zones” are pathways open for use by both pedestrians and bicyclists.  And while they are purported “designed” to accommodate mixed usage, real world experience shows that they are problematic and challenging to cyclists and pedestrians alike.  To the cyclist, the greatest challenge is how to notify pedestrians effectively of their presence, and in dealing with the sudden movements of those very pedestrians.  Pedestrians are frequently oblivious to their surroundings.  They change directions or cease moving, all without warning.  Telephone conversations, the use of headphones, etc., only compound the problem.  Pedestrians complain about cyclists threading amongst them at speeds they feel are excessive, or other similar “reckless” conduct, but in reality I find that there are very few cyclists who act in this manner.


When pedestrians and cyclists collide (and it does happen) serious injuries can occur, and not just to the pedestrian.  Remember, as a cyclist a low speed fall can produce significant injuries.  So, with the hope of helping to reduce such collisions or feelings of general ill will amongst persons who frequent New Jersey’s “shared use” paths, I’d like to pass along some points for your consideration which are applicable to cyclists and pedestrians alike:


  1. First and foremost, keep in mind that a “shared use” path is just that:  shared.  Both cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to be there, so neither group is an intruder.  So be courteous and don’t block the path.  Leave room for others to pass by you, and look around before you shift directions.


  1. Pedestrians, please bear in mind that cyclists will come upon your position with relative speed and will be able to react better if you walk in a predictable manner.  If you see or hear a cyclist approaching, realize that the cyclist is likely to have seen you already and planned to avoid you.  As such, don’t try to dodge THEM.  Doing so will only increase the likelihood of a collision.


  1. Cyclists – mind your speed, give advance warning of your approach, and don’t intentionally use pedestrians as a slalom course.


In the end, it boils down to mutual respect for those around you.  Ride safely!