Positive Reinforcement

trail sign 400The term “eye candy” is often used to refer to often expensive, very colorful and really attractive bicycles. I recently took a long run on the Little Miami Scenic Trail and was overtaken by some truly great looking bicycles, which swiftly and silently approached before whizzing past me. But, as much as I appreciate “eye candy” bikes, to paraphrase Shania Twain, “that didn’t impress me much.”
What did impress me was a number of bicyclists, many riding basic bikes, who called out “on your left” or “passing” or rang their bells as they approached. I knew what to expect and knew to maintain my position running along the righthand side of the trail. I was pleased to know that at least some trail users are knowledgeable, courteous and safety-minded.

I am in the habit of calling out “on your right” when a bicyclist passes me unannounced, hoping that at least a few will figure out that they should call out “on your left” when passing. I have no idea if this approach is at all effective. On the other hand, whenever someone passes me and announces their presence, I always say “thank you,” to acknowledge I’ve heard, to express my appreciation and to provide positive reinforcement. My hope is that my “thank you” will encourage others always to announce their presence when passing.

Here are two things you can do to encourage safe passing behavior on the trail:

1. Set a good example by always announcing your presence when passing.
2. Provide positive reinforcement by thanking those who announce their presence when passing you.

With these simple actions, each of us individually and all of us together can make a real difference, one passerby at a time.

by Erick Wikum
October 2019

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