By Jeff Barber
May 5, 2021
I recently noticed a new addition to the staid, standard trail markers dotting my local trail system. Below the usual icons for bikers and hikers, difficulty ratings, and directional arrows, there was a square showing a waving emoji-style hand with the words “Be Nice, Say Hi!” in a friendly, bubbly font. While the message itself seems pretty straightforward, I wanted to learn more about the campaign. Could trail etiquette really be boiled down to just four words?
Erik Hillard has been involved in trail advocacy in California for many years now. Growing up, Hillard and friends rode their bikes on trails that weren’t exactly bike-legal, and he learned early on that he could generally get away with riding the trails as long as he was extra nice to the hikers he encountered. Later, while handling social media for the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA), Hillard says he noticed a drawback to the language associated with trail usage, particularly the triangle-shaped “share the trail” graphic most bikers are now familiar with.
“I don’t feel like I could come up with a better graphic to communicate that bikes need to slow down or yield to hikers and horses etc, than that triangle. Graphically, it is a successful way of communicating that. But it’s not fun. It’s not something that like, people really want to talk about...”
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