Social Etiquette: Angst of a communal path

The sandy path I run on right beside the beach in Mordialloc breeds pockets of idiotic cyclists, walkers, family congregations, teenagers with their iPods and dog walkers. It’s such a convenient path, only 50 metres from the apartment. By the time the weekend rolls around I’m on it.

Unfortunately other people are on it too.

I like people and I surely know how to share but it seems manners and sharing etiquette – on the path – seems to have lost its way. So many times I’ve had to completely stop running to weave through a heavy load of teenagers and families standing on the path. They don’t move at all and are completely oblivious to others, so I have to halt and walk around the group. It’s not the quantity so much, it’s the lack of awareness and politeness. Never have I heard someone say “Watch out for that man running” and shuffle out the way.

Then there’s the whole ‘which side do I run on’ debacle.People: normal road rules apply to the path – hug the left.So often path users have no clue as to which side to stay on, therefore causing a wretched mess of confusion at some point along the track. I’ve even been given the “What?” expression when I’ve had to stop because I’m about to run into another runner or walker.

And then there’s cyclists.

Normally cyclists use Beach Rd for their workouts but a few have filtered through to the path, dishing up a mixed bag of etiquette. Some will use their bell to raise the attention they are coming up. Walkers will then get out of the way. The cyclists then pass through with ease. Perfect. Some won’t use a bell and just rocket by at a great knot. I’m yet to see an accident, but I’m sure I’m only days away. Ideally, cyclists should be aware that the weekend will bring in more traffic and to avoid a crammed path made smaller by the hoards of people it draws in. Weekdays would be better for them.

My runs along the beach trail normally last 45 minutes. I’ve completed more than 60 runs along that path (minimum) and during those sessions I’m yet to come home without some traumatic story of how I had to stop to watch three people watch one person tie up a shoelace on the path which forced me to break stride, or how  two people took up the whole path and wouldn’t move when I ran by them which meant I had to run into a set of overhanging branches.

I’ve been irked by this lack of manners by the community so I’ve come up with a solution that seems to be working.

If I come across two people hogging the path and they are heading in the same direction as I, I’ll drag my feet for a bit so it makes a scraping sound. This has been quite effective so far.The people appear shocked at first, probably wondering why I’m dragging my feet, but it’s effective so I’m sticking with it.

If that fails, I’ve started to implore the “fake cough” routine and that normally gets people’s attention straight away. I haven’t worked out what to do when I’m confronted by a group of people taking up the entire path and I suspect I won’t anytime soon.It’s too many to tackle at once.

And, really that’s just plain selfish on their part.


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