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Dear trail user wearing headphones …

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 25, 2013

Dear trail user wearing headphones,

Help me out here. I ride my bike to work almost every day. I zip along the Butler Hike and Bike Trail and the Shoal Creek Trail for a good chunk of my commute between downtown and the Allandale neighborhood.

Frequently (as in every day), I approach you rocking out to music (or maybe books on tape?) while you tick off the miles. You’re cruising down the center of the trail with headphones muffling all noise but what’s being pumped directly into your ears.

I don’t want to alarm you, but I need to get around, so I politely ring the little bell affixed to my handlebars or call out “on your left,” so you know I’m coming.

Problem is, you don’t hear me.

Believe me, I understand the need for musical accompaniment. Sometimes all it takes is the right soundtrack to get through a challenging workout.

I also realize the trail belongs to all of us, not just cyclists or runners or hikers. That’s why we all need to share the space and respect others’ right to it.

But as Austin’s population has increased, so has the number of folks on our trails. And so, a request. If you choose to wear headphones, please be aware of other trail users around you. Maybe consider just wearing one ear bud. That way you can hear a cyclist (or another runner) approaching from behind. Or turn the volume down a tad, so you can hear the ring of our warning bells.

We all want to stay safe out there. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Thank you,