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Who Yields On Mountain Biking? The uphill or down hill rider?

Rules of The Trail: To yield or not to yield  

You're riding up the steady climb of bluffs. A downhill rider steps off the trail so you can maintain your momentum. Thanks. You're riding down a super flowy section of a hill.  An uphill rider steps off the trail and waves you through so you can continue your descent, in the flow and having fun. The best of both worlds. 

According to International Mountain Bicycling Association's Rules of the Trail, “bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.” That's the rule many of us grew up with and teach our kids. But there is another side of the coin to consider. Enter the uphill yield.

Let's be clear — downhill cyclists must ride at a speed at which they can stay on the trail and still stop, and a rider coming downhill should never assume the rider coming up will yield for them unless they are called through. However, it is becoming more common these days to be waved through as a downhill rider so you can enjoy the descent uninterrupted. One might suggest it can be easier for an uphill rider to step off the trail than it is for a downhiller. An uphill rider may be more aware of downhill traffic earlier than the downhill rider, because the uphill rider typically is traveling more slowly and quietly.

In the end, as the rules of the trail are universally understood, it is the uphill riders' choice to yield or be yielded to, just as it is the hiker's or runner's choice to step off the trail for a bike, even though bikers are obliged to yield to pedestrians. Whomever yields the trail — be it an uphill or downhill biker, a hiker or a runner — a genuine “thanks” goes a long way.

Happily, there are options for those who want to speed downhill without giving the up a second thought. You just have to search and find one way marked trails.    Several mountain bike centric communities, such as Fruita and Bend, have incorporated directional trail designs, which eliminates user conflict and provide safety by having alternate uphill- or downhill-only access for mountain bikers.

We all share a responsibility for our trails to remain both fun and safe, and that requires all cyclists to ride in control and be aware of what might be coming at them, either up or down. We're interested in hearing your take on the downhill versus uphill yield. Leave a comment.

Should you need to talk with a St. Louis Bicycle Accident Lawyer, please call Alvin Wolff at 314-584-4109.