I live in a neighborhood with a lot of old folks. I also live on a block connected to this. I run and bike on the trail a lot. Old people walk on the trail a lot. I often find myself approaching a pack of elderly Americans at (relative, when I'm running) high rates of speed. Sometimes I approach them from the front with a smile and a "hello". Other times I approach them from the back with a dilemma.
When I am on my bike, I yell out "On the left!" when approaching someone walking in the same direction as I am biking. For most people, I can yell this out well in advance and they will raise their arm, move on over and we're done with it. With old folks, there are two common outcomes.
Outcome 1: They do not hear my "On the left!" call while maintaining their sloth-like course in the exact center of the trail, thus forcing me to gear way down and try the call at a closer distance and with a louder voice.
Outcome 2: "On the left!" from a closer distance and with a louder voice scares the living daylights out of many, many people...presumably some with heart problems.
I have tried bells and horns and they both run into the same basic issue: either a decent number of people do not hear the warning or they are startled when it is too close.
Is there a sweet spot for "On the left!" calls, bells, whistles and horns? Is there a secret old-person trick I am unaware of? I'm tired of startling sweet old ladies just as much as I am tired of slowing waayyyyyyyy down (sometimes having to come to a complete stop) while biking on a multi-use trail.
The one positive here is that I have yet to see someone over the age of 60 walking while listening to an ipod. 20-something joggers with ipods are just about as bad as elderly walkers when it comes to obliviously walking in the middle of the trail. If I can hear your music a good 20 feet behind you, chances are you are not going to hear any warning I am capable of.
What say you?
(Seeing someone over 60 with an ipod (and while texting) is my #1 sign of me getting old. #2 is seeing a woman over 60 with lower back ink and a butterfly tattoo on her ankle. Grandma liked to party and The Chronic is probably on one of her playlists. That day is coming.)