Shared Paths

Shared Paths


This is the St Albans Cycle Campaign guide to enjoying Space for Cycling where the space is shared with pedestrians.  It is a very simple guide, because the skills and techniques for cyclists in shared spaces are very basic.


Shared space is best enjoyed at gentler pace.  Always slow down as you approach a walker.  Be ready to stop altogether.


As you approach anyone else, let them know you are there.  The easy and recognised way to introduce yourself is with a bell.  Ring it as soon as you see someone ahead & ring it again as you get closer.  If there is no response or acknowledgement, slow down some more and perhaps call out a friendly greeting.  If still no response, slow right down and pass as wide as you can. You might have to stop and wait. For those of you without a bell, improvise with some whistling, singing or kind words.


Pedestrians have priority.  On bridleways, horse riders have priority.  Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared paths. Many pedestrians are happy to ease your passing if they know you are there – so do say thank you when pedestrians have been good to you! Legally, on segregated paths (those with a white line separating walking and cycling space) walkers are allowed on either side of the line, cyclists aren’t! Shared paths are for pleasure not speed. Be social and enjoy the human and natural environment. It is reasonable for walkers to stroll side-by-side in this environment, don’t expect them to jump out of the way for you! 


Most cyclists on shared paths are sensible and considerate; they want a good relationship with those on foot. They appreciate a response in kind, so if you hear a bell, could you give a little wave or other acknowledgement that you know there is a cyclist near?

While some may feel that having cyclists on the path makes it too busy, this can be a good thing for feeling safer in isolated places or at quiet times. And campaigning by cyclists’ groups can result in improvements that benefit walkers too. Cyclists are allies in the cause of safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly conditions for human-powered travel.


I rang my bell like crazy but the walkers still jumped out of their skin and glared at me when I rode slowly past. Possible reasons for this are a deaf walker or a daydreaming walker. It can be worse if the weather is bad, their ears can be covered by hoods, hats and scarves. Go even slower next time, and try a voice call as well as the bell. If the walker is plugged into a personal music player or is fiddling with their phone, the same techniques should be used.

Always slow down and pass as wide as you can. Dogs and children often suddenly move to the side so  it is best to not get between dog/child and owner/parent. 

Look out for other cyclists. It is usual to keep left as you pass oncoming cyclists, and to ring or call out before passing a cyclist you have caught up with. 

Slow down at bends and where there is poor visibility such as at path junctions or where there are hedges and trees. 

Use lights after dark. 

Use courtesy at all times. 

If you are not prepared to be courteous, and to forgo any time schedule.... PLEASE DON'T USE SHARED PATHS. STACC expects its members to set a good example and to encourage all cyclists to enjoy the pleasures of Actively Considerate Cycling.  

N.B. STACC is campaigning for proper provision for cycling, and for people cycling to be safe on the road.  Shared paths are not ideal for all cycling - for going faster we need safe roadspace and segregated cycling routes.