To wave or not to wave? Hiking, Biking and Running Rules of the Road

There really isn’t a worse feeling than being unsure of the appropriate etiquette in situations where it seems like everyone else knows the unspoken rules.  Of course, you think of this in business or dining situations, but after moving from NYC to LA, I found myself in that position for some pretty unexpected situations – hiking, biking and running.  I will admit, New York City taught me the art of passing people on a crowded street, but I’m not sure I would say New Yorker street etiquette is always welcome in other places.

Let’s get into the unspoken rules of the road (on foot or two-wheels, driving is a whole other story!). Here are some tidbits that no one really talks about especially as it pertains to simply.. being outside. Like how other hikers always yield to uphill hikers because gravity is the boss of the trail. Or how runners always use their left hand to wave at other runners because it’s just more aerodynamic that way. These rules of respect for hiking, biking, and running are like being part of a secret club, where the only requirement for membership is knowing how to share the road (or sidewalk). Below you will find a little cheat sheet, so you feel confident pulling out your trendy neck bandana and looking like a real local. 

When it comes down to it, the most important thing is to be respectful and considerate of others, like all other aspects of etiquette. So get out there, enjoy the great outdoors, and don’t forget to wave!


  • Say hello to fellow hikers you pass on the trail. It’s polite, and you never know who may be a long-lost relative or a tech entrepreneur love interest who might be looking to whisk you away on your next hiking trip.
  • Use your right hand to wave to other hikers. It’s like driving, but with more dirt and sweat.
  • Stay on designated trails to minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Yield to uphill hikers, as they have the right of way.
  • Let other hikers know if you’re passing them, and do so on the left. No need to huff and puff and stand really close to them – just announce, “on your left!”.
  • If you’re hiking with a group, walk single file to avoid blocking the trail.
  • If you’re hiking with a dog, make sure it’s on a leash and clean up after discarding into a proper trash can.


  • When passing other bikers, it’s customary to give a friendly nod or wave. 
  • If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and want to pass the biker in front of you, politely exclaim “On your left!” to let them know you’re passing. It’s like a game of surprise.
  • If you’re riding in a group, avoid the temptation to ride side-by-side and take up the entire lane. Not only is it dangerous, but it certainly irritates drivers. Plus, it makes it harder to have a conversation with your fellow cyclists. Instead, ride single file and enjoy the view.
  • Traffic laws pertain to bikers, too! Including stopping at stop signs, red lights, and crosswalks. Research where you are and learn the rules of the road.
  • DUI’s on bikes are a thing!
  • Ride on the right side of the road (in America), and stay in a straight line. 
  • Pass other cyclists on the left, and give them plenty of room.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
  • As silly as you may feel, wearing a helmet is important and highly recommended.  However, wearing a full lycra outfit we’ll leave up to you.


  • When passing other runners, it’s customary to give a nod or wave. Or, if you’re feeling really friendly, you can even give a fist bump.
  • Use your left hand to wave to other runners. It’s like a mirror image of biking, but with less lycra.
  • If you’re running with a dog, make sure it’s not pulling you off course or dragging you down the street. And if your dog happens to do its business on the sidewalk, don’t forget to clean it up. It’s the responsible thing to do, and it will earn you some serious karma points.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings and be cautious of others.
  • Yield to pedestrians, especially those with strollers, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids.
  • If running on a shared path, stay to the right and pass on the left.
  • Use caution when running with headphones, as they can make it

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