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Are you using the right side of the trail?

Echo Press staff photo A bicyclist rode on the Central Lakes Trail. Bicyclists should remember to stay on the right side of the trail.

Whether on foot or on wheels, countless people use the scenic Central Lakes Trail each day.

While strolling, dashing or gliding along, common courtesy on the trail is crucial to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone.

According to Al Lieffort, park superintendent for Douglas County Public Works, a major misconception that's adding hazard to the trail is which side of it to use.

"There's a myth floating around that walkers should walk on the left, and bikers should bike on the right," said Lieffort. "Myth busted. Everyone should stay on the right [if] it is on a trail."

Walkers and bikers alike should ensure that there is ample room around them for others to pass, and be constantly aware of their surroundings. When passing, people should alert others of their intentions so as not to take anyone by surprise, Lieffort added.

The 55 miles of paved trail, stretching from Fergus Falls to Osakis, is under the jurisdiction of the state of Minnesota. Although the state does not have any specific rules in place, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has trail etiquette guidelines to follow:

•Stay on designated trails.

•Keep right so others can pass.

•Keep all pets on a leash.

•Obey traffic signs and rules.

•Pick up all garbage and litter.

•Respect adjoining landowners' rights and privacy.

•Warn other trail users when passing by giving an audible signal.

•Enjoy the beauty of wild plants and animals, but leave them undisturbed for all to enjoy.

If everyone follows these rules and treats others with common courtesy, the trail will continue to be a safe and beautiful asset to the community.

"Remember that the trail is supposed to be a place to have fun," said Lieffort. "Be tolerant and safe. People are courteous if you are courteous to them."