Heavy fog or a narrow, overgrown and winding trail, can reduce visibility to 3 meters. Those conditions can continue for hours, and the safest approach 'don't go' cannot be always taken.

I find that riding with appropriate speed as to be able to stop within those 3 meters can be quite fun and rewarding riding experience. This allows for safely intercepting tourists and animals (boars, turtles, bears, cows, horses).

However, should a runner or another cyclist approach from the opposite direction, being able to stop by the end of your vision field becomes insufficient to avoid a crash. What steps can be taken to reduce the ever present risk of this happening.

One approach is riding at walking pace or just walking. This seems appropriate to city parks or heavily inhabited trails. However, on a winding trail, this could mean pushing the bike for hours. Clearly not mountain biking!

I have used a small speaker with quiet popular rock music. No idea if it did increase safety, but it did annoy some tourists, wanting to enjoy nature and peace.

The only bike-only trails in my country are several downhill racing courses. All other trails are shared, with widely varying traffic loads.

I have trails like this in mind, but with more vegetation and more turns:

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  • "DH courses" ? downhill course ? – Max May 17 '18 at 13:41
  • @DavidRicherby I edited the question, attempting to make it more focused. Is it any better? – Vorac May 18 '18 at 22:44
  • Do you have access to any dedicated bike tracks, as opposed to shared-use tracks ? – Criggie May 18 '18 at 23:48
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    @Criggie as indicated in the last sentence of the question, the only dedicated bike tracks are fewer than 10 tracks with jumps, drops and 70% inclination. The signs 'forbidden for tourists' are hardly necessary there. All the other tracks are shared between tourists, horsemen, riders, runners, dogs etc. But the load varies from 1 person / 5 minutes to 1 person / 5 days. In summer. – Vorac May 19 '18 at 0:04
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    @Criggie also, my main concern is not tourists. It's riders and runners in the opposite direction. Especially in a tight turn, overlooking a cliff face. – Vorac May 19 '18 at 0:09

Adjust your speed for the road/trail conditions, especially on shared trails; they are not meant for "high" speed cycling.

Anecdotal, in Montreal, on the mountain, there's a gravel path, the Chemin Olmstead, shared by everyone, walkers, runners, cyclists and families, when cycling, it is understood that we should go slow, going and more especially going down.

If the trail is not large enough and you are forced to dismount and walk, then you should not bike on it.

In the fog (and night), you need to make yourself visible, wear some reflective clothing/harness/sash and have some small blinking lights in front and back of your bike (blinking is better than always on lights)

As for the music, I would advise against it, it is annoying as heck and it not a safety plus (IMO).

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    In my experience, music, as well as blinking front light, reduces the rider's ability to perceive and act upon his surroundings. – Vorac May 17 '18 at 13:57

I think you mostly answered your own question, i.e. slow down and take more care as conditions dictate.

If you are in areas where there are many pedestrians, some form of audible warning is useful. Traditionally this means a bicycle bell. Pedestrians associate the sound of a bell with and approaching bicycle and mostly act appropriately. Your rock music would act as a continuous alert but some people may be confused (or annoyed) by it.

If you don't want to have to slow down or walk, bicycle where there are less or no pedestrians.

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    So ring the bell before turning any low-vis corner? – Vorac May 17 '18 at 13:55
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    yes, why not, but just slow down. – Max May 17 '18 at 13:59

A bright, focused light can be very helpful in situations low visibility or frequent visual obstacles. Having a light that casts a visible beam at least 33 feet in front of your bicycle extends the visibility out in front of your direction of travel. A car or other vehicle behind an obstacle can see the light cross their direction of travel before they emerge, giving them an awareness of your presence. This still necessitates caution, but the 33 feet gives you a healthy stopping distance to react to dangerous situations.

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  • Hmm. Have you tried this on trail in bright daylight? Do you have evidence it works? Does it have to be white light? – Vorac May 18 '18 at 22:46
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    In the daytime a flashing headlight can be fairly effective. – Daniel R Hicks May 19 '18 at 2:19
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) are a great idea. Batteries are cheap - accidents are not. – Criggie May 19 '18 at 23:05
  • @alexrobertson Welcome to SE - this is a good answer. You seem to know what you're talking about, so feel free to attempt some other questions too. – Criggie May 19 '18 at 23:07
  • I use daytime running lights on trails and on streets frequently when in situations with blind corners. I've noticed cars take notice of me before I can see them around the corner, oncoming cyclists note my presence, and overall feel more seen. – Alex Robertson May 21 '18 at 14:03

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