I’ll admit up front that I’m a traffic wuss. My strategy is to blend in till there’s a safe moment to pass. However, this passive approach is not the norm, and even I have to sometimes ask a fellow path user to yield. So what’s the best method?
My usual readers will at this time expect me to say, “that depends.” Not this time. Get a bell. Bells are friendly warnings. Bells are decorative. Bells send a clear message that a bike is coming. After all, does any other mode of transportation use a bell? Other than cable cars, which aren’t likely to be approaching you from behind on a path, I can’t think of any.
So what about horns. First, they usually sound like wounded ducks. Second, for me at least, horns are too carish. (Being like a car.) They can be startling and they often make babies cry.
The most commonly-used warning method is my least favorite. Yelling between spandex-clad cyclists is seen as common courtesy. To non-cyclists however these shouts are seen as brutish and angry. Worse, people unfamiliar with the phrase “on your left” will often jump to the left, defeating the purpose of the warning.
So get a bell and use it liberally.