Monday, May 31, 2010

Trail Rules

As the Sacramento Bee renews its annual review of the rules for everyone using the Parkway trail, it is obvious that we need to consider expanding the trail to create separate trails for bicyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians to reduce the danger of serious accidents, as we noted in 2008.

An excerpt from the Bee.

“The parkway, the river and the trail – officially the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail – are, all together, a special place. Just recently, the pros from the Amgen Tour of California marveled at its beauty and length, and revered cycling broadcaster Paul Sherwen said it may be the best biking trail in America….

“Pat Sweeney is an owner of Fleet Feet on Sacramento's J Street and a serious triathlete. He uses the trail; his customers use the trail. He sees the phenomenon every year about now: First-timers are shocked by the traffic. Often they don't pay attention to what everyone else is doing.

"The newbies don't understand the volume out there," he said. "They're on the wrong side, or they cruise in both lanes, or they're moms with baby joggers wanting to walk side by side. And sometimes they get mad at everyone else."

“Flannery says he and his rangers see that newbie problem with families who let their young children wobble around the trail, unaware that as many as 5 million people use it in a year, and some are in a train of bikes going 20 mph or faster. (By the way, the rangers don't ticket for riding faster than the 15 mph posted limit. They do ticket for being out of control.)

"The bike trail probably isn't the best place to teach your child to ride," he said diplomatically. I say, it would be just as smart to let your kids wobble around on Fair Oaks Boulevard. Or is that mean?

“In any case, that's why Flannery is big on talking about trail rules now.

"When we make a big deal of them in spring, that pays off the rest of the year," he said.

“And they're not just rules, they're also basic safety advisories. In a car, you stay in your lane, not just because it's a law but because it's how you stay alive.

"Not crashing into that bike moving at 20 mph-plus is also a healthy concept.

“So the first rules and safety guidelines should be easy.

“• If you're on foot, walk on the left side, facing oncoming bikes, so everyone can see everyone. How hard is this to figure out? Most everyone else you'll see is on the left side, plus it's painted on the trail.

“• Even better, stay on the dirt whenever you can.

“• And cyclists, stay in your lane.”