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Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 1994

CLINTON BIKE PATH HITS BUMPY PATCH

October 18, 1994

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Bicycle enthusiasts tend to shun the city's longest paved bike path, which is "a glorified sidewalk," says a local bike club officer.

If you drive on Clinton Parkway, you've seen them -- runners, walkers, skaters or even people giving their dogs a little exercise.

They're all using the 8-foot-wide, four-mile asphalt bike paths that run along each side of Clinton Parkway, from Iowa Street west to County Road 13.

What's interesting is that many serious bicycle enthusiasts have shunned the bike path, says Jim Turner, president of the Lawrence Bike Club, which has about 150 members.

"Basically, it's being loved to death. There are way too many uses for it," Turner said. "There are many of us who avoid the bike path because we feel it is dangerous."

One reason is the pedestrian use. Bicyclists traveling 25 to 30 mph coming up behind walkers or runners often startle them, he said.

Bicyclists call out "on your left," a few seconds before they whiz by, and "a lot of times people will jump, and it'll scare the bejesus out of them," he said.

Some pedestrians won't react quickly enough or may even turn into the bike's path, he said.

The paths were built to keep bicycle traffic off Clinton Parkway -- it's against state law to ride a bike there, said City Manager Mike Wildgen.

Wildgen, who uses the bike path, said it wasn't designed to be exclusive to bikes.

"Some may shun it," Wildgen said. "But many, many people do use it and it's very functional and seems to work well."

Wildgen said the path, like the one that will be built along the South Lawrence Trafficway and like the city's other bike paths and trails, was built wide enough to be shared by walkers and joggers.

"You have to be careful," Wildgen said. "You can't assume the whole thing is for bicycles. You have to share the road on the city streets just like you have to share the bike path."

But Turner says the Clinton Parkway bike paths were poorly designed.

Because they're so close to the road, they get littered with broken bottles thrown from cars, Turner said.

Bicyclists like to get up to 30 mph going down hills on the paths "and time and time again, you're dumped into an intersection," Turner said.

"It's a glorified sidewalk," Turner said. "I think bikes should be prohibited on it and they should be on the road where they belong."

Turner said if the city decides to build bike paths in the future, "they need to talk with the people who are going to use them. It's sad, but I don't know how much that happens."

Turner also said if area officials want to build a good bike path, "one to Lone Star Lake would be an instant success."

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