Letters to the Editor

Trail safety

October 9, 2007

Advertisement

To the editor:

This is a plea to the bicycle riders that utilize the South Lawrence Trafficway walkway. I frequently run a section of the bypass trail with my dog. I keep him on a leash so that I can control his actions and interactions with others using the same trail.

All too often, a bicycle rider will come from behind and pass by us at a fairly high rate of speed (for a bicycle) and not provide any warning of the passing danger. Sometimes a rider is courteous enough to say, "On your left," but not always.

I am diligent about staying on my side of the trail but my canine friend is back and forth quite a bit. I am only asking for a little advance warning and I will give you the space you require for all of our safety. Thanks.

Scott Burkhart,

Lawrence

Comments

moveforward 7 years, 7 months ago

Trail safety is everyone's concern. Whether you are running or biking or roller blading - you must be aware of what is around you. Take some personal responsability and look over your shoulder once in a while. I bike that trail... but frankly, I startle walkers more often when I am running than when I bike the trail. If you are on the trail... you should expect traffic. Is is not and never will be the place to teach your children how to ride - no matter how fair it seems. And while you we are at it... keep that dog leash tight when there are others around. We have absolutely NO idea if your dog is freindly or not... a loose leash is a real risk for others.

KS 7 years, 7 months ago

Scott, I agree, but you know bikers.........they sort of do it their own way. The world revolves around them. Don't get me started about how they ignore many traffic laws.

rtwngr 7 years, 7 months ago

I do not see the conservative/liberal debate in the letter. I do see bicyclists ignoring traffic laws and generally acting in a discourteous manner to pedestrians on a consistent basis. I think the cyclists get peeved because they have to share the road at all whether it is with automobiles or pedestrians. The pedestrian is ALWAYS afforded the right of way whether they are right or wrong because they are the most exposed to danger.

Noweigh 7 years, 7 months ago

Informed.........your group is to be commended on letting motorists and others know what's going on. Most cyclists in Lawrence continue to have the entitlement sense that everyone should accommodate them, particularly as they roar through lights, stop signs, etc. Cycling is great but no more praise-worthy or higher calling than driving a vehicle or walking. Simple, common courtesy should rule.

mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

I didn't miss it, but maybe sometimes the dog wanders over, because of a space issue, or what is in the way. And my dog doesn't heel, either.
But I think the writer is speaking of common courtesy, which other bike riders show.

Baille 7 years, 7 months ago

"according to them"

Can you be more specific about these cyclists you have spoken with?

deputyfife 7 years, 7 months ago

Most people on here seem to think that cyclists feel that they are entitled to go whereever they want to, ignoring traffic laws. How about all the drivers that feel the need to stop in cross-walks (not before), not come to complete stops at stop signs (only looking left the whole time if they are making a right turn), and if they do stop completely it is usually well past the stop sign? Drivers are just as bad about thinking they are entitled to every inch of the road.

Do not be hypocritical enough to think that only cyclists violoate traffic laws. I am a cyclists who follows most laws and have been nearly hit by inattentive drivers more times than I can count while lawfully crossing through cross-walks.

We need to nip this in the bud -- NIP IT,

Barney

lawrencian 7 years, 7 months ago

You know, the law states that cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast on the open road. Perhaps if you laid off the horn a little, they wouldn't flip you the bird. And since cyclists are used to motorists who routinely try to run them off the road, wouldn't you give yourself a little extra space? If everyone followed the rules of the road, and were more polite, cyclists and motorists, it would be easier to get along on the same road.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 7 months ago

maybe the lte writer needs to take a little more control of his dog, and not be so rigid about what side of the path he walks, so that the dog is always on the outside of him as he walks? that way, his person is more visible further away to oncoming bikers and the dog is always agains the edge. simple...done. fixed the problem.

windjunky 7 years, 7 months ago

Calling out "On Your Left" is not only a courtesy but a safety valve. I have problems with all the "Lance Armstrongs" who blast by without warning. I'm thinking about sounding an air horn in response. If they were so concerned about their time trials and pace, how about the bypass with that wide shoulder. Back in '89 I would of loved the choices of either route. Lawrence still needs a path to downtown and around the infrastructure. Des Monies, Iowa is a great example on how bike trails are to be designed for fun & function.

kerplunkr 7 years, 7 months ago

All of you bring up good points about the inconsistencies in driver and cyclist behavior. While I'm not an avid cyclist, I have had positive and SAFE experiences biking on the streets and trails of Lawrence. As a driver and pedestrian, I have at least one negative experience with a cyclist daily. I witness them break traffic laws and ride on sidewalks (not bike trails). Try walking your dog on a narrow sidewalk with a couple of mountain bikers roaring by! It's extremely nerve-racking. And far too often I see children riding their bikes into oncoming traffic. Who on earth teaches their kids to ride against traffic and not with it? However, the lesson to learn here is that everyone needs to be more aware of what's going on around them and take care in not causing an accident. There will always be a moron driving, walking, or biking.

Carl Edwards 7 years, 7 months ago

This reminds me of my days in the Netherlands where everyone rode bikes. It was common to have a little bell that went "tinkle-tinkle" to warn unsuspecting pedestrians of your approach. Sort of a gentle reminder that we should all have.

Baille 7 years, 7 months ago

"Des Monies, Iowa is a great example on how bike trails are to be designed for fun & function."

So is Ames. And Europe.

"It was common to have a little bell that went "tinkle-tinkle" to warn unsuspecting pedestrians of your approach."

The little bell is nice. I just say "On your left." Of course a couple weeks back I did that the young lady jumped to her left. Thank god I was able to miss her. She yelled out "Sorry." I yelled out "no problem." And on we went.

I have a feeling such a polite young lady has not posted on this thread.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

Y'know, dogs like to sniff stuff. When I had a dog, and I walked her, I let her sniff stuff. Sometimes, that stuff was three or four feet away from me on the other side of the sidewalk. The walk was for me and for her, so I could get out and she could check the Doggy Telegraph System and get the news. Don't hate on dog owners who let their leashed dogs wander over the whole path and then heel them back when someone else wants to use the space. The letter writer clearly indicated that if he had the simple courtesy of an 'on your left', he'd get the dog in line.

As an avid hiker, I've had to learn which trails down here get the jerky cyclists and which ones get the nice ones. My SO and I like to hike side by side so we can talk to one another, falling to single file when we pass another hiker or a cyclist comes up from behind us. If a trail's not crowded, walking abreast presents no difficulties if someone is willing to drop to single file for an 'on your left' or a 'coming up' - or to go around blind curves single file. If a trail is so crowded with hikers that cyclists have to say 'on your left' every ten seconds, maybe it's too crowded for cycling that day. Likewise, if a trail is so crowded with cyclists that hikers feel constrained, then maybe it's not a day for hiking.

As much as parents and pet owners might try to keep their charges heeled, at some point it's not really fair to kids or pets to say, "We're out here to enjoy nature, but you walk in that straight line right there and don't touch or look too closely at anything. We can't stop to look at anything because we might be in a faster-moving person's way, so don't indulge your curiosity, don't explore at all, because you might inconvenience someone who thinks his expectation of an outdoor experience is inherently more important than yours." I really don't think a simple warning is all that much to ask, and telling me it's my 'personal responsibility' to spend my whole hike looking over my shoulder so cyclists don't have to bother with what's considered basic acceptable trail etiquette is just plain ludicrous. How about a little personal responsibility for both sides?

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and to 'Informed', who said, "We never discussed it beforehand, but when we ride together and start to pass others (whether pedestrian or cyclists) the first personwould say the usual, "On your left." And then as the leader would pass, they started saying something like, "There are 6 of us." Then the last person says, "I'm the last one" as they pass"?

Thank you immensely for doing that. Often, in groups of cyclists one rider may lag behind the others, and moving back to the left because you think a group has passed only to scramble out of the last guy's way has cost me a couple of twisted ankles. Being able to count cyclists and getting a clear 'last rider' (to which you're right, most of us will say "Thanks!") helps me and my SO stay out of the way a lot more effectively and means we can all enjoy the trail more safely.

gmemusic 7 years, 7 months ago

Here's the problem as I see it. Drivers don't want us cyclists on the road cause we're too slow, and walkers don't want us on the paths cause we're too fast. So where is there? I don't think it's so much that cyclists feel "entitled" as it is "homeless", at least for me. Trust me, I'm not crazy about riding the unshouldered roads around here, but most anything with a shoulder is a highway that doesn't allow pedestrians or bicycles, so that leaves the county roads and bike paths. You can't go fast enough on a path to get a serious workout due to the multi-use traffic, not to mention the lack of length on those for someone training for a century ride. I would LOVE it if there were a safe place around here to ride where I didn't have to deal with the animosity of drivers, hikers, walkers, joggers, dog owners, roller bladers, etc, but there isn't, so I do my best to be as courteous as I can when I do have to share the road or path with others. Yeah, I'm one of those cyclists who moves over when traffic comes from behind, and calls out "On your left" when I pass on the path, even when it's a truck that buzzes my handlebars when they are supposed to give me four feet of space, or I'm calling out to someone who has their iPod so loud they couldn't hear a nuclear explosion, then acts like I snuck up on them. Fact of the matter is the roads and paths are multi-use and we have to find some way to get along. If you drivers want me off the road, build me a path to ride. Same to the joggers and dog walkers. Otherwise, work with me and I'll work with you. Not all cyclists are bad.

moveforward 7 years, 7 months ago

"I really don't think a simple warning is all that much to ask, and telling me it's my 'personal responsibility' to spend my whole hike looking over my shoulder so cyclists don't have to bother with what's considered basic acceptable trail etiquette is just plain ludicrous."

I never suggested it was a substitute. Anyone passing should say hello or ring a bell - especially a cyclist with such speed and mass. But I also see lots of pedestrians who are completely oblivious to the world around them. Frankly, we often make our own mess, then quickly blame the nearest person not like us.

moveforward 7 years, 7 months ago

"We're out here to enjoy nature, but you walk in that straight line right there and don't touch or look too closely at anything. We can't stop to look at anything because we might be in a faster-moving person's way, so don't indulge your curiosity, don't explore at all, because you might inconvenience someone who thinks his expectation of an outdoor experience is inherently more important than yours."

Seriously, right or wrong, a busy path may not the place to meandor and explore nature up close. Maybe a park is a better choice. I might well want to explore the concrete barriers along the interstate, but it is simply not a wise choice for a pedestrian.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 6 months ago

  1. informed, my dog heels on my left, so I often hear "on your right" I wave and greet the bikers as they wiz by...those who seem friendly inclined.

  2. paths are obviously for sharing. we don't have exclusive paths. I'd rather hear the "on your right" than the bell myself. and I would note that on most days, walking on a gravel surface, I hear the bikes coming up behind me without looking, thank you [note for Baj].

  3. yes, there is no end to sorrows in tx.

  4. jumpin' catfisch, I don't know, only you can answer or ask the shadow, the shadow knows.

kerplunkr 7 years, 7 months ago

gmemusic,

As a driver and a bicyclist, anyone who rides a bike needs to be on the road or on a bike trail. While I know some drivers in Lawrence get upset with cyclists on the road, you are in the proper place. I would much rather drive slowly behind a cyclist on the road in traffic then have one dart out in front of me because they decided to use a crosswalk on Mass where no bikes are allowed on the sidewalk. Some people just don't have the patience or understanding. Same goes for individuals who walk on the bike trails. They need to be as aware and conscientious as cyclists. However, people aren't perfect so what can you expect? Try walking or biking on the KU campus when school is in session. It's 100 times more miserable than the bike trails in town. You have chatty kathy girls and boys walking four or five wide and many times you're forced to walk in the grass. Don't forget the speed demons on road bikes and moutains bikes that ride down those sidewalks and weave in and out of traffic on the road. One of these days a kid is going to get hit and killed by a bus or car on campus because they weren't paying attention. Continue to be a responsible person and don't stress. Let Darwinism weed out the rest.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 7 years, 7 months ago

There's a trail near the South Lawrence Trafficway?

I've got this MX bike that I've been wanting to blaze up for some gnarly on- and off-road action!

bearded_gnome 7 years, 6 months ago

just to clarify #2, I mean that unless it is a weather/wind day, I hear the bike typically before a bell or an "on your right" is uttered. so, try listening it works.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

Moveforward:

But all the letter writer is asking for is a little advance warning. That's it. No other accomodations at all. Just 'On your left.' You suggested it was the 'personal responsability (sic)' of walkers to look over their shoulders once in a while. Really, unless I just happen to look over my shoulder at the right moment to notice that there's a bike coming behind me, that advice is just shy of useless. To be aware enough for looking back to be at all useful, I'd need to keep a fairly constant eye out behind me. It works a lot better (and keeps me from running into the people in front of me) if I look out in front of me, the cyclists look out in front of them, and I move right when they call 'On your left.' There wasn't any need to bring personal responsibility for the walkers in; the point of 'be aware of your surroundings' didn't really require the buzzword, frankly.

Maybe it's not practical to stop on a busy walkway to look at something, but by that principle people shouldn't ever stop on the sidewalk to look at a shop window, either. I'm also talking about hiking and nature trails as well, which (contrary to popular belief) are not race courses to be gotten through as quickly as possible. The world moves at different paces, and it's only in the US that I've seen this Tyranny of the Speedy, that the person in the biggest hurry should somehow dictate the pace of the world. In other countries, people actually stop in the street to have a conversation, and no one yells at them, or honks at them, or insults them.

A friend who recently returned from Italy noted that she could always tell which tourists were American, because when the person in front of them stopped to admire a statue or a work of art, they'd glance at it, get exasperated, and push around the stopped person if there was room - and get progressively more agitated if there wasn't room to go around. "The schedule said 28 famous works of art this afternoon, by golly, and I'm going to see my 28 works of art!" Likewise, at the Smithsonian I was always amused at the cattlecar lineup for the most popular exhibits, with guards to subtly pressure everyone to keep moving so they could get the largest number of people processed through the exhibit - never mind whether they actually saw or learned anything, so long as they could say they'd been to it...

That whole mentality plays into the car/bike/pedestrian conflict. There's not always enough respect in both directions for people whose pace and perhaps goals are different. Maybe the crowded trail is just something for you to get through, but maybe for me I'm really enjoying the sunshine, the interesting patterns of the path, the fascinating plants along the way, or the butterflies.

dirkleisure 7 years, 7 months ago

moveforward, if you get hit by a car, how much of that is your fault?

You strike me as the type of biker who rants and raves about cars not "sharing the road." Rather ironic you have little interest in "sharing the path."

Baille 7 years, 7 months ago

"'On the left' seems a bit hard on the ears."

I used to say "Gingrich for President," but everyone would shift to the left.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

right_thinker and Baile:

Around here there's a variety. I've heard 'Behind you' and 'back' and 'coming up' as well, to avoid the uniquely Austin exchange:

"On the left!" "Aren't we all?"

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

Informed:

I live to amuse!

Yeah, try cycling in Austin. Lawrence may have all its 'Lance Armstrong wanna-bes' but we have the real guy. And because we do, we also have five pudgy middle-aged guys in yellow shirts and high-tech helmets on every corner on Sunday afternoons with their shiny new expensive bikes...

moveforward 7 years, 7 months ago

badger:

I am not saying what is right or wrong here. I am just talking about the reality of that situation. If you walk on it, you should know that rollerbladers, cyclist and other runners/walkers are about. And you should always be aware of your surroundings. On most trails such as this one there are alos signs that say if you stop, get off the trails. Ours doesn't happen to, but it seems common sense.

dirkleisure: "moveforward, if you get hit by a car, how much of that is your fault?"

It depends as in any accident.

And I am totally on board with "share the path". In fact I do say 'on your left'. (thought most joggers don't hear me but for the ipods) All I am saying is that you can not lay it all on the other guy. No matter what the speed or method of movement.

thebigspoon 7 years, 7 months ago

Scott,sometime back in the 90's you deliberately blind-sided a Kansas City high school student running with his school flag around the track at Haskell stadium during a LHS football game. Did you give that young lad any fair warning of your intentions ?

Can we get a comment on this Scott ?

average 7 years, 7 months ago

Bells work somewhat better than "on your left". The spoken phrase requires understanding the words to some degree. The bell less so.

A bell is $5. They are a legal requirement in some places (the city of Toronto for one), just like a working horn is a requirement on a car (in states that bother with vehicle safety checks).

You aren't Lance. A bell won't make you look any dorkier. Get one.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

moveforward said:

"I am not saying what is right or wrong here. I am just talking about the reality of that situation. If you walk on it, you should know that rollerbladers, cyclist and other runners/walkers are about. And you should always be aware of your surroundings. On most trails such as this one there are alos signs that say if you stop, get off the trails. Ours doesn't happen to, but it seems common sense."

I can be 'aware' that cyclists use my path all I like. However, unless I turn around every few seconds to look, that awareness won't tell me when one is behind me unless he's making noise. That would be why I took issue with your designation of it as a matter of the walker/hiker's personal responsibility, suggesting that somehow, I'm more responsible for knowing who's behind me than the person behind me is for letting me know he's there. Does that clarify my problem with what you said? It may be my responsibility to know that cyclists use the path, but it's not my responsibility to watch forward and behind so that cyclists don't have to tell me they're there. All most walkers ever want is just that warning.

You say it's 'common sense' to get off the trail if you're stopping. OK, how about if you're walking along the Town Lake hike and bike trail, crossing Town Lake on the pedestrian bridge, and you stop to take a picture of the Austin skyline? Hundreds of people take that picture every week, and there's nowhere to get off the path because you're on an enclosed walkway - and yet the hundreds of cyclists who use that bridge every day seem to have adjusted quite well. Or how about when you're hiking the Barton Creek Green Belt, and you have to stop to pick up your dog's waste with the plastic baggie the city so thoughtfully provided, but there's a rock wall to one side and a bridge abutment in two feet of water to the other? Trust me, everyone would rather you pick up the poo than stay out of the way. Some trails just don't lend themselves to accomodating cyclists, so the cyclists will just have to learn to deal. It may be 'common sense' to you that we 'slow' folks should take the extra effort to get out of your way, but from my perspective (and that of the TX Parks and Wildlife Dept signs), cyclists yield to walkers, and both yield to horses.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

sneaks in and puts a bell on Informed's bike

and pink and purple streamers

Baille 7 years, 7 months ago

"You say it's 'common sense' to get off the trail if you're stopping. OK, how about if you're walking along the Town Lake hike and bike trail, crossing Town Lake on the pedestrian bridge, and you stop to take a picture of the Austin skyline?"

That would mean I was in Texas and I would hope that someone would have the decency to push me off the bridge so as to end my suffering.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 7 years, 7 months ago

There is no end to suffering in Texas... even at the bottom of a bridge.

badger 7 years, 7 months ago

Nah, Baille, you'd be in Austin. We have migas. And really good local beer. You could try drinking enough of the really good beer to fall off the bridge, but then you might lose your migas.

roundaboutlady 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with windjunky about all the Lance Armstrong wanabees. All we want is for you to say "ON YOUR LEFT". If this continues this winter I will buy an air horn to get your attention.

Baille 7 years, 6 months ago

Because an air horn is always preferable to a polite request.

And what if I am coming up on your right?

roundaboutlady 7 years, 6 months ago

Because I am going to be on your right. By the time Lance gets by me he's already to far ahead for me to make a "polite request".

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 6 months ago

why do I read these comments.... brain dying slowly dying dying

BigPrune 7 years, 6 months ago

Is the letter writer referring to the South Lawrence Bikeway?

BigPrune 7 years, 6 months ago

I propose that every bicycle rider in town should have a bell installed on their bicycle. They can ring-ring whenever they are within 30 feet of anyone or any intersection or any automobile.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.