Aug
7
2017

Trail Ramblings: What Do We Want For Our Trails?

Our excellent trail system in and around Lincoln is a resource all of us who use it are happy to have. Whenever a piece of it is disrupted, especially a heavily used segment, all kinds of opinions are weighed and verdicts handed down. Cyclists want safe and well engineered routes, wide enough to pass with an “on your left” that everyone hears and understands to mean slower traffic keeps to the right. Walkers and runners want a calmer, more meandering experience where they don’t feel startled or threatened by a too-sudden or close pass by a cyclist. These factors are constants but when these two groups have to share a narrow, temporary detour, expectations can be in conflict. Both groups have to make an effort to co-exist.

Sometimes a detour or trail design seems to lack common sense and weirdness ensues, sometimes with the best of intentions. Usually this happens when trail users are not properly involved in the process, or those making decisions are not trail users.

Temporary access from the Southpointe trail. There is no ramp at the curb, and a large drop off.

One trail dilemma is access to Southpointe from the trail near the new Scheels construction. The temporary sidewalk seems to have been “fixed”- the sideways pitch of the sidewalk no longer follows the steep contour of the hill- but now bikes are banned. You’ll have to use street access.

Costco entrance off Pinelake.

Another ongoing case is with the construction of the new Costco and the ensuing trail dilemma on Pine Lake. Many are concerned about large numbers of cars turning across the trail. I would venture to say most of us have been threatened by motorists turning who weren’t watching for bicycle or pedestrian cross traffic. In China if a motorist hits a cyclist, three-wheeler operator or pedestrian they are responsible for their medical bills. If that became the case here I think motorists would suddenly start noticing us a lot more. Beg lights will not help. I’m referring to walk lights that have to be pushed to give a crossing signal on the next cycle even though the motor traffic going the same direction is green. One seems better off riding in the street than the trail in these circumstances.

Waiting for the light.

I can see no purpose for a crossing light that does not operate in sync with traffic flow apart from an actual turn arrow. One often arrives at a corner moments after it’s too late to press the button. To cross legally one must then wait for a whole new light cycle. Can you imagine motorists doing this? It’s nothing short of punitive. Turning traffic should watch for street crossers before proceeding in all circumstances. I doubt very much motorists are watching the walk signal for guidance to proceed or not. All it does is annoy the rest of us and give motorists the perception that cyclists are scofflaws if they cross with the green motor traffic light rather than that the timing of the lights is poorly planned for actual use.

Can you tell that’s a pet peeve of mine?

There will apparently be a five foot wide sidewalk behind Costco if trying your luck against turning traffic is not your preference. Other area detours hold their own unique characteristics, so watch out when you’re in the area. Remember that we are traffic, too, and we have a right to safe, non-motorized movement with as few obstacles as reasonably possible.

Photo: Sarah Knight. 27th and Pine Lake

 

 

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Well said. Is there anything that we (as a one of the most active bike communities in the US) can still do?

    • I’d like to hear some good ideas myself.