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Thursday, May 9, 2013
Which came first — the chicken or the egg? Which is more refreshing — Coke or Pepsi? Some arguments will never be resolved.
To those we can add, “who’s more inconsiderate on the Roanoke River Greenway — pedestrians or cyclists?” My inbox and blog were flooded with comments on this subject after the April 23 column on greenway conflicts.
There’s general agreement that a problem exists. But who’s responsible? And what should be done about it? The answers vary widely, as you can see in the April reader mailbag.
First up was Karen Dillon of Wirtz, who seems to think the situation is hopeless.
“Appreciate the attempt at getting folks to obey the rules, but we probably won’t see it in either of our lifetimes. You really do take your life into your own hands out there,” she wrote.
Joe Campbell of Glenvar wrote: “Most of the conflicts I’ve witnessed on the greenway come from pedestrians who don’t know (or understand) trail etiquette. In particular, there needs to be signage warning trail users of danger in those areas where the Greenway and public roads are contiguous or coincident.”
But Lance Hunt of Vinton doubts more signage would work. “All the rules you spelled out are just plain common sense and old-fashioned consideration. That’s what so many of the people on the greenway do not have, and they won’t take it if you try to give it to them,” he wrote.
Bike commuter Jeremy Holmes lives in Roanoke. Initially he doubted cyclists were the bad guys in the user conflicts. Then one day he rode over to Smith Park.
“I was wrong,” Holmes wrote. “The three gentlemen I saw riding were traveling at an inappropriate speed for the greenway and should have probably been on the main roads. If anyone was a hazard, they were. … These folks need to slow down, or get off the greenways.”
Phil Woods of Roanoke wrote on my blog that it’s not only the cyclists.
“I have seen people with two or three dogs with each dog on a retractable 15 foot leash. I’ve seen families of three or more walking side-by-side blocking much of the trail to others in either direction. I’ve seen runners with their earbuds on running right down the middle of the trail, and completely oblivious to what’s happening around them.
“I’ve seen many cyclists fail to acknowledge or signal when they pass a pedestrian or slower cyclists. Each of these described users make the trails unpleasant for other users (on foot or on wheels).”
A blog reader who posts as Lynda K suggested the greenway stretch between Black Dog Salvage and Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital be reserved for walkers. She wrote: “I’ve been walking there when bikers have sped by at the speed of light. It’s frightening.”
Scott Whitaker, who rides on the greenway and lives in Raleigh Court, suggested rumble strips or speed bumps in high-traffic areas. “This will help to keep the speed down. These should not be too big/obtrusive as to be a hindrance to the moms with carriages.”
Chuck and Nancy Ayling of Roanoke have another idea: “Stripe the GREENway with bright GREEN,” they wrote. “The greenway won’t look like a road because VDOT doesn’t paint green stripes.”
“My only suggestion is a white line down the middle of the road,” wrote Fred Landis of Roanoke, who said he walks the greenway two or three times per week. “It is very dangerous to change sides while walking without looking back before changing sides. I’ve had two close calls. Bikes are as silent as the sphinx.”
A blog reader posting as Beth offered this solution: “Please save everyone from further trouble and just rename it the Roanoke River Superfast, Superrude Bike Path.”
We’ll give the last word to cyclist and local wag River Laker. Tongue planted in cheek, he sent in an email that skewered bicyclists who wear fancy cycling clothes.
“I propose a simple solution: The immediate banning of Lycra on all Roanoke greenways. It is primarily the Lycra clad bicyclists that are causing the troubles. They come in from the county, fill up the parking spaces with their monstrous-sized vehicles, and proceed to treat our Roanoke greenways like race tracks.”
With a Lycra ban, Laker added, “I bet you congestion problems and ill-mannered behaviors will be a thing of the past.”
Thank you, readers, for all your calls, letters, emails and blog posts. Please keep them coming.
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