This is in answer to the letter by cyclist Henry Pratt objecting to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association’s asking the Lloyd Town Board to have the police patrol the rail trail in response to dangerous behavior by cyclists. Let me put the situation into some context.
The rail trail in Highland is a town of Lloyd linear park. Like in any other park, a cyclist can expect to find families with small kids, dog-walkers, senior citizens, joggers, etc. Cyclists and pedestrians alike value the rail trail for its miles of pavement free from cars they would encounter on local roads.
Given this mixed use, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association, which runs the rail trail for the town, has issued safety rules for both cyclists and pedestrians. The rules are on signs along the trail, in the tri-fold rail trail brochure and on business cards we hand out.
- Must yield to pedestrians
- Bells required on bike
- Go slow near pedestrians, pass in single file
- Give warning even if there is room to pass
- No more than two abreast
- Keep to right on trail
- Allow room for faster users to pass
- Nor more than two abreast
- Look behind when passing others or changing direction
- Keep to right on trail
- Be watchful of your children
- Leash/control dogs, maximum 6 ft. length
Pratt maintains that trail dangers are not a police matter. Not so. The rail trail rules regarding cyclists are actually embodied in the town law of codes, Chapter 74 Section 3L. This section is derived from NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law, which deems bikes as vehicles. The town code calls for fines for each violation of not less than $50 nor more than $200. So Pratt should be aware that the behavioral requirement of cyclists is a legal matter equal to the illegal use of ATVs on the trail, which he points out.
Pratt also writes that it is only a small percentage of bad apples who might cause problems, but those problems can also be pretty rotten ones. A few years ago, a woman was knocked down and left unconscious by a cyclist, who stopped for a moment to say that he was “in training” and sped off as if that was an excuse for his behavior. Several weeks ago a couple in their 70s was on the trail, one of them relying on a walking stick. A cyclist sped by closely and gave no warning. The male of the pair called out to the cyclist to slow down. The rider, appearing to be in his 30s, wheeled back to the couple, dismounted, screamed at them in a menacing tone and shoved the elderly male with both hands on his shoulders, i.e. an act of assault.
Only the “bad apples” will be affected by the police patrol. Cyclists behaving responsibly should welcome them.
Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association