A suggestion made at a prior Lloyd Town Board meeting that police officers monitor the Hudson Valley Rail Trail for unruly cyclists created considerable uproar online among members of the cyclist community. Cyclists consider the suggestion to unfairly target their behavior, when pedestrians and pets who wander from side to side on the trail pose at least as much danger in their eyes. However frustrating a pooch on a long leash might be, Fido’s behavior isn’t regulated in town law in the same way a cyclist’s is.
Town code §74-3, governing activity and behavior on multi-use trails, had an entire list of bicycle rules added to it in 2013. §74-3 L(3) reads, “When overtaking pedestrians on any multi-use trail, cyclists must give ample reasonable warning and must pass said pedestrians in single file at a prudent and responsible speed. When coming from the opposite direction, cyclists must pass pedestrians in single file at a prudent and responsible speed.” According to Larry Scarborough, advising cyclists about the law doesn’t always go well.
Scarborough showed council members the t-shirt he wears on his daily rail-trail walks with Mary Phillips, who’s legally blind: it’s the same neon yellow used for some road signs; on the back on large black letters is the message, “warn when passing.” That hasn’t solved the problem, and Scarborough found calls to the police to be unhelpful. That’s probably why he decided to tell one cyclist who shouted, “out of my way!” to them just before passing that the law is on the pedestrian’s side. As Scarborough tells it, the cyclist circled back, dismounted, and pushed the senior citizen.
He urged board members to get a police presence on the trail at least on weekends. “Somebody’s gonna get hurt,” he said, adding that most cyclists are indeed respectful of pedestrians and town law, but “a few guys in spandex” don’t seem willing to slow down.
Adding stripes to the narrow trail would only cause more conflicts, Bellizzi believes, and widening it to accommodate them would be cost-prohibitive. Passing out literature has limited effect because of the number of users on the trail, yet several people believed news of warnings or tickets would spread quickly. Town supervisor Paul Hansut, a former police officer, said that it may also result in no tickets or warnings, just like when an officer sets a speed trap.