Poll: Should police patrol rail trails?

A segment of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in the town of Lloyd

The town of Lloyd’s consideration of a request for police patrols on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail has sparked debate. The original request cited cyclists traveling at high speeds without giving sufficient notice to pedestrians. In the course of the conversation, cyclists have weighed in, complaining of pedestrians wearing headphones, lurching left and right on the trail, and bringing unleashed dogs (which violates a town ordinance).

What do you think?

Should police patrol local rail trails?

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There are 15 comments

  1. RS

    This discussion is ludicrous and a complete waste of time and money. I’m sorry about this events that occurred, both sound quite implausible as described to be honest. It’s terrible that someone was hit, but I put it at a 0% chance that she was just walking in a straight line and got nailed. More likely she read one of the signs on the bridge and then, without looking just walked out across the bridge or cluelessly just turned around and did a u turn without looking, both of which I see daily. Either way, agree it’s terrible to just leave, but realistically after lending a help up and apologizing, what is he going to do and how long would you want him to hang around? I don’t know what the actual protocol should be there.

    I also find it very hard to believe anyone would actually waste time stopping, turning around, discounting, yelling at a senior citizen, and push him…Sounds more made up to prove a point. If that really did happen though, that is just an idiot and not a problem with cyclists that needs to have daily patrols put out for. What is another pedestrian just popped him in the jaw, would you suggest the same thing? Doubtful.

    As for the issue at hand, I both bike and walk on the rail trail and see far more terrible behavior from pedestrians than cyclists. The number of people walking around that are just clueless about their surroundings and others on the trail is staggering. Almost not a day goes by where I don’t smack my head at a pedestrian doing something stood on the trail, especially on the walkway. Huge groups cluelessly taking up most of the trail, kids are the absolute worst as they don’t look, are unpredictable, and their parents aren’t watching them, dogs, and worst of all, people jutting across the trail without looking around.

    As for warning people that I am passing on a bike, I have real mixed feelings about that. More often than not, I will call out that I am passing on the left if I need to be anywhere close to them, but all it does is scare them and make the move unpredictably, sometimes into my path. If I have an entire side of the trail to clearly pass someone on, I see no need to tell them I’m passing. Also, bells on grown adults bikes is just ridiculous.

    Stay in your lane, try not to be unpredictable, known your surroundings, look around, and we can all get along just fine.

  2. MaryAnn

    et’s start the day by pissing people off …

    No! Bicycles wanna be treated like cars when they are on the road then they should be treated like cars on the trials as in they shouldn’t be there! And if they want to ride there they should still be treated like cars as in the right of way goes to the pedestrian … IF they put patrols on the trials I hope it’s for the purpose of ticketing “bicycles traveling at high rates of speed”

    1. jane rahway

      why should they be treated like cars on the trails? do you really think the problem is so bad that bikes should be banned? if everyone just signaled that they were coming up on the left it seems there wouldn’t really be any problem with the bikes at all.

  3. Gregory Arnold

    Easy solution. Have specific times allowed and posted for cyclists and pedestrians. This way cyclists can get a good workout and go as fast as they like without having to dodge pedestrians and the inevitable unleashed animals.

  4. Meaghan

    as a runner on the trails my biggest complaint is regarding walkers who pay no attention and step in front of me or don’t move into single file. It’s very simple. Pedestrians, pay attention and stay to the right. Cyclists, pay attention and warn “on your left”. Dog owners LEASH YOUR DOGS. there we go. Problem solved.

  5. Jacob

    Annoying people without leashes for their dogs isn’t worth the taxpayer money it would cost to have police regularly on the trail. I’m on the rail trail pretty often on bike and on foot and I’ve seen lots of people not following the rules, but I can’t justify bringing a police presence out there.

  6. Rafael Diaz

    RS makes comments on the two incidents that call for some response.

    Incident #1 the woman knocked unconscious by a hit-n-run cyclist. He did not render any assistance and made his “I am in training” comment to account for his determination to fast cycling that contributed to the accident before resuming his training. The “protocol” regarding his leaving, I think you mean what is the law. Article 34 of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law specifically states that a cyclist cannot leave the scene of a accident as would be the legal obligation of the operator or any other vehicle. So he should have stayed no matter how urgent his purpose, continued training, may have seemed to him.

    As for the senior citizens who were menaced by a speeding cyclist, they are both respected members of the community known for their contributions to its well-being. Both are longtime, still active, Walkway Ambassadors, for example. The woman was on our Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association for many years helping to run events as well as organized our early 8K foot races when the trail was at its original 2.5 mile length. Both were active in the valley running community. The many people who know them would tend to believe what the two reported at the Lloyd Town Board meeting and not share your level of doubts.

    Cyclists bent on using the trail as a speedway for keeping their heart rates and speed up for training purposes are a problem. They are reluctant to act responsibly down for the few moments it takes to get by people who may be meandering and even slower cyclists.

    Two of us saw a dangerous case of the latter a weekend ago from two different vantage point. I was standing at one of our parking lots, a person was on the trail walking his dog (on the requisite 6′ leash). A recreational cyclist passed him at a moderate speed. That cyclist was still in the middle of the trail and not yet gone to the right. Suddenly, two cyclists, riding single file less that a cycle length apart, loomed on to the scene. They did warn the dog walker but when almost on top of him because of their speed. Faced with a cyclist still in the middle of the trail, rather than slow down, i.e. situational awareness and responsible cycling, the lead one shouted “on your RIGHT!” They passed on the INSIDE of him with no reduction in speed. From our two vantage points we estimated their speed at a minimum of 20 mph, likely higher. The two were intent on sticking with their training speed and the devil with everyone else including a fellow cyclist.

    A police presence on the trail might dissuade those in-training cyclists who feel a need to maintain their speed and conditioning regardless of the normal flow and eccentricities of pedestrians, runners, families with kids and dog walkers they encounter.

    That police presence would also help other users feel more confident that the dangers are being addressed by the authorities and would keep these users from being afraid to be on the trail for recreational and health purposes.

    Again, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail is a town linear park and was not ever meant to be a speedway.

    1. chris walker

      these incidents are regrettable. the question: is how common are they? any reason to think there are more cyclists using the rail trail for training than in the past? if we’re including incidents from the last several years and the cyclist level is unchanged, it would be a less urgent problem than if there’s reason to believe these kind of incidents are increasing due to greater usage of the trail by serious cyclists.

      1. Rafael Diaz

        The number of cyclists, who are in training or out for speed/duration rides on the Highland rail trail, has increased markedly since the Dutchess Rail Trail linked to Walkway several years ago. Why wouldn’t they want to be on the network of the two trails and Walkway? These cyclists now have 18.1 miles of asphalt/concrete with no cars and very few at-grade crossings.

        Their need to keep up speed makes them reluctant to slow down when approaching/passing other users, not just pedestrians, families, dog-walkers but also casual cyclists. The speeding cyclists are skilled with quick reflexes. But this tends to make them a bit over-confident when encountering other users who they treat as stationary cones, which they aren’t.

        There will be some accidents, quite serious ones because of the 20-25 mph speeds. An equal concern is that other users will be scared off from using the Highland rail trail because of the speeding cyclists. All it takes is being startled by a string of cyclists riding at near car speeds just inches away. People are on the trail for recreational and health reasons; it would be a shame if they feel forced to leave.

        The rail trail in Highland is a linear park not a speedway.

  7. Sidney

    Should people be respectful of each other? Yes. But every problem shouldn’t involve police. Come on, we’re a community damn it. Let’s communicate.

  8. bieda

    i ride a bike. a railtrail is not the place to be training.
    slow down when you come up on people and pets.
    it breaks your cadence, yes, oh well. make that part of the challenge if you must impress.

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