I bike and walk on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. I think it is senseless to complain about pedestrians listening to music, wandering to the left, being engaged in conversation or simply getting away from it all, as these are all reasons for people to use the rail trail in the first place. So they are not paying attention to the bikes barreling down on them? That is all the more reason that cyclists need to go out of their way to ensure everyone’s safety. I do my best to get their attention, which is many times impossible. In that case it is the cyclist’s responsibility to slow down and go around. Sometimes it is necessary to go into the grassy side area. So be it.
However, your reporter is not entirely accurate when it comes to pets. Not only is use of a leash required in a very direct rail trail rule, it is also a law in the Town of Lloyd, as in many municipalities. It seems to me that there are a couple of good reasons to support this law. One is that dog owners don’t know if people they encounter have a fear of dogs, especially loose dogs, or may have had a bad experience, as many have. To keep your dog on a leash would be to respect the needs of these folks on this shared rail trail. Another reason is for the safety of the dog. There have been many times when I come upon unleashed dogs and in spite of my attempts to note my coming, many owners do try to leash their dogs a bit late, or call the dog to them, which many times confuses the dog, and they very nearly end up injuring not only myself but the dog. Additionally, there has been several times when loose dogs have run towards me barking, growling and snapping. None of this risk would be necessary if the dog was actually under the owner’s control, as the law demands.
Unleashed dogs are not often the focus of the rail trail folks as a concern. However, if they are requesting police presence to cite biking violations, then maybe they could cite violations of the leash law as well.
And I do indeed have a bell! Happy rail trailing!
John Steele Jr.