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  1. #1
    Senior Member LGHT's Avatar
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    Speed limit and restrictions on bike trails??

    Since the sun is going doing sooner I recently rode a trail after work to get more ride time in. It's has a dedicated bike / running / walking path that's about 10 miles long. It's a really nice wide path with great pavement that's used by a LOT of cyclist. I noticed the trail had guys in packs of 5-10 cruising at 20+ in both directions. There are several thousand rides logged on strava and I had no idea it existed until recently so it’s a great find for me. It was sort of funny because it seems the locals are well aware of the bikes and how fast they ride. It was nice because most seemed to walk pretty far off the side of the path allowing riders to take most of the path. In fact they even have a Time Trial posted for Strava riders. It’s a 2.3 mile run with a top speed record of 31.6 mile / h.

    I was making good time on the trial, but was passed by several riders. This all seemed to be the norm and totally accepted by everyone on the trial. However toward the end of the trail I noticed a few odd signs that seemed to be just a waste of space.

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    Is this the norm for dedicated bike paths / trails? I didn’t see anyone under 15mph on the downhill stretch and really didn’t see anyone bothered by the speed the bikes were going. I did stop at all signs, but didn't notice a walk your bike sign until looking up some info about the path and that's the first time I've ever seen a walk your bike sign.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    The bicycle [MUP] paths that I ride all have a 20mph speed limit... although there isn't many signs. I myself... have little (or no) problems with obeying the speed limit. But I've seen trainers in line that didn't seem to care what the limits are.

    Joggers, walkers (some with dogs), and skaters seem to dominate the MUP in residential areas. But out in the old rails-to-trails cornfields and trees areas... it is mainly just bicycles. Your experiences seem to be the same as my own.

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    Senior Member linnefaulk's Avatar
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    The first time I rode on a MUP, there was a 10mph speed limit. I moved onto the road.
    I don't see any signs on the MUPs I ride, but I would say anything over 15mph is difficult and dangerous because of pedestrians and dogs.
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    Some localities post low speed limits of 15mph or so probably to set a tone about the intended use of the bike path, ie. family/casual riding vs. serious riding. I'd also expect to see lower posted limits on MUPs.

    OTOH- I've never heard of enforcement, which might be hard since most bikes don't have speedometers.

    I suspect that these speed limits are more by way of guidelines or CYA in case of accident or injury. You can't sue them over a too sharp or off camber turn if you were riding above the limit. It might also protect the city if a pedestrian is hit by a speeding bicycle.

    I routinely ignore bicycle speed limits, but I also reduce speed according to conditions and ride these paths at anything up to 30mph or so when conditions allow.

    Skip the signs, and use your common sense. If you're bothered by speeders it's up to you whether to make an issue of it (I wouldn't, but it's your call).
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  5. #5
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    I noticed one of the trails here in Denver had a 15mph speed limit sign posted. I don't remember it being there before (or I just never paid attention). I've never seen anyone on the trail with authority to enforce it.

    I did get pulled over by a cop while riding on a local park road with a 15mph speed limit. He hit me with his radar while I was going 22. Let me off with a warning.
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    I don't think the Lansing Rivertrail has a speed limit, but it's a fairly narrow rail-to-trail deal for most of it and when the foot traffic is heavy you can't realistically get more than 15 mph. That and the city's inattention to holes and bumps. Practical matters take care of the speed of "serious bikers". Besides, if the city ever did put up speed limit signs, they'd be vandalized or stolen almost immediately. The directional signs lasted a few years but only because they put them 12 feet off the ground.

  7. #7
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The ARBT between Sacramento and Folsom has a posted 15 mph limit for bikes. Last year, the county made a big deal of enforcing the limit, including arming rangers with radar guns. But that seems to have gone away. I usually do 20-22 on those portions and have never been stopped and I think it's perfectly safe when riding solo.

    Riding in a group on the MUP is another story.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member LGHT's Avatar
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    Ok looks like signs are probably just a CYA for the city. The good thing about this trail is it's VERY wide (enough for a car) and great smooth pavement so it's not hard for guys to average 30+ mph. I personally won't be riding that fast so I'm probably not going to get a ticket and I don't mind if others move fast, just wasn't sure if this was the norm or not as it's my first time ridding a road bike on a path.

    They also have a lot of dirt paths as well so looking forward to riding my hybrid from time to time in the same spot.

  9. #9
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    LGHT, is this the Back Bay MUP out towards PCH?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    OTOH- I've never heard of enforcement, which might be hard since most bikes don't have speedometers.
    Lack of speedometer on a bike doesn't make enforcement any more difficult. All that's needed is a speed indicator on the cop's radar device.

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    A few years ago a 68 year old cyclist collided with a woman on our local MUP. Of course the cyclist was at fault and going too fast and so the town posted a 10 mph speed limit on the path.

    Now, this particular path was only 2 miles long at the time. It's since been extended about another 2 miles. But with the lack of good facilities in our area it gets HEAVY use from walkers, joggers, stray dogs, children on all manner of wheeled things, snapping turtles, and the occasional deer.

    The police ride down in on bikes about once a year I think. In any case, it's no place for fast riding. Just cruise along and enjoy the scenery.

  12. #12
    Senior Member LGHT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    LGHT, is this the Back Bay MUP out towards PCH?
    Yes it is. It seems to be a pretty popular route based on the Strava ride logs. Glad I found it as it's only a few minutes from the office and is a nice ride after work!

  13. #13
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    All of our local MUP's have a stated limit of 15 mph. I have heard stories about tickets for speeding being handed out, but can verify. I have seen police patrols on bikes and 4 wheelers. Part of the police patrols is due to homeless encampments along the creeks which almost all our local MUP's parallel.

    Depending on time of day a safe speed for a bike can be from 2-3 mph to well over 15, but at all times you have to aware as people, animals (deer and skunk), dogs, etc just appear and the majority of trails users are clueless (i.e 5 people walking side by side taking up the trail in both directions)
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  14. #14
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say it's always just CYA for the city and disregard as you please. Put some people on bikes and their sense of caution seems to fly out the window.

    Just an anecdote. Five or six years ago an older lady was killed on our local MUP, around the corner of the Roswell end of Big Creek to be precise. She was an accomplished cyclist, centuries, tours, many years of experience. I have no idea about the other parties involved, but I do know that her survivors blamed high speed, the design of that portion of the Greenway, and some trees blocking visibility. And it IS a spot where you'd proceed with caution, close to the entrance and usually populated with casual users, small children, geese and kids on mountain bikes. Yet I'm still constantly seeing people blast around those blind corners, passing kids wobbling all over the path and I know that they'd have practically no chance at all of avoiding someone coming the other way, especially someone riding like they are. It's just a matter of time until one of those riders kills someone else. So although I'll exceed the speed limit myself, often in fact in some places and the right time of day, I believe that we do need to take the speed limits somewhat seriously.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Lack of speedometer on a bike doesn't make enforcement any more difficult. All that's needed is a speed indicator on the cop's radar device.
    Yes, but police tend to recognize that it's hard for bicyclists to know their speed, and therefore most cut us some slack. There may also be some jurisdictional and specific legal issues regarding to non-road speed limits. Many of the speed laws and fine schedules are based on the MV code, and may not apply off road. For example, if the MUP is a park path regulated by a city parks dept., they may not have authority to levy fines for infractions.

    It's been my 50 year experience that if you ride with reasonable care consistent with conditions the police are only too happy to leave you alone. Ironically, that's changing with (or maybe because of) bike advocacy. Mount a radar reflector and fly higher and you're more likely to draw attention.
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  16. #16
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LGHT View Post
    Yes it is. It seems to be a pretty popular route based on the Strava ride logs. Glad I found it as it's only a few minutes from the office and is a nice ride after work!
    Nice. My MIL used to live in the Yale Loop area and I enjoyed taking that ride out to Newport.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member gdhillard's Avatar
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    Do you think that police use Strava data to identify and catch speeders? I would if I were them.

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    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdhillard View Post
    Do you think that police use Strava data to identify and catch speeders? I would if I were them.
    In most states they have to witness the infraction.
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    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Around the DC-Metro region. It is 15mph on the MUPs, unless otherwise posted. One reason why I don't use MUPs.

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    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    I don't have any municipal paths anywhere around me. All paths and trails are owned/operated by an organization. There are no speed limits and even if there were, the paths/trails would be out of police jurisdiction.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member kickstart's Avatar
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    I'm not seeing the "issue" with a 15mph speed limit, that's a fairly typical speed for the overwhelming majority of cyclists I encounter......except for some who post on BF............

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdhillard View Post
    Do you think that police use Strava data to identify and catch speeders? I would if I were them.
    I think the police are too busy fighting real crime to troll Strava looking for speeding bicyclists.

  23. #23
    Senior Member LGHT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdhillard View Post
    Do you think that police use Strava data to identify and catch speeders? I would if I were them.
    In all honesty I don't see a problem in this specific MUP no matter how fast the riders go for a few reasons. Portions of the path are BIKE ONLY and it's a small 2 line road in the back of apartments / RV spots with little to no view.

    The 2nd part of the path this is a MUP has a wide path. Large enough for full sized vehicles to use. As a result the few people actually walking the path have more than enough room and often walk on the outside of the path not interfering with the bikes.



    Quote Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
    I'm not seeing the "issue" with a 15mph speed limit, that's a fairly typical speed for the overwhelming majority of cyclists I encounter......except for some who post on BF............
    Well the problem is certain areas have a good long stretch and it's a really nice smooth patch of gravel so it's a riders heaven. I just looked at the east side that has the TT setup and that portion alone has been ridden more than 56,000 times by almost 7,000 riders!

    What's cool about the top speeds is 3 riders all from the same team all have the same times, but 1 second apart. They also logged the times on the same day. So basically it looks like they where ridding the TT together and in line to get the best 3 times.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
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    The bike trails in Cook County IL used to have an official 8 MPH limit (though I doubt that was ever enforced). The new rule is "Ride at a responsible, controlled speed. No racing is allowed." I find myself cheered a bit by this, that we might all have to think for ourselves for once.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member kickstart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LGHT View Post
    Well the problem is certain areas have a good long stretch and it's a really nice smooth patch of gravel so it's a riders heaven. I just looked at the east side that has the TT setup and that portion alone has been ridden more than 56,000 times by almost 7,000 riders!

    What's cool about the top speeds is 3 riders all from the same team all have the same times, but 1 second apart. They also logged the times on the same day. So basically it looks like they where ridding the TT together and in line to get the best 3 times.
    Try to consider others,

    15 mph isn't exactly a "hardship" speed, and those who feel the need for speed have many safe, legal options. If the speed limits are raised to accommodate the fastest riders, that takes away the one of the main benefits of a MUP for most users, and they have far fewer options.

    Its kinda like saying if cyclists shouldn't have to slow down for others on MUTs, then drivers shouldn't have to slow down for cyclists on roads. Its not equitable to expect the one without the other.
    Last edited by kickstart; 10-14-14 at 01:32 PM.

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