Around Minneapolis city lakes it is quite common to have two sets of paths: one for pedestrians and one for bikes. Bikes tend to stay off the pedestrian path, but very commonly pedestrians, runners, strollers, roller bladers, etc. are on the bike paths. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe to avoid the more congested ped path on weekends, maybe if they are running it's to avoid having to pass walkers, or ...?
Anyway, the following article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune brought my attention to the fact that those pedestrians on the bike-only path are breaking city law. I also noticed that police say they rarely enforce it. I have noticed how much of a hazard the peds are on the bike paths. Especially when many of them seem oblivious to the bikers and don't seem to be concerned about blocking the path for the bikers -- often being several peds stretched out across the path. socializing as they walk.
Do others of you deal with this kind of situation? I am also wondering if anything can practically be done (with little effort on my part) to raise awareness among the walkers of the city ordinance and the dangers caused by blocking the path.
The link to the article is: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1369633.html
Walkers on wrong path cause bicyclist to take a tumble
Colleague's crash proves wisdom of following the rules when it comes to biking and walking paths.
Roadguy Jim Foti
Last update: August 18, 2007 – 4:59 PM
Who would have thought that Baghdad could be less dangerous than the paths around Lake Calhoun?
Sharon Schmickle, one of Roadguy's most esteemed colleagues, was embedded with the Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but last month a careless Minneapolis pedestrian caused her more harm than any insurgent.
Sharon was biking along at Calhoun one day when she noticed that, up ahead, three women were walking on the bicycle path, even though a separate pedestrian path was just a few steps away.
As she approached them from behind, she realized that the easiest way to get around them was on the right, so she called out her intention.
Just as she was passing, a little dog who was with the women darted across her path. Sharon and her bike ran into the dog's leash and crashed onto the asphalt.
As she lay there in pain, the women stopped briefly, then rushed away.
Fortunately, a park worker who was watering nearby trees heard the crash and came to Sharon's aid. Unfortunately, he couldn't simultaneously help her and pursue the pedestrians, who went unpunished. Sharon wound up with cracked ribs, and her helmet took such a beating that police advised her to get a new one.
Despite what you might see around the lakes and on the parkways, it's a violation of Minneapolis code to walk or jog on a bike path "except where such pathway is also a designated pedestrian pathway." The converse is true; bikes and skaters are banned from designated park walking paths (though it's legal to bike on most sidewalks outside business districts).
Sgt. Brian Rogers of the Minneapolis Park Police was kind enough to fax a copy of the rules to Roadguy. "I wouldn't say we write a lot of tickets for that," he said, but officers are aware of the danger and tend to use their public-address systems to direct people onto the correct path.
Sharon, meanwhile, is on the path to recovery and is itching to get back to kayaking and other activities curtailed by the crash. She's not pleased to have missed out on six weeks of the summer biking season, but she already has that new helmet.
Jim Foti • 612-673-4491