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tl-w.gif (842 bytes)tr-w.gif (841 bytes)Frank 'N Fred

In which Fred is cautioned about bike trails.

Hey Frank! Wow, long time no see, buddy! Where have you been?

Hi, Fred. Yes, it's been a long time. Actually, I've been out of town for a long vacation. We were out seeing America, and it's been fun!

Busy riding your bike on vacation, eh? Hey, I understand.

Well, we drove from place to place, then rode our bikes. We rode in dozens of different towns! It's fun to explore things by bike. How about you? Been riding?

Aw, no, not much. You know, there just aren't that many places to ride around here.

Pardon me? Fred, this is a great place for cycling! We have so many pretty country roads in every direction! You can choose flat rides or hilly rides, and it's not hard to get around the city on a bike, either. Our town is at least as nice as most places I visited!

Yeah, but we've only got about three bike trails. Shoot, you gotta have something to get you away from those dangerous cars! I bet you rode lots of bike trails, 'cause they're so safe and all.

You'd lose that bet, Fred. We rode just two or three, very carefully. Surprisingly, bike trails can be more dangerous than roads.

You kidding me? There are cars on the roads! On a bike trail, it's just you and the birds and the flowers! You can just relax and let your mind wander!

And yet, you're more likely go to the emergency room from riding a mile on the bike trail than from riding a mile on the roads! It's true, Fred, you can look up the numbers. See, the problem is, they're not bike trails, and you can't let your mind wander.

OK, you gotta explain that.

They're not bike trails, because they're Multi-Use Paths. That means it's not just you - it's you, plus the walkers, the joggers, the skaters, the baby carriages, the tricycles, the dogs on leashes and more. It's everybody trying to find a way to get along, and it's not always easy.

Yeah, but it's easier than on the road, ain't it so?

Not at all. On a road, almost everybody follows the rules. If you follow the rules of the road, too, you'll be fine. But trails are different. Everybody's mind is wandering... and so are they, all over the place. You never know which walker will step into your path, or which little kid will do a U-turn in front of you. You have to stay alert!

Hmm - I see your point. So what's to do?

I'd say YOU have to follow the rules. Most are simple and common-sense. For example, ride on the right, just like on the road. Keep your speed down to what's safe and legal, especially if there are lots of people sharing the trail. Remember your bike is very quiet, so gently warn people before you pass, in plenty of time to be sure they don't startle right into you. And if you have to stop, stop well off the trail, and only after signaling to anyone behind you.

Wow. That's almost as many rules as for the road!

Oh, there are more. Watch the road surface for sticks, holes or slippery spots - because some trails are badly maintained, and there are no cars to sweep the surface clean. Of course, use lights at night so you can see those road hazards. Watch for blind curves, because some trails aren't designed for proper sight distance, and you don't want a head-on collision with a wrong-way rider. Be especially careful at road crossings, because drivers on those roads may not expect you. And because most trails are narrower than roads, be especially careful not to ride off the edge of the trail.

Aw shoot, if I rode off the edge, I'd just ride right back on.

That's bad, Fred! Even an excellent rider can get his front wheel trapped by the edge of the pavement. When that happens, you can't steer or balance; you get flipped right off the bike and into the hospital. If you ever ride off the edge, stop and get a fresh start.

Dang. That's a lot to remember. You know, maybe I'll just leave the bike in the basement.

No, Fred, don't be afraid. Bike trails can be very pretty, quiet places. They're especially nice when they're not crowded. Remember the rules above, and remember to stay alert. You'll do fine! Oh, but there's one more rule that will help.

Shoot, another one? My brain's already full!

This is easy, Fred. Just remember to stay vertical, OK?

- Frank Krygowski

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By Frank Krygowski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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08/16/11
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