The Providence Journal posted an article today entitled Heed the Rules of the Road. In addition to mentioning the upcoming Bike to Work festivities, the article reminds people that
Rhode Island’s four main bike paths are already crowded on good-weather weekends, not just with bicyclists but with walkers, dog walkers, Rollerbladers –– even Rollerbladers with dogs. With so many people using the bike paths, the potential for accidents and collisions is ever-present, so the start of the season is a good time for all users of the bike paths to be reminded of the rules.
Confusion arises because the posted signs and painted icons that instruct walkers to “walk in the left lane, facing bicyclists” don’t spell out the rest of the rule, which is that walkers are to stay to the left, close to the grass edge, and make way for oncoming bicyclists.
Just as on an automotive highway, pedestrians are safer if they are facing the oncoming traffic –– but that doesn’t mean that they can walk in the middle of the road.
Overall, I don’t have a strong opinion about what side of the bike path pedestrians use, I’d just like it to be consistent. I mentioned to my wife after my ride home on Monday that I’d seen the last of commuting home via the bike trail until the Fall. It’s just too tough to try and weed your way through the disorganization on the bike path in the afternoon, I’d rather leave the path for those that feel more comfortable away from automobile traffic.
The article continue on to mention that the bike paths were built with federal and state highway funds and that
bicycles have the right of way in BOTH lanes of the bike paths. Rollerbladers are considered the same as bikes and use the bike lanes. Dogs must be kept on leashes shorter than 6 feet and out of the path of wheeled traffic.
Rollerblading is an interesting mode of transportation, one which I’ve actually spent time pondering as I ride back and forth on the bike trail. To date, there has only been one rollerblader that I would have categorized the same as a bicycle, man could that guy move on rollerblades. From the cyclists perspective, your average rollerblader is much closer to pedestrian speeds than cycling speeds. However, I can also see how pedestrians would categorize rollerbladers as being closer to cyclist speeds.
Overall, I think everyone should just be mindful of other users on the path and do their best to be courteous. If they walk, ride, rollerblade in this manner and always leave room for someone faster to pass or safely pass slower users, we can all get along just fine.
As usual though, my main complaint with any article like this is that it only focuses on Bike Paths. They make mention of Bike to Work Day at the end of the article, but fail to realize or comment on the fact that everyone will need to ride on roads to get to work, school, the B2WD event, etc. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and the “on the road” version of this story has yet to run. We will see…