Share the Trail and Sidewalks too! by Michelle Avola-Brown, Executive Director, NPC
It’s not just our roads that are filled with traffic. The Gordon River Greenway, sidewalks, and other local pathways are teeming with people walking, biking, running, rollerblading, pushing strollers and taking their dogs for a walk. At times, it can get frustrating
and even painful!
I was riding through the greenway a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the scenery and relative quiet of being away from any roads. I had slowed down as I approached a curve, and it was a good thing! Riding toward me was a woman on a bike who seemed relatively inexperienced.
Coming up on the curve from the other direction, she was attempting to pass two people walking side by side and lost control when
she realized there wasn’t sufficient room to make it past me. As a crash was about to happen, I veered as far to the right as I could. She ran straight into me and fell, pinning me against the railing. She tried to get up but fell back into me. After what seemed much longer than the minute it probably was, someone pulled her and her bike off me.
We scooted forward in either direction to clear the pathway for others, checked on the status of one another, and slowly got back on our bikes and continued our rides, likely shortened from our bruises and scrapes.
As the Executive Director of Naples Pathways Coalition, I went over the experience in my head, again and again, to see if there was something I could have done differently. It was a blind curve because of the foliage. I couldn’t see what was approaching, nor could the people walking or the woman biking toward me. I was correct to have slowed at the curve and stayed to the right.
When driving a motorized vehicle, it is unwise and, in some cases, illegal to pass on a curve. It is also a bad idea to pass on a curve when biking. The crash would not have happened if the woman who collided with me had slowed down and waited to pass the walkers after clearing the curve. In addition to not passing while on a curve, please keep in mind the following safety tips and trail etiquette to share trails and sidewalks safely:
Use safe speeds, use caution as you approach others, and consider the comfort and safety of those around you. Whether walking, running, or biking, stay to the right. Call out when approaching a pedestrian or slower rider, then pass on the left only when it is safe.
If you are stopped, move to the right to allow others to pass. Mind your pets. Keep them on a short leash to your right, and remember that some people are not comfortable around dogs. And of course, clean up after your pet.
Be alert and aware of your surroundings. It’s illegal to bike with earbuds in, and people running or walking should keep the volume low enough to listen for people calling out to pass or be aware of other potential hazards.
Know and follow the rules. Read and obey posted signs. Some trails restrict electric bikes or have other specific regulations. Check in advance because it’s always better to know before you go.
I invite you to check out several short videos from Rails to Trails Conservancy that expand on the tips above:
To learn more about the Paradise Coast Trail that’s coming to Collier County, please visit https://NaplesPathways.org/PCTrail.
The PCT is the keystone project of the Naples Pathways Coalition. It will be a 70-mile paved trail that is separated from the road exclusively for non-motorized recreation and transportation. It will connect Naples to Bonita Springs, Collier Seminole State Park, Ave Maria, and other areas within and beyond county lines. To get involved and help us get the trail on the ground sooner, please reach out to me at Michelle@NaplesPathways.org.
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